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List of negative emotions

Frequently negative feelings can get locked up inside us, and then they can fester. One of our most vital skills is developing an ability to listen to the true story of our lives: the conflict between the things we feel—the things our bodies register—and the things we think we ought to feel, so as to comply with moral norms and social standards that we have been taught and have internalized at a very early age. If and when these thoughts and feelings are in conflict, they can and will turn negative.

Many of these negative feelings come from the basic, simple reality that our parents were possibly unable to love us in the way that we needed to be loved or respected as a child—I am being very careful with my wording here. If you were truly loved in childhood, then you will love your parents in return: this is natural. If you were truly accepted in the school playground, then you will feel respected and view others healthily as well. We need simple love, acceptance, and respect. However, those around us as we were growing up may have wanted us to be more “this” or more “that”—either for their own needs, or because they truly believed that this would be good for us. They might have loved us or liked us, but they also wanted us to be different. Any sort of (conditional) love, acceptance, or respect has the effect of changing who we are. In order to get the love, acceptance, or respect that we need for our emotional survival, we become the “good boy” or the “nice girl”, or whatever seems to be demanded of us. They have the power and, as children, we are dependent on them. So, in order to get their love or respect, we had to conform.

However, any form of enforced or conditional love can do a great deal of harm. This conformity becomes a trap. We need love and acceptance for our emotional survival, so we suppress the supposedly “bad” or “nasty” sides of ourselves in order to get it. These are not necessarily bad or nasty feelings—they are just the ones that are not accepted by those around us. They do not seem to accept or respect our differences, or uniqueness, so we adapt. In so doing, we lose contact with ourselves; we also lose the ability to express our true feelings and we keep our differences inside. Because they are unacceptable, they become “bad” or “nasty” feelings. However, these were also part of our uniqueness, and this lack (and subsequent distortion) impedes our creativity, our vitality, our integrity, and our authenticity. We conform instead to the mediocre and the mundane. This sort of conditional love (where you get love and acceptance only if you meet certain requirements) was probably made up out of quite a mixture of different ingredients: expectations, denial, illusions, obedience, fear, the anticipation of punishment, gratitude (for crumbs), bias, bigotry, ignorance, etc. If you experienced any of these as you grew up, then you may well have some of the resultant negative feelings: this is almost inevitable. This list of things denies and obfuscates love, respect, and acceptance, which is essentially what we need to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. But what can happen to these negative feelings locked up inside ourselves? If they were ever to come out and get (say) directed back against our parents, people who we are/were totally dependent on, then we could not easily express these, they would not accept them, and we would become unacceptable. These people might not then love us, or might reject us further, and then we could not survive emotionally—possibly even physically.

So, we internalize these negative feelings even more, for a very valid reason: survival. This suppression eventually becomes chronic (long-term) and by this time we have also cut off a bit from the internal conflict (of trying to be “good” or “nice” but feeling “bad” or “nasty” inside) by anaesthetizing all of this “stuff” so that it has now become a set of sub-conscious feelings and thus is largely inaccessible. After a while, we just “know” (inside) that we are “bad” or “nasty” because we have all these “bad” or “nasty” feelings inside ourselves. We also forget about our uniqueness, as it was not accepted or respected and became quite painful whenever it emerged. This becomes a form of rejection for who you really are, from those outside you, who want you to be “nice” or “good”, and from yourself, who now feels that you are really “bad” or “nasty” inside. This rejection, or separation from yourself, can ultimately turn out to be quite harmful and corrosive. We can end up thinking, “Oh, there must be something wrong with me.”In later life, the beginning of a cure is when it actually becomes acceptable to get angry, or to feel a degree of self-esteem, and start to reject some of this old internalization. As you can see, the process of working with these negative emotions is quite complex.

Layer after layer has to be peeled away. It is all relatively straightforward, but it is certainly not easy. However, eventually we start to get clear, or clearer about ourselves. The above sentence can then become, “There was nothing, and is nothing, fundamentally wrong with me.”

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