The Yin & Yang of Feelings

As a society, we prefer to focus on negative elements instead of the positive. This is especially true in the realm of personal feelings. We focus so much on negative feelings that we lose sight of how to learn and grow from them.

Each feeling has a positive and a negative aspect and usually results from an action either we or someone close to us made. How we perceive these feelings is entirely up to us, whether to focus on the positive or the negative. None of us want to waste time or energy on destructive feelings but instead use that energy to effortlessly change ourselves for the better. Rarely do we realize this, instead just passively “going with the flow.”

Realizing when negative feelings arise whenever something happens is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Usually when we are experiencing negative feelings, we are at our weakest. Negative feelings arise whenever we blame ourselves for the inherent effects from a choice that we made. None of us go out with the intent to hurt others, but life and people are complex things which no one is perfectly able to predict. We only wish to do right by ourselves but unfortunately our individual paths may contradict another’s. Instead of seeing a mistake for what it is, we focus that blame into a form of self-hate, further fueling the negative feelings.

Whenever a negative feeling arises, give it a name: “I feel guilty because I made someone else regret a decision that they made after offering my opinions on it.” By naming these feelings, we can associate the positive aspect to the same feeling in order for it to become constructive: “I must let people make their own decisions and only offer my opinions when asked. When I offer my opinions, I must caveat that I realize what would be best for me may not be the best for them. We are all different.”

Depending on the situation in which the negative feelings arise, this can either be a quick fix or a long-term dilemma that we have to resolve. For more difficult situations and the longer we spend on them, the more susceptible we are to revert back to negative feelings. Pause, take a step back, breathe… Nothing is ever so critical that it needs to be resolved right this moment. We are more than our emotions and if we take a short break from them we can refocus our efforts with a clearer mind.

There is always a positive aspect to the situations and feelings we encounter and lessons and growth to be had from them. For our feelings, we can choose how we let ourselves be affected by them. Positive mind, positive vibes, positive life…

Understanding Motives

When was the last time you actually paused for a moment and tried to understand someone? Truly understand… I do not mean in the sense of cause and effect; they did [that] for [these reasons]. I mean it in the sense that a person’s actions are a reflection of a cumulative causality based off of their life experiences, their upbringing, their relationships, and what they are exposed to.

Going about our daily lives, the people that we come across are living in their own. The disheveled mother blocking the aisle, the inattentive cashier at the grocery store, the aggressive driver that cut you off in traffic… How often have you paused to think of what is possessing them to act in that way? What drives their story?

“No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one’s life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.” – Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

The disheveled mother is fraught with worry on how she is going to take care of everything at home while the husband flushes his paycheck down with alcohol? The inattentive cashier, pondering how he is going to make ends meet this week because he just had to buy a new set of tires in order to make it to work that day? The driver, on his way to the hospital to see a family member for the last time as they lay on their deathbed. We never really know unless we ask. But when do we ask anymore?

To truly understand someone does not excuse them of responsibility for their actions. Understanding is not the right term… Empathy. To feel empathy for their actions… We focus so much on cause and effect relationships that we never attempt to understand the deeper meaning of their actions. To feel empathy for another.

When we fail to understand the motive, we no longer feel empathy towards others.