7 Ways To Use Negative Emotions To Your Advantage

by Brianna Wiest

Emotions don't happen randomly. Neither do thoughts. That's a scary thing to swallow, because it often seems like these feelings and ideas (especially the upsetting and creepy ones) pop into our minds and bodies for no reason. The reality is that they are usually metaphors and representations of something you're not addressing. Emotions (and thoughts) don't take scary abstract forms unless their causes have gone ignored for too long: it's our subconscious' way of informing us we need to take action. What we choose to do is up to us.

Most people like to keep suppressing things, thinking they can ignore them until eventually they disappear. Not only does this not work, but it also lets a really crucial opportunity slide. To know what you don't want in life is to see clearly what you do; we tend to resist the things we most want and cover up our true intentions because acting on them makes us vulnerable. If you truly want to know what you really want in life, ask yourself what is on the other side of everything you fear.

When negative thoughts and emotions come up, it's a call to see them for what they are, and use them to our advantage. If that seems confusing, here are a few guidelines to get you started.

Appreciate What The Negative Emotion Is Trying To Tell You

Your negative emotions aren't present to destroy your life, they're there to guide you, often in more intense ways than your positive emotions ever will. Think about it this way: if you put your hand on a hot stove, it will start to hurt so you know to move it off before it disintegrates. That pain response is the only way to be able to know that something isn't right. When your emotional response is firing off, ask it what it wants you to know, and be grateful it's there to tell you.

Be Thankful For The Lesson

If it's not so much a "change" that has to happen in your life, it's probably more something you have to learn: i.e., don't keep surrounding yourself with people you pretend to like, don't be so hard on yourself, etc. Regardless, negative emotions always have a positive lesson — one that will change your life for the better, and make the means seem very worth the end result.

Take A Difficult Moment As An Opportunity To Seek A Greater Truth

If you don't want to sit around believing that life is a sh*t show you must simply survive, find something that rings truer. If you don't want to go around believing that love ends and dies and that's it, find something that makes more sense to you. When things seem most desperately bleak, it usually means there's a space in which you must learn something better and more true. Take the opportunity to do so, you'll be grateful that you did.

Take Responsibility For How You Feel

What this teaches you is that only you can save you. The reality is that a lot of people *think* they know that, but still complain about people and circumstances and all the reasons why everything else caused their emotions but them. The truth is that you respond to your environment, your environment does not create your emotional state. Take responsibility for your emotions and subsequently take the first step in truly owning them, and using them, and appreciating them.

Let Your Emotions Help You Develop Empathy

If worse comes to worst and there's no healing or truth finding or responsibility taking you feel you can bear — feel your emotion in its entirety, and then let it help you grow your sympathetic abilities. The more acquainted you are with the human condition, the more you can be sensitive and understanding of the people around you.

Learn To Have Compassion For Yourself

The first step of healing is having compassion for yourself. Compassion means understanding. It means getting on the ground level with yourself and completely being there. It's something we're taught to give to others, but rarely inspired to give to ourselves.

What You Want Most Is On The Other Side Of What You're Afraid Of — Focus On That Instead

Let your emotions teach you the most important thing there is to know about yourself: what you really want. Feeling bad isn't failure, not being able to perceive when you're not on track toward what you desire is. When you turn your emotions inside out, realize that at their core is probably love in some form. If nothing else, just know that negative emotions pass, but dissolve when you take the cue they're trying to signal you to — not that the world is a mess and your life is terrible and all hell is about to break loose, but that the love you want is being blocked by the life you fear. Listen to it. Learn from it. Do something about it.

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