i continue to sing the praises of the pixar movie, inside out. i have made so many fruitful discoveries since i saw the movie. it has been a powerful and learning process for me since seeing the movie.
for those of you who don’t know, inside out is about the emotions living inside the head of an eleven year old and how those responses color her world. i still shake my head in amazement that a supposed “kids” movie could do such and excellent treatment of emotions and emotional responses.
after the movie, while my friend and i discussed the movie, she made the point that every emotion has a purpose. for example, the purpose of fear is protection from that the scares us, anger’s purpose is to a call for justice or fairness and guilt’s purpose is a call to right a wrong.
yesterday, i did some web searches for, “purpose for <insert emotion here>”. i was amazed at the wealth of information that exist on the purposes of different emotions! one disappointment is the search for the purpose of happiness and joy. Most results get tanglds up with the purpose of life is to experience happiness and/or joy.
i poked around at some different emotions that have played an integral part of my recent life. I searched on “the purpose of despair” and found this article that totally blew my mind on the purpose of emotions. the author, Miriam Greenspan, did and excellent job of explaining the purpose of the dark emotions, how society gets the treatment of these emotions wrong since there is an “emotion-phobia” of the dark emotions, how that effects individuals, and eventually screws up society. Here are a few quotes the struck me.
Emotions like grief, fear and despair are as much a part of the human condition as love, awe and joy,” says psychotherapist Miriam Greenspan. “Each of these emotions is purposeful.
“But it’s not the emotions themselves that are the problem; it’s our inability to bear them mindfully.
Every dark emotion has a value and purpose. There are no negative emotions; there are only negative attitudes towards emotions we don’t like and can’t tolerate, and the negative consequences of denying them. The emotions we call “negative” are energies that get our attention, ask for expression, transmit information and impel action. Grief tells us that we are all interconnected in the web of life, and what connects us also breaks our hearts. Fear alerts us to protect and sustain life. Despair asks us to grieve our losses, to examine and transform the meaning of our lives, to repair our broken souls. Each of these emotions is purposeful and useful-if we know how to listen to them.
The article discusses 3 basic skills when dealing with emotions; attending to, befriending and surrendering to emotions that make us uncomfortable. it also discusses a seven step process of tolerating our dark emotions; 1) intention, 2) affirmation, 3) sensation, 4) contextualization, 5) the way of non-action, 6) the way of action, and 7) the way of surrender.
i have done the development of the ideas a great disservice by delivering only the bullet points. the article does do an excellent jobs of developing these ideas further.
So if you would like to know more about your dark emotions and how to attend, to, befriend and surrender to them, do take the time to read this well-developed article.