Do you ever look at Facebook or Instagram and wonder why everyone else seems to be much happier than you? Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is life is 50/50. You are completely normal. No one is happy all the time; social media is just an illusion. The bad news is life is 50/50, you’re never going to be happy all the time. It’s always going to be 50/50.
There is opposition in all things. To know what happy feels like, you have to know what sad feels like. To know peace you must know conflict. This is how the universe works. The fact that you feel negative emotion is not a bad thing. You are completely normal. You aren’t doing it wrong.
So why does this matter? Why is this useful to know? So you can stop resisting negative emotion. We spend so much time trying to resist and/or avoid negative emotion. This only intensifies the negative emotion. Let’s say I have to speak in front of a large audience. I’m feeling nervous. I don’t like feeling nervous so I resist it. Now I feel anxiety on top of nervousness. I’ve doubled my negative emotion. What if instead I just said to myself “I feel nervous and that’s ok?” I relax into it. I find the feeling of nervous in my body and I just let it be there. It’s a completely different experience.
Another option for my nervousness might be buffering. I feel nervous so I grab my food of choice. Eating decreases the vibration in my body so I feel a little better. But now I’ve eaten more than I need to eat for fuel and I gain weight. In order to avoid feeling nervous, I’ve added more negative to my net result.
When you truly understand that negative emotion is nothing to fear and that it’s completely normal, your experience with negative emotion becomes so much better. You will still experience negative emotion half the time, but it won’t be nearly as intense of an experience and you won’t be adding more negative emotions on top of it.
Another pitfall to avoid is beating yourself up for feeling negative emotion. Over the past few weeks I’ve been telling you all your emotions are created by your thoughts. Let’s say my kids do something and I feel annoyed. Since I know I’m creating the feeling of annoyed with my thoughts, then I get mad at myself for creating annoyed. This isn’t helpful. We’re humans with human brains. Our brains are always going to offer us thoughts that don’t serve us. It’s not a big deal.
My favorite tool in scenarios like this is “I’m annoyed right now and that’s ok.” I know I’m creating it. I know it’s not anything my kids are doing. I know that my human brain is just being a human brain. And it’s not a big deal. When I’m ok with feeling annoyed, I’m almost immediately much less annoyed. It’s only when I try to resist being annoyed that feeling annoyed feels unbearable.
How can I use this 50/50 rule to my advantage? This is one my favorite tools. If I’m going to feel negative emotion half the time, what negative emotions can I use to my benefit? At the Life Coach School we like to say “Discomfort is the currency to your dreams.” As you set goals and work towards being the person you want to become and doing the things you want to do, there is going to be a lot of discomfort. When I purposely put myself in situations that will challenge me, I know I’m going to have thoughts that will create discomfort. Rather than waiting for life to throw something at me, I choose. Can I really just choose my negative emotion like this? Why not? It’s going to be 50/50 either way, why not choose negative emotions that will get you the results you want?
Here’s another way to think about this: I’m trying to lose weight. I’ve set a protocol up for myself and I’ve committed to follow that protocol. And then I have an urge to eat something that isn’t on that protocol. Maybe someone brings something delicious into work and offers it to me. Here’s the fun part: in this scenario I’m going to feel disappointment no matter what I choose. I can stick to my protocol and feel disappointed that I didn’t get to experience the delicious treat. Or I can eat the delicious treat and feel disappointed that I didn’t follow my protocol and that I’m not any closer to reaching my goal.
Disappointment is part of the equation no matter what. So why not choose the disappointment that serves me? If the reason to give in to my urge is because I don’t want to feel disappointed, there isn’t any reason to give in. Because I’m going to feel disappointed anyway.
Negative emotion isn’t something to fear. It’s part of the human experience. And it’s going to be around about 50% of the time. If we can embrace it, allow it to be there, and use it to our advantage, it’s kind of like tricking the system. If the negative isn’t so negative anymore, we kind of tipped the scales to have more positive.
Give it a try and tell me what you think.