4 Steps to Embracing Your Negative EmotionsBy Homaira Kabir
Many years ago, when my youngest was still in Montessori school, she would howl her lungs out and cling to me desperately every single morning when I dropped her off with her teacher. I would be distraught as I reluctantly made my way back to my car, often hanging around in the parking lot so I could peek in to make sure she had calmed down. Invariably, I found her to be the life of the party mere minutes after our turbulent goodbyes. But I struggled for way longer.
One day, I approached her teacher and asked her how we could make the parting easier on both of us. She looked at me for a bit, then simply replied: "Have you seen her laugh?" Of course I had! My daughter's infectious outburst always sent ripples of laughter to everyone around her. As I smiled in recollection, the teacher said calmly, "Well then, if you want to get rid of her wails, you can also say goodbye to her laughter."
I learned an important lesson, for which I later found ample evidence in Brené Brown's work on shame. I learned that one of the main reasons that emotions exist is to help us plan our way forward. When we label them, reject them, and refuse to listen to them, they bounce back louder, eager to be heard, determined to keep us safe. We either end up taking actions that are driven by fear—or we numb our emotions so we don't feel their intensity. In doing so, we also numb ourselves to the joys of being alive.
If you relate in any way, here's a 4-step process that can help you live a more wholehearted life.
1. Welcome It Kindly
When you feel out of sorts, center yourself with a few deep breaths and connect inward to the emotion you're experiencing. Give it a name, and allow it the space to simply be. Say, "Hello, sadness" if that's what you're feeling, and let it roam freely until it's ready to leave—because emotions are fleeting by their very nature.
2. Soften It Gently
However, this doesn’t mean emotions can't hurt while they're still around. Get into your body—a body scan can really help—and try to identify where in your body you feel the greatest intensity of the emotion. Once you do, place your hand over the area and gently apply pressure to it, so you allow the