I can’t think of anyone I know, me included, who isn’t going through bouts of fear and other difficult emotions the days. This can get pretty intense and draining. And as you may have noticed, the more we try to ignore or avoid our dark emotions, the more they clamor for our attention. They’re just like a group of unruly children!
Once these we’ve accepted these dark emotions and helped them to settle down (which may take a while) we can shift our focus to emotions that provide an antidote to their negative effects.
Seven Antidotes to Fear and Other Dark Emotions
Fear and dark emotions aren’t poisons.They are useful in alerting us to potential threat and harm, or in pointing out that there’s something from our past that needs to be addressed.
But when dark emotions intensify and dominate, as they tend to do if we try to ignore them or push them away, they can have negative effects. We’re unable to do our best thinking, and can suffer emotional and physical harm over time.
After welcoming, accepting and soothing those emotions, we can shift our focus from them to positive emotions. These emotions can move us from of a dark place to one where we feel freed, energized and uplifted.*
The heart-centered members of the Keys to Change Community, recently ”prescribed” seven emotions that can serve as antidotes to the negative impacts of fear and other dark emotions.
Here they are, along with my directions for using their prescription. Enjoy this healing and insightful process!
1. Start by choosing the “antidote” you feel most drawn to today.
2. Holding in mind the word you chose, use the Six A’s of Mindful Writing** below to guide you. You might be writing about things you notice in the external landscape – the sights, sounds, smells or textures in your surroundings. Or your might notice and describe, honestly and deeply your internal landscape — your innermost thoughts and feelings. In fact, you can do both! You’ll be keeping your writing private, so you don’t need to slow yourself down to try to fix spelling or grammar errors, or to make everything flow perfectly. Write a sentence, a paragraph or more for each of the “A’s”. Spend up to 5 minutes (or more if you wish) on each prompt.
- I am aware of _____________________
- I pay attention to__________________
- I accept that _____________________
- I have affection for________________
- I appreciate ______________________
- I affirm that ______________________
3. After you’re done, read what you wrote and reflect on what you notice. Do you notice any themes? What do these themes suggest to you? Did any insights surface? How do you feel now, compared to how you felt before you wrote.
4. Repeat as desired.
*Positive emotions can have negative effects if we’re use them as a way to avoid facing our dark emotions. And unfounded optimism, as one example, can have negative effects. It can lead us to being overly optimistic or even to missing signs of risk or danger.
**From the expressive writing curriculum I facilitate, Transform Your Health: Write to Heal. This evidence-based curriculum, written by John Evans, consists of six progressive forms of writing that promote resilience and well-being. It’s designed to help you move forward from past distressing or traumatic events, by finding meaning in them and by strengthening self-compassion, forgiveness, creativity, and confidence.
Miriam Greenspan (2004) Healing Through Dark Emotions. Boston: Shambhala