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The Negative Rap of Negative Emotion

May 16, 2024
April Price Coaching
The Negative Rap of Negative Emotion

Nobody likes feeling bad, but what can make it even worse is when we think we’re bad for feeling bad.

Even though our emotions are always just information being passed from our brain to our body, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that feelings have a morality—that there are good ways to feel and bad ways to feel. And this can make us suspicious and even ashamed of our negative emotions. 

On today’s podcast, I’m pointing out the negative rap that our negative emotions get and giving you some important things to remember when you feel bad. You’ll learn why you might conflate your negative emotion with wickedness, what your all your emotions really mean and say about you, and how to allow and embrace the experience of feeling…even when you feel bad.


Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thoughts you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome.

Hello podcast universe! Welcome to episode 263 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price and I am your host and your coach for a few minutes today. How are we doing out there? I feel like maybe we should all take a collective, deep, cleansing breath together. Like, I have a client who sometimes comes to our sessions and she's like, I'm coming in hot today. And so before we start, we do kind of like a breathing exercise and check in with their body and do like a scan.

And it can be really, really helpful to just like. Take a moment to breathe and remind our brain that we are safe and that it can clock out for a minute, right? So maybe we should do that. Everybody out there. Let's all take a deep breath in. And then a long, slow breath out. And just for a minute, leave your head and drop into your body. I just noticed for a minute what it feels like to be in your body right now, what it feels like to be a human. Having this physical experience here on Earth. What is it like in your chest? And just notice it. What's it like in your shoulders? Down your spine? What's it like right now in your belly? Just noticing. That you are here, that you are in your body.

Let me take one more breath in. One long breath out. And remember that you can always come back to your body, right? Sometimes when you spend so much time in our heads. And it can be stressful up there, right? Yeah. So how are you? I feel like May can be a really challenging part of the year, right? Kind of comes out of nowhere and it feels like it shouldn't be like may sound so pleasant and innocuous, you know, but it is a time of transition for so many of us. And we're kind of like wrapping up the end of a school year where it feels like, you know, maybe you're just running on fumes. And yet there are so many events and deadlines. Like I always used to say, that May is the 2nd December, right? It's just like craziness. Lots of good stuff, but also like so much work. And it is a time of change and transition for a lot of us as the season start to change. And of course, like we want those changes, we're anticipating the summer months and the warmth and all of that. But like it is a change and that can create anxiety and overwhelm.

And even when there are good things to look forward to, we can sometimes feel a little bit uncertain. I was just talking to my son yesterday who's on his mission. He's just starting his last transfer this week and that is exciting to him and also terrifying, right? So whatever you are feeling, I just want you to know that it makes sense. Right. And however you're feeling is 100% okay. And actually that kind of brings us right into the episode today. This episode is actually inspired by an experience that I had at church a few weeks ago.

I've told you before, my husband and I, we teach in primary. We teach the children who are seven years old turning eight. We have the cutest little class, and we were talking about how God loves everyone, right? And we were talking about the scriptures that say that he loves. All of us bond and free, male and female, black and white. That like he loves all of us the same, right? And that he doesn't prefer any one of us to any other one of us.

And we did this little exercise together where we showed the children pictures of people in all kinds of situations, and we asked them, which one does God love more? Right? Which one does he love the most? And we showed them a boy and a girl and a black child and a white child. A child that was running and a child in a wheelchair, a person in jail and a person at church, a person who was rich and a person who was poor. And in every case, we held up the pictures and asked them, okay, who does God love more? And of course, every time they said he loves them the same, right? And they were like adamant that of course he loves all of his children the same. And the last set of pictures that we showed them was a picture of a child who was smiling, and then the same child was crying and was upset, and we asked the question, who does God love more? And what was so interesting to me is that they, like, kind of hesitated for a minute, right? Like all the other pictures, it was very obvious to them that that God did not prefer one of those people to another.

But like when there was a child who was happy and smiling, and when there was a child who was crying, they all kind of hesitated. And there was like this, like beat of silence, right? And then they said, uh, he loves them the same. And I said, are you sure? You know, like, it sounds like you might not be sure. And one of the little girls looked at us and she's like, well, maybe he likes the one that's smiling just a little bit more, right? Just a little bit more. And I have thought about that experience ever since. And how like our differences, you know, we know that God doesn't love us differently because of our differences. And yet sometimes we do think God loves us differently when we're having different kinds of emotion, right? And how it really can feel like God loves all of us unless we are sad, unless we are angry, unless we are, you know, experiencing some negative emotion that he does not approve of.

Right? And we're sort of all a little bit taught to believe that being happier is better. And it's not only better for you and for the people around you who have to, like, live with you, but it is also preferable to God. And I think that this is like sort of an unconscious belief that we all sort of entertain. Right? So even for me last Sunday, you know, I was having a really challenging day, a lot of negative emotion.

And as I sat at church in the congregation, just feeling bad, right, and wanting healing and wanting comfort from God, I found myself feeling ashamed and sort of telling myself, listen, April, he doesn't want to hear your complaints. He doesn't want to hear how bad you feel. Right? And of course, as I looked around that congregation, there were plenty of people in the congregation who had what I was considering, quote unquote, real reasons to complain and real reasons to feel bad, and and that maybe I didn't, and then maybe mine didn't stack up.

And maybe God was just, like, rolling his eyes at my negative emotion. Right. And that really added to my shame. And as I was sitting there, I realized that, of course, all of this is just a construct in my head that I have ideas deep down inside about what God likes and what he doesn't like. And one of the things that that I believe is like deep down is that he doesn't like negative emotion, right? Like these thoughts that God, how God views negative emotion, were really there in that moment for me, creating my shame.

God wasn't creating it. I was my ideas about him and His view on negative emotion. Right? And I was like telling this story about God creating him in my image, right? Saying like, this is who God is. He he. This is how he sees my negative emotion. And it was just interesting because where did I get those ideas? Where did I get the thought and the idea that this is what is true about God, that he doesn't have patience or understanding for my negative emotion. And I think it's really interesting for all of us to consider that for a minute and to think about what we have been taught or what we've kind of like absorbed through culture about negative emotion.

I've been reading this book recently about the seven deadly sins and how that, you know, treatise or document that was originally written about these like seven deadly sins like that. That's the origin of many of our negative opinions about negative emotion. And we've sort of absorbed a lot of those ideas into our judgment of, of good and bad, of right and wrong. Right. Like jealousy or greed or lust, like all of these negative emotions, like in this original tristesse, like they were considered sins, right? In reality, they're just emotions. But when the when the treatise was first written, like when the document of the Seven Deadly sins was written, it was actually originally eight deadly sins that that were listed. And the eighth one was sadness. And I just thought that was so interesting. Like that, that for a long time we've believed that that sadness, it might be sinful, right, that it might be wrong and that our negative emotions indicate like a wickedness inside of us.
And it's an old thought, right? It's kind of like in the water just been passed down to us. And many of us have the idea that, like, there are good ways to feel and there are bad ways to feel and that our emotions can actually make us bad just for feeling them. And I think that tends to make us suspicious and even ashamed of our negative emotions. We want to dismiss them. We want to change them. We want to like, get as far away as possible from them. And when we're having them, like it only adds to our pain, right? Because not only are we feeling the negative emotion, we're also feeling the shame associated with it.

And I think if we're honest with ourselves for a long time, we have conflated happiness with righteousness. Like we've tied those two ideas together as if they belong together. And we've sort of believed that if we're living right, then we'll be happy, right? That's kind of passed down to us. Like if if you make all the right choices, then you can kind of guarantee a happy life and that living right and making good choices is the only way to be happy. And so then that what that means is that if we're sad, then we must have done something wrong.

And that that, you know, we aren't living the way that we're supposed to. And I've just recently just noticed like how much negative rap, negative emotion gets, right? The other day we were watching home videos and we were at a swim meet for my son, and all my kids were little, and we were kind of just sitting there in the bleachers waiting for my son to do his swims. And, you know, I was filming the kids and I filmed my daughter, and she was grumpy and she didn't want to be there. And I was like, hey, how are you doing? And she's she's like, well, I'm not having any fun, right? And then I said, and this is on camera, right. So we have a record of it. And I said, well, you can smile, right? You can still smile. And there I was like looking at her negative emotion and telling her, you should change that, right? Like, like you don't have to be the way that you are and that, like, smiling would be preferable. And I think like we, we've we teach it to our children.

Not it was taught to me and I teach it to my children that like you should be happy, right? You should. You should turn that frown upside down and you should be happy. And so I'm not trying to condemn any one of us. I just want to bring your awareness to it. I want to bring your awareness to the negative rap of negative emotion. So, I want to start today by just giving you a few reminders about all of your emotions. Remember that your feelings, your emotions are created by your thoughts, right? And those feelings that are created by your thoughts, they are simply a form of information.

Your feelings are the way that your brain translates the world, interprets the world, and then gives that information, that vital information to the rest of your body, right? There is only one part of you that can think and can interpret and can decide whether you're in danger or not, and that is your brain. The rest of your body, right? It doesn't have any thinking ability your arms, your legs, your heart, your spine, like it cannot process information. It cannot interpret what is happening. That is the job of your brain. And once your brain interprets the information that is receiving from the world, it needs to relay that information to the body in order to keep you alive and well.

In order for your body then to act, you need to tell your body what is happening and what to do. And the way that it does that is through your feelings. Now, it means that your feelings are not an indication of your goodness or wickedness. They are just a report from your brain about what is happening, right? They don't indicate your acceptability or your likeability, or whether or not like you're making the right choice in the right moment. They are just the result of a thought. Your brain is processing information, letting your rest of your body know what is happening.

And it's important to take your feelings out of the realm of morality and move them into like, the realm of cause and effect, right? Like I was thinking about kind of like just as an analogy. I had some bloodwork done recently, and when I got that bloodwork back, it was just like an indication of my current hormonal output. Right? Like those results in and of themselves don't make me good or bad. They're just showing me what's happening in my body, what's happening in my bone marrow, what's happening in my ovaries, what's happening in my brain.

Like it's just an output. It's just showing me what is happening inside of me. In no way is it passing judgment on me. It's just saying this is the current output of your ovaries, for example. And in the same way, if I could get a report of my feelings right, and let's say it showed that it was high and overwhelm or high and anger or high and stress, like, again, that is just a report or an indication of what is happening in my head. And it doesn't make me bad as a person.

I also want to remind you that you are never the emotion itself. You are always a being feeling the emotion. Right, like I'm sure you've heard before that like in the Irish language, they never say like I am sad. They say the feeling of sadness is upon me. Like the feeling is on me. And that's what feelings are like. They're like clothes, right? You are never the clothes you are wearing. You're not even the body wearing the clothes, right? You are the being inside the body, wearing the clothes. And it's the same way with your feelings. You aren't the feeling that you are wearing in that moment, and you aren't even the body that's wearing that feeling and experiencing that feeling. You are the being inside the body, wearing the feeling. And so, like when we identify as the feeling, it's like saying like, I am the shirt. It's no, you are just. And you are the being inside a body that is having that feeling. All right. And so we've been sort of taught that certain emotions are bad.

And we start to think that, like we are bad for having them. Right. But I want you to remember that it's just an experience. It's just the experience my body is having in that moment, just like wet or dry or sick or healthy, right? In our human bodies, we experience all kinds of states of being, and none of those condemn us or define us. They are just an indication of our state inside our body at that moment.

And the last thing that I want to remind you of is that all feelings, positive or negative, are always neutral until we have a thought about them. What I mean is all feelings, positive or negative, none of them individually are good or bad, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable. Until we have a thought, until we decide they're good or bad, until we decide that they are acceptable or not. And that just means that no feeling positive or negative are inherently good or bad, right? They only become so when we categorize them, or put a label on them and make a decision about them.

And we say that they are good or bad, that we say that they are helpful or not, or right or wrong or indulgent or justified. So, I just want to point out to you that not only are you having feelings, but you're having feelings about those feelings. You have lots of thoughts about the feelings that you're having, and the thoughts you have about your feelings are determining, like the way that you are experiencing that emotion and the way that you see yourself as you experience those emotions. That means that you get to decide how you're going to label or categorize or judge the feelings that you are having.

We might not be able to change the negative rap that negative emotion gets in the world or or in the church or in society or in our family, but we get to change it within ourselves. We get to decide how we think about all of our emotions, including our negative emotions, and we get to decide how we think about us as we experience them.

Feeling negative emotion is such a universal human experience. Not only did I want to sort of challenge and bring your attention to this sort of negative wrap that our negative emotion gets, but I also wanted to just give you a few things to think about when you're in the middle of it. When you are experiencing negative emotion, that can lower your resistance to it and help you feel a little bit better about your experience. So, the first thing that I want you to think about when you're having an experience with negative emotion, is that you don't need to change it.

Like it can just be there. You can just allow it. You can remember that it is as vital and important to your human experience as your positive emotion. They are equally important to your experience here. And just because we're having a negative emotion and we're kind of like wearing that outfit doesn't necessarily mean that we need to change it. Right. It's not a problem that needs fixing. So yeah, you can change your clothes, right? But you don't have to.

And it's the same with our negative emotion, right? I want you to first notice before you, like, jump to changing it. I want you to notice that your desire to change it is not just because it can feel uncomfortable and feel bad, but it's often because we've been told that we are bad for having the emotion in the first place, right? We're using it as some sort of reflection or evaluation about the kind of person that we are. You know, notice just for a minute how when you're happy, you don't think like, I need to solve this, I need to fix this.

And it's because we don't believe that positive emotion reflects badly on us. And so I want you to just think about the importance of having like, a full, complete human experience. And all of it together is what makes life good. It's what makes this experience whole. You know, my husband and I, we often watch cooking shows like Top Chef. And it always amazes me that like, especially when they're evaluating a dessert, they're like one of the biggest criticism is like, it's too sweet, right? They're like, and I'm like, but it's dessert, right? But they always talk about this balance.

Like, we don't want too sweet, we need a balance. And they have these different elements, right. It needs it needs a salt and it needs some sweet and it needs an acid and it needs, you know, yummy or something like I don't know all the things, but they're always talking about like it needs all of it. In order to be a balanced good dish, in order to be able to enjoy it almost, our first instinct is to change it and to to move through it and get to get past it. And I just want to invite you to just allow it to be there, to make it right. That like this is as important as any other experience I have in my human body. And if I can just insert to go along with that, if we don't have to fix it for us, we also don't have to fix it for others either, like grumpiness or irritation or frustration. Whatever my daughter was feeling in that home video, like that's just as important in our human experience as being cheerful. And she didn't need to change it, and I didn't need to fix it for her. And I think, like, we're really inclined to do that for the people that we love.

We want to change their mind about it. We want to change their mood. We want to change their emotion. And there can be so much less tension if we just allow it to be there. The second thing that I want you to remember when you are experiencing a negative emotion is that feeling is always an experience that we have in our body and not in our brain. Like, as soon as we start to feel bad, we go up to our brain and we judge it and we try to solve it, and we try to work our way out of it, or we're mad at ourselves for having it in the first place. We're just like up in our head about it, like rehearsing it. And I would really invite you to stay in your body. Feeling is a physical experience in your body. You can't solve it up in your head. You need to get into your body and find it in your body. Like find the vibration in your body. Where is it? What does it feel like? Describe it to yourself. Notice where it is and the characteristics of it. What is the texture of it? What is the flavor of it? What is the speed of it? And you just want to like, drop back into your body.

Instinctively, we almost always want to jump to changing it and figuring out like, what am I thinking? What do I need to change? What's going wrong here? And instead, like, I have to remind myself all the time, we can just be here in our body feeling this feeling, experiencing this feeling. What does it feel like inside me when I am feeling this way? Like when we're in a hurry to change it. Like when we're in the biggest hurry, it's because we're trying not to feel it. We're trying not to have the physical experience of it, and we just want to slow that down and drop into the physical experience of it.

It reduces the hurry and reduces the anxiety about it, and we just drop into our body and realize, like we are okay to feel any feeling, any vibration inside of our body. The third thing that I would say is that curiosity and compassion are always going to be more useful than shame and resistance. And I'm not just talking about in order to change it. I'm just talking about in order to experience it. We need curiosity and compassion. I don't want you to add to that negative emotion with shame and resistance and judgment. Like. Of course you are allowed not to like the experience of negative emotion, right? But don't ever let that stop you from liking yourself. Like so many times we're like, I don't like this negative emotion, and I like me for having it. And I just wanted to drop that part of it. Like, you don't have to love negative emotion like it does feel uncomfortable sometimes. It it doesn't always, you know, feel good, of course, physically inside of us.

But curiosity and compassion are going to be much more useful travel companions. As you experience that emotion, then shame and resistance, right? So be careful not to make your negative emotion mean negative things about you. So, I want to give you an analogy that maybe is going to feel like it doesn't relate, but it made sense in my mind. So, I was thinking about, you know, for this marathon training, I have to do these long runs and I really hate them. I like they are not my favorite thing. Right. And maybe I alluded to this to this last week, but I sort of started to feel like this is supposed to get easier. Like if the long runs aren't getting easier, like there is something wrong with me right at some point. Like I should start to enjoy this at some point. It should start to feel easier. At some point like this should go better, right? Otherwise, how am I going to run even longer for the for the marathon? Like like if 18 is hard, how am I going to run 26 right.

And so like my brain kept thinking like the fact that I don't like these long runs and and they're hard for me that like that meant something about my ability to be able to complete the marathon. Right? And then I heard this podcast from an Olympic runner, and she was talking about the long runs, and she was just like, yeah, nobody likes the long runs. She's just like, everybody dreads them. She's just like even those of us that like, run all the time and run for a living and like, you know that this is our gift. Like, we don't like these long runs. And I was just like, oh my gosh. Like, maybe I'm not a bad runner. Maybe I'm a normal runner, right? Like nobody really enjoys this and it's okay. And that really changed my perspective because it was like, oh, the fact that I don't like this doesn't mean that, like, I'm not qualified to do this.

It just means I don't like it, right? And then she went on to say, like, nobody likes it. But it does help you adapt. It changes you, right? There's just stuff that has to happen in that long run that you're going to need for later. You have to change physically and you have to change mentally. And all of that happens on the long run. And so you might not like it, but it is essential for your success. Right. And I just want to relate this to our emotions, first of all, that we don't have to make the fact that we're having negative emotion mean that we're a bad human and that we're doing our life experience wrong, right? Just like I was struggling on the run and I was making that mean I was a bad runner.

It doesn't mean you're a bad human. It just means like, this is hard. This is challenging. It doesn't feel good. And also like, if I could take it a step further, it changes you as you experience that negative emotion. Even though you might not like it, it does change you. It changes you emotionally. It changes you mentally. It's doing work inside of you, and it's the work that you came to do. For those of you that are Christian like, you are here trying to follow and trying to emulate Jesus, to be more like him and to emulate his way of living. And if you look at his life, the reason that we worship him is because no one is better at feeling bad than him. He is an expert at feeling bad, not running from it, not trying to change it, but just being willing to experience and feel it. And really, for so many of us, that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to be like him. And that means that we came to learn how to feel bad, how to feel bad deeply for an extended period of time.

And we need these experiences in our life to adapt us, to change us, to work inside of us and expand our capacity to feel bad. And so again, it's it's what we make that negative emotion mean that that really counts. The fact that the long runs are hard is not a problem unless I make it mean that I'm a bad runner. Your negative emotion isn't a problem unless you make it mean you're a bad person. And when you can think about it as like part of the process, part of the curriculum, part of the work that you came to do, you can make it meaningful rather than like an indictment of you and your ineptitude of being a human.

The last thing that I just want to offer you when you are feeling negative emotion, I just want to offer you the idea that you might be totally wrong about God. I'm just saying, right, that maybe we've just inherited the wrong ideas about him. Recently, I heard a podcast from a guy named Michael Houston, and he was talking about this idea of lament in the scriptures and how in the Psalms, there's three ways to worship God. There is with thanksgiving, there's with praise, and then there's with complaint.

Right. And that all three of these kinds of songs exist in the Psalms, and that they are all valid forms of worship. And I think that's such an insightful thought that in our lament, in our sorrow, in our grief, in our negative emotion, that can also be worship of God, that we don't have to wait till we're in praise and wait to or in thanksgiving to feel like we are worshiping God. That that lament and that pain and that sorrow and sadness and negative emotion can just, can be as much a part of our experience and our relationship with God as any other part, and that he's not waiting for us to, like, clean that part up before we talk to him.

Right. Like that. We're in relationship with him in all of it. And I love the thought that he wants to hear about our suffering too. He's not waiting for us to be presentable, like he doesn't need us to clean it all up. That is our construct, not his. And I think the scriptures reflect that. Right? Like I was thinking about Enoch and like he's there. Like viewing the world with God, and God is crying, God is upset. And Enoch's like, how is it that you're upset? Like, how can you be upset when you know the end and you know that everything's going to be okay? But he is.

He's upset, right? And, you know, like we always laughed at that scripture in in seminary and stuff, the scripture that says, And Jesus wept. And we used to say like, oh, I memorized the scripture because it's three words long. And Jesus wept. Right? And we used to like kind of joke about that. But I think like that is such a profound scripture, those three words. And Jesus wept like, let's remember that, that he experienced negative emotion, right? And that he shrank and he had dread and he feared and he felt very heavy, and he felt all those negative emotions that didn't make him wrong and it didn't make him bad.

And then, in fact, he felt worse than all of us, and he had the capacity to do it. And that's what we're here trying to develop. And I just think we're wrong about the idea that sadness or negative emotion in general is not acceptable to God. I think he feels all of it, and I think he welcomes all of it, and that all of it can be a part of our relationship with him when you're feeling it. Like so many times we're trying to fill it alone or try to feel it in secret or trying to feel it and quiet like I shouldn't be feeling this and like, no, there is a place for all of it.

And there's so much comfort and relief when we allow it to be there and be part of that relationship. So, I want you to remember that you are not alone in it, and you don't have to keep it hidden, especially from God. Okay, my friends, that's what I have for you today. Your negative emotion is not a negative thing and it doesn't reflect negatively on you. Is such an important part of your human experience, and getting good at feeling bad is a skill that will enhance and deepen your experience here, and is the reason that you came. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome. I love you for listening and I'll see you next week.

Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. If you're serious about changing your life, you first have to change your mind. And the best way to do that is through coaching. I work with my clients one on one to help them change their thoughts and their feelings about themselves, their lives, and their challenges so that they can live a life they love. If you'd like to work with me one on one, you can learn more and schedule a free call to try coaching for yourself at


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