For most of us, a state of love and gratitude would be the preferred emotional state we would like to exist in. However, we can all experience difficult emotions, like anger, fear, sadness, guilt, shame, hurt and frustration at times throughout their lives. We may worry about what the future holds, or whether we will lose our job, house or health. We might feel shame or embarrassment about a change in circumstances and what our neighbours, family, friends or colleagues might think.
When you are experiencing these challenging emotions, it is easy to blame others, feel paralysed or even lose hope. Physiologically, chronic emotional distress is not good for health. Cortisol levels increase and we can get excess inflammation in the body. In these circumstances in the short term we will only be able to see the downsides to a situation.
If you are experiencing difficult emotions right now, this article will help you to see them as a prompt, a message from your unconscious or intuition to search for the other side and look for the blessing in any crisis. It is our attitude in these times of challenge that determines how much love and gratitude can enter into our lives.
In this article, I will explain how you can look at your emotional pain and the events that surround it (or led to it) from a completely different angle. This can enable you to see a bigger picture, the full picture, including the upsides. By having a more balanced perspective, you can let go of suffering and instead experience balance, which brings with it, love and gratitude.
If you have an open mind and a willingness to do some work, this article provides a framework to transform your emotional distress into love and gratitude.
The two types of gratitude
Gratitude has been shown to encourage optimum health and wellbeing and some people believe it has a deeper role in emotional and physical healing.
There are two types of gratitude in life, and they both have a place:
- Gratitude for all the things you already associate positively with.
- Gratitude for events that have challenged you and you previously had a negative association with.
The first type of gratitude is the easiest to reach out for when we find ourselves in a negative emotional state. When we are able to “snap out” of a negative state, we naturally find a more balanced perspective to events. However, this type of gratitude is only short-term and doesn’t require an underlying shift in our consciousness.
The second type of gratitude is harder to achieve but includes a fundamental shift in consciousness and comes from deep within. When we fully integrate our perceptions of events and gratitude arises for the challenging events in our life, the effect is permanent and our association with an event is profoundly transformed.
Why do we feel emotional distress?
We experience significant emotional distress when we see only the downsides to an event (and hence are not conscious of any upsides). Conversely, we experience significant emotional euphoria when we see the upsides to an event (and hence are not conscious of any downsides).
For example, some people feel distressed when they perceive they are being over-challenged (by that I mean too many difficult things to deal with). This may be over challenged by specific people, specific events or life in general. For example, many of our lives have been severely disrupted this year due to a global pandemic – and being forced to juggle home schooling with working from home during lockdown for months has brought major challenges for many families.
Most people have a negative association with a challenge like this. “Challenge” and “support” are opposite sides of the same coin. When we perceive a challenge negatively, we will simultaneously appreciate any “positive” support. The negative emotional charge comes because we only see the downsides of challenge and feel in that moment that we are lacking the upsides of support.
The opposite can also be true too. For example, some children want to take on challenges and might get upset if one of their parents takes over and does something for them. With a suitable level of challenge, a child can build self-esteem by figuring out problems for themselves. This is why in these circumstances a child can see the downsides of support and the associated upsides of a challenge.
The path towards love and gratitude requires us to see and integrate both upsides and downsides of a situation. Love and gratitude are synthesised feelings, integrating both the positive and negative emotions (representing the integration of the perceived upsides and downsides).
To embrace both the upsides and downsides of an event demands a widening of conscious awareness. It takes a willingness to look again at events that you have initially judged as negative and consciously work to become aware of the benefits or upsides to you of that event. If you look hard enough you will find them. The more you become aware of the benefits of an event you associate negatively to, the more the negative emotional charge dissolves. You will know when you have balanced your perceptions when there is gratitude for that event coming into your life and sense of balanced love towards the person or people involved.
If there are significantly emotionally charged events that you have experienced, realise that at the beginning it can be difficult to see the positive. As you stack up more positive associations with the event, you will notice that it becomes easier to see even more reasons why the event has benefited you. For the events where we have the most associated negative charge, once you reach the point of balance, the gratitude and love which wells up from within is tremendously cathartic.
Equilibrating the mind
It can be helpful to use the metaphor of a magnet when looking at our emotions. Every “negatively” emotionally charged perception, has a “positive” opposite. When something is judged as “positive”, anything that doesn’t meet our “positive” expectations will be seen as negative. Even neutral events can then leave us in a negative emotional state. Having worked with hundreds of coaching clients, I am now certain that the more we try to hold onto our “positive” expectations, the more negativity we are encouraging. In fact, positive emotions and states can become addictive and eventually become linked to its opposite states. In the extreme, holding onto “positivity” can lead to emotional problems like bipolar and depression.
For these reasons it is wise to also consider and work on events which we have an excessive positive emotional association with. The process of balancing our positive associations is not the natural place to start with this work because we naturally want to hold onto our positive associations. Once we have balanced some of our most challenging negative associations, we will naturally become aware of the positive associations as they cannot be separated.
Transformational Coaching at La Crisalida Retreats
Understanding the mechanisms and inner causes of conflict in your life can be a difficult job to do on your own. One of the key benefits of transformational coaching at La Crisalida Retreats is that an expert coach helps you to uncover the hidden conflicts and associations that are creating problems in your life. In a transformational coaching session, you can expect, amongst other things, to balance emotional associations to any significant past events.
Success in transformational coaching is measured by achievement of an inner sense of calm, inspiration and self-confidence. You can find out more about online transformational coaching or Life and Success coaching here.
About the author
- John is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. He is a life and success coach, Transformational Coach and a master trainer in NLP. He leads our life makeover programme as well as overseeing the retreats.