How To Put 5 Uncomfortable Feelings To Good Use
The current obsession with the pursuit of happiness is a massive indicator that we are in emotional pain. If we didn’t feel unhappy we wouldn’t even be bothering about happiness. And this relentless focus on positivity leaves us little option other than to keep the dark side under wraps. So as a champion for all feelings, I want to show you how some of our thorniest emotions can enlighten and enrich our lives.
In boredom, time stretches, slows and even seems to stand still. An oppressive sense of emptiness can accompany it as our sense of significance and purpose drain away. And in boredom we reach for our usual distractions. But in this state of emptiness lies the most fertile ground for creativity and change. Keep automatically distracting yourself and things will remain the same. Allow time to stretch a little and you may be surprised by how creative you can get.
Reframe boredom as time to reflect, even if it feels uncomfortable. It is often in times of stillness that we find out what we need. If you are a repeat distractor, start off with small periods of non-distraction and build up to longer periods…like training for a marathon.
Regret is our minds way of telling us to look again at the choices we have made. And it gives us the opportunity to align those choices with who we are…or indeed who we want to be. A cautious decision that results in a loss of opportunity, can motivate us to be more courageous in the future.
Regret is also a great chance to try and challenge the way you talk to yourself. If you are prone to ‘should’ type thinking you will be more likely to struggle with regret. It might seem a good motivator to tell yourself you ought to have known better, but it’s actually punishing. And it is compassion rather than punishment that heals regret. So if you feel regret it’s a good chance to practice cutting yourself some slack.
Guilt gets activated when you have acted…or failed to act in a way that you feel is wrong and has caused harm. It signals the opportunity either to put something right with someone, or to take a good look at the principles you are living by. Guilt announces that you have transgressed an important personal value and this gives you the opportunity to realign yourself with those values…or reassess them. Dealt with in this way guilt has the power to motivate rather than paralyse.
According to philosopher Betrand Russell, envy is one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. So it’s worth getting constructive about. Think of it like a flag. And on the flag is written the very thing that you need to focus on in your life. Instead of feeling powerless in the face of someone else’s fortune, use it as a indicator of what changes you need to make. Envy is blind, the latin for envy ‘Invidia’ means ‘non-sight’. But see envy for what it is and you shine a light on the part of you that needs nourishing.
Shame is one of the loneliest of emotions. But even in this most painful of places we can be constructive. Shame is universal, and there is much to say about it. For now though, shame is an opportunity to enhance your capacity for empathy and forgiveness. If you have behaved in a way that you find embarrassing or wrong, look hard at the beliefs you hold. Do you hold a belief that no-one should ever do anything silly, or foolish or wrong? Is this realistic? We’ve all said and done things we wish we hadn’t. Are you really a bad person? Or just human. Imagine what you would say to a friend in a similar position, this can be a powerful tool to access your forgiving side.
Happiness is a wonderful feeling, but it is fleeting. There are so many other sides to us. Aspiring to be the best versions of ourselves, given our faults, is a better use of time than trying to live as if its wrong to have faults in the first place.
‘To be fully aware and embracing of all that is within us and consciously seeking to be all that we can be is our most noble quest.’
- Carl Jung
Photo by stevanovicigor