Emotions don’t always have to feel good.
Or more ironically, they don’t have to feel good in order to call them good emotions.
For instance, the next 3 emotions feel terrible. Most people hate them. Say their name and most people will ask you, “how do we get rid of them?”
However, I dare to call them good because they can be used to produce good results in your life.
Your life and your emotional health will not improve only through positive emotions. We need the so-called uncomfortable ones in order to grow as well.
Those 3 emotions can actually help you better your life, even though they have a bad reputation.
You feel guilty after doing something that is not aligned with your values. Or when you do something that is not aligned with the way you see yourself.
The purpose behind this painful emotion is very simple.
Your mind wants to make sure that you are not going to do that again.
Based on that, we should respond to guilt with nothing but improvement. We should fix whatever that has been broken.
We should do our best to convince our minds that we are not going to violate our values again. That we are going to stay consistent with how we see ourselves.
For instance, you will feel guilty when you steal something or lie to those who are close to you. Or when you do a certain bad habit. Or when you hurt someone badly.
In brief, you will feel guilty after you do something that you consider wrong. When you make a mistake.
In case you have not realized it yet, we humans will always be making mistakes. We will do bad things. Not because we’re bad but because we are imperfect humans.
And this is where the emotion of guilt comes into play. This is where we actually need guilt.
Guilt is here to guide us and motivate us to improve. It’s a sign that we are doing something wrong.
It’s just like an alarm that goes on when you take a wrong turn. Without it, you would take that wrong turn and keep going down a wrong path.
As a rule of thumb, guilt should only make you improve and do something to fix the situation. That’s the right response.
If you respond in any different way, you are not responding to guilt.
This is where people go wrong when it comes to handling guilt. This is why guilt has a bad reputation.
It has nothing to do with guilt itself; rather it’s all about the way we interrupt the uncomfortable feelings of guilt.
People either underestimate guilt and ignore it or they overestimate it and take it to another level.
When you ignore guilt and underestimate it, you will keep going down the wrong path and probably end up in very bad places. We might be talking about extreme behaviors and abuse here.
Anyway, you will end up in a bad place because guilt is a message from your brain. And your brain doesn’t like to be ignored. It’ll respond back with more intense feelings. And you’ll probably respond with more neglect. It’s a cycle; a very toxic one.
Second, we have people who overestimate guilt and exaggerate the situation.
There is a fine line between guilt and shame.
One of my favorite writers is Brene Brown and she is kind of a shame researcher. She researches shame, vulnerability, fear, and such dark sides of the human’s emotions.
In one of her books, she says that there is a difference between guilt and shame.
Guilt is, “I’ve done something bad”. Shame is, “I’m bad”.
When you no longer differentiate between doing something bad and being bad, you are practicing shame, not guilt.
While guilt is productive, as Brene describes, shame is totally unproductive and even destructive.
Guilt motivates deeds of improvement and fixing what went wrong. Shame motivates self-pity and stops improvement.
The bottom line is that you have to practice guilt, but never allow it to turn into shame. Guilt is helpful; shame is destructive.
There comes a time when you feel that your life sucks.
You look around and you can see nothing but failure, disappointment, and suffering. You see nothing but procrastination, laziness, and self-pity.
You look at the mirror and you see that you’ve become the person who you don’t want to ever become.
To top it all, you have financial problems and you can’t make ends meet.
When you look back, you remember that you were an ambitious person.
You had dreams and goals. You always wanted a specific type of life. You wanted to earn a specific amount of money. You wanted to be a specific type of person. You wanted good health, mentally and physically.
You wanted to be happy. And you still want to.
But now, you are not even close to where you want to be.
So, you feel disgusted and disappointed. You hate where you are and you feel disgusted about living this way.
You feel this every day. You feel a strong feeling of hatred toward the quality of life that you are living. It sucks and you know it and also you hate it.
That’s a good feeling!
Yes, it’s uncomfortable and doesn’t feel good. But overall, it’s good because it can be used for a good cause.
Pain is one of the strongest driving forces. To avoid pain, or to get out of pain, we will do whatever it takes.
This feeling of disgust can be all you need in order to get up and start fighting for a better life. Getting sick of being down can actually inspire you to climb up.
Just like with the guilt, your mind is telling you that it doesn’t like the situations.
When you get disgusted at the sight of a stinky dead body, you will certainly leave that place as soon as possible.
It’s the same here.
Your mind has reached the conclusion that your current situations are as bad as the sight of that stinky dead body.
And that’s good because it can motivate you to be in a better place. It can motivate you to grow and improve and work hard.
Most people think that they should be dealing with the feeling of disgust itself. I mean they try to feel better and stop the uncomfortable feelings of disgust.
That is like trying to live the rest of your life in a place full of dead stinky bodies. Not only that but also trying to convince your mind that it is OK.
The feelings of disgust, in either case, are here to push you to get yourself out of a situation that is causing you a lot of pain. So, you don’t get rid of them; you use them to push you forward. Disgust is an ultimate source of motivation and energy.
Your mind is giving you pain in order to get up and move to a better place.
Most successful people had horrible experiences that made them get up and wander as ambitious souls in this world that are looking for better situations and better lives.
When I get disgusted, usually mixed up with some guilt as well, I work harder than ever. I get inspired and motivated and charged.
Those feelings of disgust can either make you or break you.
Use it as a motivation and you will get all the energy in the world to get up and do something about your life. Only when you get sick enough will you start changing and improving.
This one is simple and straightforward.
Boredom is uncomfortable. We can do many things to avoid feeling the discomfort of being bored.
However, if you are feeling bored it means that many of good things are happening and/or many good things can happen.
It means one, or all, of the following:
- You have time. Busy people never feel bored because simply they don’t have time. You can use this time in a productive activity, even if it will make you feel more uncomfortable.
- You can get creative. Some studies suggest that you just have to sit with the feelings of boredom and not distract yourself. This way, you might get new creative ideas. And it makes sense, your brain will work hard to get you out of the boredom if you don’t distract yourself using social media or whatever.
In both cases, boredom can be very beneficial.
Boredom can get dangerous when we try to numb it. Actually, any emotion will fire back when we try to numb it.
We numb boredom by distracting ourselves. For instance, we usually social media and smartphones.
And it becomes like a trigger. You feel bored, you distract yourself. By doing that, you will miss a lot of chances to be productive, creative, or just present.
Or we might use destructive means to distract ourselves. Drugs, porn, drinking, or shopping. This way, we’re not only missing the chance to better our lives, but we’re simultaneously ruining our lives.
Resist the temptation to distract yourself and sit down with the uncomfortable feelings of boredom. Curiosity and creativity can lead you to places that you’ve never thought exist.