The way we handle our inner world drives everything, every aspect of how we love, how we live, how we relate and how we die. This is true, psychology supports it, this has a trap: extreme positivity, toxic positivity. Phrases like: “you attract what you are” or “think positively and only good things will happen to you” are based in a perverse way on how emotions transform our experience of reality, and yes, I say experience of our reality and not the reality itself. Because just as in magic, only the intention is not enough to transform our environment.
The conventional view of emotions, as good or bad, positive or negative, is a rigid vision, and, even if you have not noticed, the world is complex and changing. Rigidity is toxic in facing complexity. Positivity, as the only and true choice, is toxic. We need more flexibility to achieve real resilience and to thrive.
The negation is destructive. Denying those emotions that we have been taught to label as negative is destroying you on the inside as well as denying that you are not doing anything wrong when you ignore or tolerate an act of discrimination destroys the social fabric.
The only certain thing is the uncertainty, and yet we are unable to face it in a way that does not hurt us because of that culture that catalogs emotions in good and bad. We can become absorbed in our feelings focused on being right or in becoming the victims of what happens around us; the other option, and perhaps the most dangerous, is that we could set aside our emotions and allow us to feel only those considered legitimate, positive.
It is good to feel “bad emotions”
We judge ourselves for having “bad emotions”, such as sadness, anger or pain. But not only do we do it with our own emotions, we also do it with the emotions of others. In an unpremeditated way we may embarrass others for having emotions considered negative, we try to take them to a solution so that they stop feeling that and that is when we fail to help them.
All those “bad emotions” are intrinsically valuable. The emotions, all of them, are normal and natural but now they are seen as good or bad and if you are not a positive person now you are someone bad: we have taken the feeling emotions to the level of moral rectitude.
To people who suffer from a deadly disease such as cancer, we automatically tell them to be positive, who is afraid to swim because they do not know we tell them not to swim and who is furious because they have received unfair treatment, we say let it calm down, and the list goes on.
The tyranny of positivity
We are before the tyranny of positivity, and like all tyrannies it is cruel, evil and ineffective. But the worst thing is that we do it to ourselves and to others. It is a rigid, authoritarian response to changing and fluid situations. It is an unsustainable response for individuals, families, for communities, for society, for the planet.
Psychologists have shown that when an emotion is pushed aside or ignored becomes stronger, they call it amplification. Maybe you think that by ignoring those emotions you are controlling them but the truth is that those emotions end up controlling you. The internal pain always comes to light. Forever. When we ignore and separate normal and natural emotions and cling to a false and toxic positivity we become incapable of facing the real world, we lose the abilities to face the change.
When you stop feeling the bad things you are died
Only the dead are not bothered by their “undesirable feelings”. Only the dead are never stressed, they do not complain, they do not break their hearts, they do not disappoint when they fail. The complicated emotions are the price we pay for living. We can not achieve a meaningful career, build a family or make the world a better place without stress and distress.
The total acceptance of all our emotions, even the most complex and difficult is the milestone for resilience and prosperity, for true happiness. But not only must we accept what we feel, we must also know precisely what we feel.
We usually label our emotions quickly and easily. By accurately labeling our emotions, we are better able to discern the exact cause of our feelings and that allows us to take concrete action. The right measures for us. Our emotions are data. Emotions contain indicators of things that matters to us. If you feel angry with the news maybe it means that you value fairness and justice and that is when you can work in that direction.
Take advantage of negative emotions
When we are open to difficult emotions we can generate responses aligned with our values. But we must keep in mind that emotions are data, not guidelines. We can reach and undermine our emotions for their values without having to listen to them. We can feel an indescribable anger towards someone but we do not have to follow that anger and hit him until the anger vanishes. We own our emotions, not the other way around.
When we internalize the difference between what we feel with what we know and what we should do in an action aligned with our values, we generate the change towards the best version of us through our emotions. The version that will make us proud of ourselves, but can not be extrapolated to someone else. There is never a universal solution for everyone.
Magical acts to feel and advance
If you feel a complicated, tough, strong emotion, don’t race for the emotional exits. Learns the contours of that emotion, go deep and ask yourself what is that emotion telling you? Do not look for a response type: “I’m angry” or “I’m sad”, when we say that we sound as if we were the feeling itself, but you are you and the feeling is a source of information. Try not to think “I’m sad” instead try to notice the feeling for what it is: “I’m noticing that I’m feeling sad”.
Paganism and witchcraft give us a lot of tools that we can go to go deeper in those feelings. Meditation can help us to deal with emotions in a way that we see them externally to ourselves in order to understand them. Divination can help us find clues about what we feel and why we feel it. There are an infinity of possibilities that we can put into practice depending on your religion or your magical path, explore them and find one that will help you understand what you feel.
Once you have faced your emotions, that you have analyzed them and you have understood them, you can decide what is best for you. But you should not have only the intention because the intention does not change things. I can have the intention to eat an apple but if I do the action of eating the apple it will still not be eaten. With magic happens the same. You already have the emotion, the motivation to get something, that emotion is related to the water, now you have to get the rest of the elements to bring that change to your life and that implies knowledge (air), will (fire) and work (earth).
Do not be an emotional zombie
A zombie is alive? The answer is no. It seems that he’s alive because he moves, eats and speaks (although this varies depending on what kind of zombie we’re speaking) but he’s really dead. With people who are constantly on the positive side, who do not allow themselves to feel “bad or ugly things”, and who move away from all the sadness, stress or pain, the same thing happens: they seem to be alive but they are really dead inside.
Only when we allow ourselves to feel all our emotions can we really live. Think that if negative emotions were not useful for us we would not have them as we adapt to the environment by detaching ourselves from other things throughout evolution. Emotions give us valuable information about ourselves and our environment.
All things that produce joy are also those that produce pain but that is the nature of things. Love, work, family, are sources of both feelings but help us make decisions that reconfigure our world to adapt to it. The loss, the pain, the guilt… are sources of information that tell us something is not right or something has changed and that we must act, not to stop feeling those emotions, if not to feel them, to know why the same and adapt to our new situation.
Diversity is not just something that is in nature or in human organizations, it is something that is in the human interior: it is emotional diversity. You must treat your emotions with curiosity and compassion and especially with the courage to make decisions that correspond to your values in order to achieve what you really want, what makes you happy and that sometimes involves feeling pain, stress, fear or sadness but the reward is much great.