Sara Chana Silverstein is a long time contributor to Green Child. Today we’re sharing an excerpt we loved from her new book, Moodtopia: Tame Your Moods, De-Stress, and Find Balance Using Herbal Remedies, Aromatherapy, and More, about the hidden benefits of negative emotions and how we can learn from them.
Every single human being, no matter what culture or country he or she comes from, experiences all of these emotions: happiness, frustration, agitation, anger, sadness, and melancholy in the same cyclic way.
But like me, when these feelings finally pass, we suddenly develop amnesia and forget that we’d ever had them.
Moody people often think in extremes: “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me!” “I’ve never been so hurt!” “I’m so angry I can explode!” As you’ll see, these emotions are neither good nor bad. Rather, they’re real and true and part of how we were created.
To know this gives you power.
I wish that children in preschool, elementary, junior and senior high school, and even college were taught to appreciate all of their feelings—the good and also the so-called bad ones. Most people are ashamed of their deep emotions and don’t realize that most of us experience them.
They can feel isolated, scared, and intimidated as they believe that something is very wrong with them. They try to hide their emotions, or squash or repress them, and as a result, they get moody. But these feelings are part of human nature and can actually be good for them.
The Benefits of Negative Emotions
Let’s look at the hidden positive aspects of the emotions we usually want to push aside.
The benefits of feeling frustrated
Often we feel powerless when frustrated, but the experience doesn’t have to be negative. Frustration is positive when it propels us forward. We can allow this aggravation to either hold us back or push us toward action.
Sometimes we have to become really frustrated to generate the energy needed to make a change. Without this irritant, we could remain stuck in a situation that’s hurtful for us. That’s why frustration must be honored and applauded. If we use it properly, it’s often followed by amazing results.
The benefits of sadness
Paradoxically, sadness is positive because it can fill us with appreciation for what has been good in our lives. It can help us treasure those special moments and render us more caring. Having experienced sadness also gives us the ability to feel compassionate toward others who’ve gone through or are going through what we are.
It can connect us to them more deeply and open us to receiving their help. And it can fill us with appreciation for the times we don’t feel sad.
The benefits of tears
Emotional tears also contain more mood-regulating manganese than do the other types. Stephen Sideroff, a clinical psychologist at UCLA and director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics, explains that stress “tightens muscles and heightens tension, so when you cry you release some of that because crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps restores the body to a state of balance.”
The benefits of anger
Anger brings a lot of power with it and can be a motivating force that allows us to accomplish things we couldn’t if we remained more passive. It can give us the push to defend the underdog and combat what feels like aggressive forces that can be blocking our success. Acknowledging anger and not trying to suppress it can help lower stress on the heart and manage pain. Expressing anger as it arises, instead of bottling it up and then letting it all out in one explosive blast, can help us tame its intense power. Perhaps more than anything else, anger benefits us by alerting us that something is wrong and needs action. Indeed, being in denial is often more dangerous then anger.
Benefits of the blues
The blues have the ability to stop you in your tracks and push you to take action, because like physical pain, they’re a signal that something wrong needs fixing. The social withdrawal that sometimes accompanies melancholy can help people examine issues in their life that are not working.
Being alone is not “bad.” It can give you time to really understand where the sadness came from and what your next step should be. The blessing is that once you’ve gone through tough times, you can come out the other end stronger and more resilient. This gives you the experience to be able to help another person to endure the same situation.
As such, then, singing the blues is really a gift.
Excerpted from Moodtopia: Tame Your Moods, De-Stress, and Find Balance Using Herbal Remedies, Aromatherapy, and More by Sara-Chana Silverstein. Copyright © 2018. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.