The other day, while making creatures out of Play-Do, my three-year-old cousin stated matter of factly, “It is not fun to feel bad.”
How right she is! It is not fun to feel bad…and yet feeling bad has its benefits.
Below are a few perks that come to mind.
Benefit 1: Feeling bad teaches us that something better is possible.
When life is mediocre—not great but also not terrible—we tend to get stuck in ruts of boredom and apathy because there is not enough inspiration to do the work necessary that would help us really come to life and live fully.
When we start feeling really terrible, though, we remember that life wasn’t always so awful and we are more motivated to re-begin creating the amazing existence that is possible. This takes effort, but in the face of seemingly endless misery, a therapy appointment, yoga class, or weekend retreat doesn’t feel so scary or impossible to make happen.
Benefit 2: Feeling bad gives us clues about what we need to be safe, whole, and fully alive.
Like all emotions (i.e. happy, angry) and states of being (i.e. tired, hungry) feeling physically, emotionally, or spiritually “bad” offers us insight into our here-and-now experience of life. It lets us know that we are out of balance and need some specific nurturing if we eventually want to feel better.
It could be that we need:
a delicious meal
quality time with a friend
to exit an unsafe situation
time off from work
to reach out to a helping professional
a breath of fresh air
The moral of the story is that feeling bad reminds us to take a break for self-love in the midst of everyday life.
Benefit 3: Feeling bad helps us create deeper connections with others.
Suffering alone is the worst! Especially when everyone has experienced true suffering at some point along the way.
Since we’ve all been there (however our “there” manifested itself) openly acknowledging our feeling bad experiences mysteriously provides a deep and abiding connection between us in ways that chatting about the weather or shoes never will.
Benefit 4: Feeling bad reminds us humans that we are part of Nature.
Winter is coming. Temperatures are dropping and leaves are falling and folks are donning their long tucked away scarves and hats. And in the midst of this change of seasons conversations are being had concerning the difficulties of winter: how challenging it is when the days are short and the Earth turns cold.
We know that Winter follows Autumn; we know what’s coming. We also know that Spring follows Winter and we remember that after a season of dying, new life will appear and the Earth will once again turn green.
We humans are also Nature and we face our own seasonal cycles of despair and broken heartedness that are followed by surges of new life, renewed zeal and purpose.
Feeling bad reminds us that we aren’t so separate from Earth after all, and we can take comfort because Winter prepares us for Spring, and Spring always shows up.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise