“Suffering is one of life’s great teachers.” ― Bryant McGill
Everything we encounter in life has something to teach us. Everything. Including – and perhaps especially – negative experiences.
It’s easy to get bogged down when negativity seems to appear everywhere in our lives. Our group members who don’t do their part, our colleagues who are difficult, important documents gone missing on our computers. These things are hard!
But these things are also an opportunity. They are an opportunity to see the lesson that life is trying to teach us. They are an opportunity to take what feels out of our control and put it back into our control by deciding how it will affect us emotionally.
You might be feeling like emotions cannot be controlled. They just exist. They just appear suddenly. This may be true, but you can learn to control them better. Here’s a tip on how to do that.
Every time you feel yourself being frustrated, angry, disappointed, or sad because of a situation, take a minute to identify the exact emotion you are feeling. Take some deep breaths. Identify what is making you feel that way. (“My group members are so lazy and my grade is at stake!”) Then take a minute and ask yourself, if I am living this life in order to learn about myself, what is the lesson here? How I can I show up for myself in the ways these people outside of me are not? (“I can be more patient.” “I can take the initiative to talk with my professor, because I am a strong person.”) Remember again that if your life is about you and your lessons, it’s important to remember that outward experiences ultimately tell you about your own inner landscape.
If you are having a particularly difficult time with this, you may first need to tell yourself some positive affirmations to get into a mindset where you are able to receive the lesson. (“I am a strong person.” “I am a reliable person.”) Notice that these affirmations are just about you; they do not accuse anyone else nor are they in contrast to anyone else.
“Life doesn’t happen to you; life happens for you.” – Jim Carrey
If you take the time to look for the lessons life is teaching you when something negative happens, you reclaim some of what feels like lost power. In reality, it is just the perception of lost power. You are always in control of your life. Not the circumstances or things that happen – no. But you are in control of your reactions. You can learn to cope better with your emotions.
Do not shame yourself for your emotions, even as you recognize that they are painful. Instead, use them as a teacher. Let them show you how to show up for yourself when the outer world isn’t. Learn your lessons and move forward, and you will attract better experiences into your life.
It’s OK to feel your emotions if you are using them positively. Negative emotions are just negative energy, but as the laws of physics show us, energy cannot be created or destroyed – only transformed. You can turn that negative energy into positive energy.
I know it’s very painful sometimes. But through suffering we can find the greatest opportunities for personal growth, if we learn how to turn the negative into positive.