Being Human

These days, social media are filled with influencer posts about positive vibes, about not allowing negative energy or thoughts to get to you, and surrounding yourself with only supportive, positive people.

Is this realistic? No, it isn`t. Because you will never grow if you attempt to avoid difficult experiences, you can remain emotionally stunted.

Because the bad parts of our human nature are where growth happening.

There are so many emotions that are just an opportunity for growth – challenge, sorrow, change, discomfort, conflict; hatred, depression, and anxiety are paths to growth and change. Painful or uncomfortable experiences enable us to grow past our current emotional and spiritual states.

Fake positivity can preserve a lot of the stigma around mental illness. Encouraging someone who has clinical depression to focus on the positive is unhelpful and can actually do more harm. This advice can bring the feeling that they are at fault because they cannot simply pull themselves up.

My clients don’t come to therapy because everything in their lives is going wonderfully. They are filled of negative emotions, and for them there is no way out.

Friends and loved ones can’t do it for us. It takes real courage to stop pretending you have it all together and shake hands with deep sadness or trauma.

Sometimes we just need to acknowledge these feelings—to sit with sorrow, resentment, or jealousy without trying to change the experience or pick it apart. We have to allow ourselves to witness emotions, to breathe into the places in our bodies where we are stuck. We experience a softening when we allow space for all emotions, not just those that feel good.

Being human means facing suffering.

There is no light without dark!

There is no happiness without sadness.

If we run from certain emotions by staying busy, expressing fake positivity, or abusing mood-altering substances, we are cutting away half our existence.

When we stop and accept difficult emotions, we have the opportunity to live fully. These feelings will torture us until we stop running from them.

Next time you feel a sense of anger, fear, or when you suffer, I challenge you to pause, and get still. Notice the feeling in your body and take a deep breath into that space. You might even place a hand on the spot where the emotion seems to reside. When you recognize these feelings, you truly accept your humanity. You may feel a loosening or a challenging emotion filling your body. But it will fade, like a wave that crashes on the shore before receding into the ocean.

Uncovering and understanding the self is a lifelong journey that demands rejection of conventional attitudes and the mask of positivity.

In the words of Buddhist teacher, author, and nun Pema Chödrön:

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear… are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They’re like messengers that tell us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck.

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