by Eileen Campbell
Letting go of negative emotions is vital if we want to have more joy in our lives. We all experience a broad range of emotions, but negative emotions like fear, anger, resentment, guilt, and shame emerge when life doesn’t go the way we want it, which it rarely does. Such emotions can be problematic and prevent us from experiencing true joy. Whereas positive emotions like love, openness, courage, and empathy enhance life and health, negative emotions create tension and stress.
The origin of negative emotions lies in our past. We have forgotten what was effectively programmed into our brains in childhood and have remained as misperceptions in our thinking. We actually make our lives more difficult than they need be by holding on to long-held beliefs and self-imposed limitations that are no longer appropriate. As children we wanted love and approval from our parents, and as we grew up, from our teachers and peers. We learned how to get our needs met by adopting certain patterns of behaviour, and these became habits. Gradually we created a self-image, and in order to make sense of our lives, we told ourselves stories about who we were, and we continue to do this, modifying and justifying that self-image that is our identity.
By becoming more aware of these stories we tell ourselves and the roles we play automatically that cause us unhappiness, we can begin to let go of them. It’s our thoughts that create emotions, and we tend to think we are our emotions, when they are simply feelings – they are not who we are. Only when we become more aware of our thoughts can we begin to see them for what they are and let them go.
Although there’s much that we cannot control in life, we always have a choice about what our thoughts dwell on, as Rumi cautioned us:
‘Stop walking in your own shadow
Wallowing in your foolish thoughts.
Raise your head, look at the sun, walk
Among the flowers, become a human being.’
We need to take an honest look at our past in order to understand, leaving behind the hurts, fears, and disappointments of our earlier years. Whatever happened is in the past, and we need to accept that the wounds were inflicted, but there is no need to keep revisiting them and suffering. We can let the circumstances of our life close us down, or we can let them open us up. We can let go of our negative thoughts. By becoming more aware of the patterns that run through our lives, we can change what we believe is who we are. Once we see ourselves more clearly we can begin to accept and love ourselves. We can also reshape our stories to give us what we most want out of life for the future.
Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.