The War On Negative Emotions

AMBER ORTOLANO

AMBER ORTOLANO

 

When I was in my late teens and very early 20’s growing up in the Northwest, I had this group of friends that was immersed in 70’s bohemian culture.  It was the 90’s so we were like grunge hippies.  You can picture me with really long hair parted in the middle, baggy wool sweaters and corduroy pants, lots of crystal jewelry (that part hasn’t changed!) and Birkenstocks all the way.  We were born into that era and I think we were holding onto that nostalgia and innocence as we were leaving home and forming our adult selves. 

 

We were all about peace and love, classic rock and folk music, connecting with the Earth, and psychedelic trips.  It was love and light all the way man.  The thing was, I was also working with a fairly huge amount of anxiety and some depression at this time in my life. 

 

Those emotions were not welcome in my circle because they were “negative.”  Being a so-called downer was like a cardinal sin.  I remember the confusion and pain that it caused me to know that my very real emotions were not welcome and considered unacceptable.  And of course, not being able to vocalize my experience and receive support just turned up the volume on them to unbearable levels. 

 

I had to tuck them away somewhere in my body where they would eek out unexpectedly from time to time.   This is what happens when you feel things for seemingly no reason.   I hear this so frequently. 

 

“I just have these moments of rage that come out of nowhere.” 

“Everything is so good in my life and I don’t understand why I feel sad and shut down.” 

“I’m always anxious but I don’t know why.”

 

When emotions have been suppressed because there is no outlet, they are too much to bear, or there are no tools available to process them-they hide out.  They might be hiding out in your heart or your muscles.  They might be creating a low level internal churn of anxiety, mild constant sadness or irritation, a feeling of dullness or disconnection. 

 

The emotions our culture readily accepts are joy, love, happiness, peace, content, excitement!  The ones that it doesn’t enjoy so much are fear, sadness, anger, worry, grief, heartbreak.  It’s an epidemic and to me it feels like pouring glitter on something that’s rotten.  It’s a spiritual bypass to speed past the pain to get to the light. 

 

When you deny your emotional experience, it will always come back to bite you.  You can count on it.  The more tuned in you are to yourself, the less of a surprise this will be. 

 

I no longer use the phrase negative when describing emotions because I believe all emotions are informative.  Demonizing an emotion doesn’t help us know how to feel it or process it or talk about it.  If we feel bad or ashamed when we aren’t happy, we are doomed. 

 

Our essential state of being is joyful and peaceful.  We just need to scrub off the layers that obscure this light.  This is the work of our lifetime.  Finding the source of the pain and transforming it.  We miss the gold of the lesson if we deny the feeling. 

 

It is so not fun to be in a heavy, dense, dark emotional state.  Who wants that?  I don’t want that.  I also don’t want to move through life carrying that so I continue to dive in. 

 

I want to hold your hand and gently guide you through the dark.  We are grownups now so it’s safe to go back in time and sift through our own muck.  We can dip a toe in it and run screaming back to the shore.  Totally cool.  It’s all in our own time. 

 

Something very important is trying to come through whenever you are feeling a heavy emotion. 

 

Here are some of the things that can be lingering underneath the heavier emotions:

 

FEAR-disconnection from faith/source energy, over amplified nervous system from undigested or continued processing of trauma, not feeling safe or having a right to be in the world, not feeling rooted or stable, disconnected from community support, feeling alone, no solid foundation to move from

 

ANGER-seeing/feeling injustice, wanting to speak up and feeling unable to, not being heard or seen, feeling powerless, lack of control, feeling silenced, feeling trapped

 

GRIEF/DEPRESSION-processing loss of any kind, absence of deep intimacy, support or feeling known and understood, loneliness, hopelessness, lack of joy

 

ANXIETY-over amplified nervous system, disconnection from your personal rhythm, overworking and overthinking, too much information coming in, being more in the brain than the heart, lack of care taking of the physical body, denial of emotion

 

There is of course so much more but I want to offer you a bit of the what’s underneath to see where you might be able to connect some dots.  It’s time to end the war on negative emotions and welcome them all in as valuable information. 

 

Your emotions are like signs on the highway, directing you toward what needs healing and where to take action.  They contain vats of valuable information if you can sit quietly with them, commune with them and ask questions. 

 

I am here for you if you need a guide.