I've been thinking a lot about negative emotions recently.
You see, positive psychology is all about 'building what's strong' over 'fixing what's wrong'. It doesn't deny the negative, it just wishes to balance out the scales of traditional psychology, where nearly all the focus and money has been on researching the negative. (Given the psychological aftermath of WWII, that was probably necessary for quite a while!)
And then there's Liz Gilbert, who says it's about befriending your fear, and Brene Brown, who tells us that vulnerability is the most accurate measure of courage.
Jealousy, however, is one of those emotions that I feel embarrassed about feeling. Anger can feel strong and defiant, vulnerability brings on the cuddles in no time. But jealousy? I wouldn't want to admit to feeling that. It makes me feel petty and small-hearted.
Until, on one of the many soul-nourishing e-courses I've done with Susannah Conway, she gently suggests that jealousy is simply your heart telling you what it longs for...
It's quite romantic, this notion that beneath all their prickly, achey, ickiness, our negative emotions are actually looking out for us. That if we sit with them and listen with an open heart, they may eventually pass us a secret love note...
Coz you know what happens when you tell someone they suck, right? That they should just shut up and go away? Typically, they come back banging and whining and fighting harder.
And so, I've been inspired to write a little love poem to all my negative emotions. It's time we make peace. Here goes...
Jealousy shows me what my heart longs for,
Frustration stirs the fire in my core.
Failure asks, well, is it worth fighting for?
Oh yeah? Then quit sulking and do it some more!
Shame reveals the voices that I need to shake.
Pain slams down on the emergency break.
Fear reminds me what’s at stake
Though I’m learning to discern between stick and snake.
Cracks, they say, let in the light.
And scars, they keep our healing in sight.
Though heartbreak leaves me shattered on the floor,
it hands me the glue that makes me stronger than before.
Anger shows me the line in the sand.
It shouts, hey girl, this is where you stand!
Vulnerability whispers that if I strip bare,
It’s courage, not weakness, that resides in there.
Have your negative emotions ever handed you secret love notes or gifts? Leave me a little comment coz I'd love to know! C x