We’ve grown up thinking that feeling bad means that there is something wrong with us, them, or the situation and that this something wrong needs to be dealt with or avoided.
Here’s a common example: We feel tense thinking about a critically important, upcoming meeting. We tell ourselves something like, “Oh, boy. This might not go well.” We continue to dwell and play out in our heads what would happen if this meeting doesn’t go well. And now we feel even worse.
Reacting to this bad feeling, we may over prepare, underplay the importance, emotionally withdraw, get aggressive, etc. Instead of employing our talents in this meeting, we divert our energy and attention to these defensive moves. Our performance suffers whenever we use these moves.
And something like this happens every time we feel bad. Ugh.
But wait. (You knew there’d be good news, right?)
A bad feeling is just a signal. It means that our current interpretation of things is out of step with what we, deep down, know is true. Think of a bad feeling as the tool that the wiser part of us uses to get our attention.
In our example, the tense feeling before the meeting is the signal. As we start to think, “Oh, boy…” our wiser-selves know better and jump in. They want us to hear, “Relax. You got this. Be cool. Be open. You can handle whatever may happen. You’re good. You’re talented. ‘Perfect’ is so not what’s needed here; what’s needed is your care and attention. Breathe.”
If we catch the signal and ask ourselves what the better perspective is then the bad feeling evaporates, we avoid using those defensive moves, we become much more present, and we get to apply all our talents to this meeting or whatever situation is at hand. So much better, yes?
In your corner,
PS: Yes, of course you have a wiser part of you. It is the perspective shift that you notice as you do this exercise.