Negative emotions are a great tool for self-discovery as it can reveal underlying issues. A lot of people shy away from negative emotions due to the intense feelings. A person takes anger management classes to control their anger or a person learns to suppress their feelings.
While it’s extremely important to manage your emotions, there’s also vital lessons that can be learned when negative feelings are triggered. For example, when someone criticizes us, how come we get so defensive? Might there be an element of truth to what they are saying? That’s why we react defensively? Or is it because our “perfect ego” has just taken a hit and now we have to defend our perfection? Investigating why we get defensive may lead us to a conclusion about ourselves we didn’t even realize.
If a situation is causing you to be triggered, use it to identify underlying beliefs. Here’s an example from my personal life: Back in 2014, I was dating a girl for a couple months and all of a sudden she stopped texting and calling me back. I starting getting really frustrated. At that moment, I took a mental step-back and processed why I was feeling this way. I asked myself a series of questions:
- What am I feeling right now? Frustrated
- Why do I feel frustrated? Because she’s ignoring me
- What do I have to believe is true for me to feel frustrated in this situation? I believe she’s not interested in me anymore.
- How does that make you feel? Rejected and unwanted
- What do I have to believe is true for me to feel rejected in this situation? I’m not good enough, that’s why she’s not interested.
A-Ha! By processing the initial reaction of frustration, it led me to a deeper issue of my self-worth. So now I know what the issue was, I could work on it and improve that area. As a result, I raised my self-worth and affirmed to myself that “I’m a catch and if she doesn’t see it, it’s her loss!”
I encourage you to do the same thing and process your negative feelings when they are triggered, especially if it’s an intense emotion. Use the same questions I asked myself as a guideline and tailor it to your specific situation.