We feel a lot of feelings all the times. Some are positive, some are negative. What’s interesting with feelings is that they are messengers. They are here to help us learn about our needs and define our boundaries, with the world that surrounds us. A feeling is a tool that helps us handle complex information, by preparing us to act or react in front of it.
Our negative feelings are here to help
We don’t like negative feelings. We try to avoid them because they are uncomfortable. Or we were taught they are not appropriate, so we try to push them away or to hold them in.
However, listening to your negative feelings can definitely help you identify these needs. Once you understand them, you will know yourself better and better. This will help you move through your life and express your own self when you are with others.
It will also help you have more appropriate responses when you feel one of them. Let’s decipher the most common ones.
When you feel sadeness, it means you have lost or you miss something/someone. You need it.
Possible unmet need: something or someone.
But if you can’t meet this need, because the presence of this thing or person is not in your control, then the most appropriate might be to grief it, so you can let it go.
Anger usually rises when a rule of yours is not met. You might relate to your values or social rules you live by. This is your own code of conduct.
Possible unmet need: a rule must be met.
Whenever you feel angry and you do not know why, ask yourself which boundary has been crossed. This will help you express it next time. But, as we cannot control others, to not set expectations too high either, or you take the risk to be disappointed. And for this, here is a great podcast how to set great boundaries for yourself.
Feeling fear means there is a danger somewhere. What is interesting to note is that our primitive brain is here to keep us safe, so the initial response to any threat of our safety will be fear. However, our world is usually pretty safe but our brain keeps sending us these signals even if there is no physical danger. Fear makes us freeze, fight or flight, which is inappropriate when we want to form a bond with others.
Possible unmet need: security.
Overcoming fear comes by experimenting the feeling and proving yourself you can survive, despite the circumstance. This comes with baby steps. For example: you have a fear to public speaking, you might try to speak in front of your mirror, then in front of a couple of trusted people, then more and more people… so you create your own security.
Shame tells us we might be judged or rejected. As humans are a social species, we need to belong.
Possible unmet need: belonging
The key to overcome shame is to realize your own worthiness and practice self-compassion and self-love. You can high-five yourself in the mirror, like Mel Robbins, or create list of positive adjectives about yourself.
This is not an exhaustive list
Now, next time you’ll feel a negative feeling, check what it really means for you. Is there a need not met? What is it? Is it rather one of your value that is not respected?
This is really a great work to do: the more you will know, the better you will be able to interact with others and express your needs. Which also means you will be more authentic and have greater relationships.
I’m so excited for you to do this work! Let me know how it goes. I always value constructive feedbacks.
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