As a Reiki practitioner, I am supposed to be conscious of myself. There are guidelines which are to help me be a more balanced person. Two of them are “Only for today, I will not anger” and “Only for today, I will not worry”. Sounds like a good idea! However, I noticed that, despite working on myself daily, I was still getting angry over certain things, and I was still worrying. Naturally, self-doubt and self-judgment kicked in immediately.
I had to be doing a bad job!
This, in turn, made me feel worse because on top of handling the negative emotion I was also beating myself up over having it in the first place. I got caught in a snowball mechanism of distressing feelings.
When I talked to my teacher about the issue, she explained to me what was going on. The guidelines I was trying to enact are about dealing constructively with the negative emotions we unavoidably experience as human beings, rather than denying, judging or suppressing them.
This does not only apply to Reiki practitioners. Many people are pursuing methods of mindful living, positive thinking, and personal growth, or following a spiritual practice. Most of us know from experience that, no matter how good we try to be, sometimes we can’t help but act or feel in very unsaintly ways. What I would like to bring across is that these are not moments of failure, but of challenge and opportunity.
We get angry, scared, sad or doubtful for a reason. As unpleasant as these states are, they give us valuable information about ourselves, our current situation, and the necessity of taking action. Without them, we would be defenseless in this world.
6 Ways to Overcome Your Negative Emotions
So, even though we may wish to be all positive about life, it is healthier for us to acknowledge our negative emotions, be attentive to their meaning, and grateful for their service. Negative emotions and thoughts carry an immense potential for positive transmutation.
Here are 6 ways to overcome your negative emotions:
1. Don’t fight negative emotions.
Simply put, what you fight becomes stronger. If you imagine your darker feelings and thoughts as little monsters who want your attention at all costs, you will realize that telling them to shut up will only enrage them more. Even if you manage to silence those critters, for now, next time they will have gathered strength and might be back with a revenge.
2. Listen to the message.
Why are you angry, scared, worried, etc.? Maybe a situation or a person in your life is harming you. In this case, be grateful your psyche set off the alarm bells and reminds you to protect yourself. Often, negative emotions are simply a call for action. When you make changes, be sure not to return the harm done to you in blind impulse, but to create improvement for yourself in a responsible manner.
3. Question the origin of negative emotions.
Sometimes, a present situation reminds your subconscious of a past conflict, and you go into defense mode even though right now you are safe. Ask yourself if your emotions are assertive, or the result of assumptions, prejudices, and bad memories. If they are, don’t judge yourself, but put your psyche at ease by giving it thanks for being so vigilant. Allow yourself to relax, and reevaluate the situation.
4. Identify foreign emotions.
Sometimes we unwittingly absorb other’s feelings and thoughts. This happens especially within families and other close-knit social units, where behavioral patterns, ideas, and beliefs, are perpetuated through repetition and imitation. If this were not so, humans could not form cohesive societies, but this mechanism can also get the better of us.
See if your dislike towards someone stems from the negative talk you heard, rather than from your own interactions with said person.
Examine if your fears come from your own experience, or from someone else’s frightening tales. To free yourself from emotions that are not yours, form your own opinion by opening up to what they are trying to make you avoid.
5. No stories!
It is important not to “freeze” emotions up in an explanatory narrative. This is a common way of skipping the work that comes with metabolizing your negative feelings and thoughts into personal growth.
Being honest with oneself is scary, and so is letting go of ingrained emotional habits we may have been hiding behind for a long time. However, both are necessary for learning and healing.
I find it helpful to imagine “recycling” heavy emotions. I sit in silence, letting my breath calm down. Then, I visualize a bright source of light in the room with me. The light from this source is flowing into me with every inhalation.
Upon exhaling, I see the light leaving me and carrying with it little dark particles – my heavy feelings and thoughts. I address them with “I acknowledge you, I am grateful for your work, and I release you into the light, where you will be transformed into light.
I allow the space you left vacant to be filled with fresh light from the source.” I let this cycle run for some rounds until I feel clearer. If you prefer guided meditations, you can find many of them online.
With the help of these strategies, you will gradually get to know yourself and love yourself, better. Our emotions serve us faithfully. It is when we judge and suppress them, that they will torment us to get their message through.
The best we can do is to listen right away. As for myself, I now know that “Only for today, I will not anger” does not mean I can’t get angry. It means that when I get angry, I must find a way of transmuting the emotion into something that will help me grow beyond it.