Toxic positivity is the belief that people should maintain a positive mindset, no matter how challenging a situation may be. This belief invalidates your authentic emotions and is a form of avoidance.
In this episode, we’re sharing our own experiences and understanding of toxic positivity and we’ll answer the questions:
- What are your thoughts on toxic positivity and the effects it has on silencing negative emotions and experiences?
- What’s been your experience with pushing away negative emotions and how did it affect your mental health?
- How have you learned to embrace all of your emotions and honour them in healthy ways?
- What tips or practices can someone try if they’re just learning to engage with their negative emotions?
By the end of this episode, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how toxic positivity may be showing up in your own life, and what you can do about it.
– Connect with us –
All right, welcome to the gay men going deeper podcast, a podcast series by the gay men’s brotherhood, where we talk about all things, personal development, mental health, and sexuality, your hosts today are Michael DiIorio, Matt Landsiedel and myself Calan Breckon, and collectively we have over 40 years of experience in the personal development world. And if this is your first time listening to us,
then we welcome you. We each have our own coaching practice, but in this podcast, we’re always giving way all of our best stuff. Today, we are talking about toxic positivity, and we’re going to be exploring questions like what’s your thoughts on toxic positivity and the effects it has on silencing negative emotions and experiences. What’s been your experience with pushing away negative emotions and how did it affect your mental health?
How have you learned to embrace all of your emotions and honour them in healthy ways and what tips or practices can someone try? If they’re just learning to engage with their negative emotions, look, continue these discussions on the last Thursday of every month in the gay men going or in the gay men’s brotherhood zoom hangout, where you’ll have the chance to share your own experiences.
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It helps us to continue making content for you and supporting our community. And we thank you in advance. Also the game and going deeper membership doors are open inside. You get access to our brand new building, better relationships course, which has been a huge hit our healing, your shame course. And over 35 other coaching videos, you’ll also have access to the private members,
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that it is our pride event this month in June. So we will be hosting our pride event happening June 18th in Riverdale park from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM. And you can find the event details in the show notes. So before we jump into today’s episode, let’s read a route a review from one of our listeners. This comes from Kyle after accidentally stumbling upon the depression episode that we just released a week or two ago.
He goes, wow, this gave so much breakthrough for me. It’s beyond words. I was driving for my job while listening to YouTube. And this video popped up and started to play. And it brought me so much confirmation and freedom and read me like a book and revealed things I wasn’t even aware of. Thank you for your work new subscriber here.
Oh, well, thank you so much, Kyle, for listing and for watching. I’m so glad you stumbled upon our video and share it with people. If you like it, share it around. So today we are talking about toxic positivity. I was really excited to talk about this talk topic, because I think I saw this quote the other day,
where it was like inspirational quotes on Instagram are just inspiration. They don’t actually do anything. And there’s, you know, this whole idea of toxic positivity and like just being positive and like, no matter what comes up, and it’s kind of a way of silencing things that you don’t really want to talk about, which isn’t good because we need to engage with that part of us.
So toxic positivity is the suppression of real negative emotions, which prevents a person from fully engaging and experiencing the full emotional spectrum of the human experience. The reason this is such a problem is because when we choose to ignore or push away our negative emotions, they don’t just go away. They build up deep inside of us, and it usually ends up leading to real-world physical and mental health conditions.
A person who’s trying to force positivity onto another will with saying things like it’s not that bad, cheer up, get over it, move on, be a man, et cetera is really only doing it because true negative emotion makes them uncomfortable and they don’t know how to handle the situation at hand. A great example of this is in the Disney movie inside out where joy is constantly trying to force sadness out of the way and out of the way,
but then comes to realize that sadness has their own super powers. For me, that understanding came with realizing that sometimes someone doesn’t want you to fix any problem for them or to fix anything about them or to fix anything for them. They just want you to acknowledge them in their sadness and validate their experience. This is where learning true empathy plays a huge role against toxic positivity.
Sometimes all a person needs is for you to see them, maybe sit with them and convey the fact that yes, this sucks. It’s awful. I’ve been there and I understand the sadness and I’m going to be right here with you and support you in. However you need to experience this without trying to fix it. So that’s why I’ve been so excited about talking about today’s topic,
just because there’s so much juiciness inside of it. So the first question we have on the agenda today is what’s your thoughts on toxic positivity and the effects it has on silencing negative emotions and experiences. So I’m going to start off with, I feel mad. I feel after that intro, I feel you’re, you’re like into it. So I’m interested in what you have to say.
Well, first of all, I love that movie. I show it in one of my courses in my authentic relating and empowerment course. And we use it as an example for exactly this. So that’s really cool that you brought that up without even knowing. Yeah, like I, I think in my experience, toxic positivity is not just something that’s relational between two people.
It can be within your relationship that you have to yourself. We can use toxic positivity in ourselves, like just suck it up or get over it. Or, you know, you know, this was, you know, everything has a, as it has a meaning or a purpose behind it, that sort of thing. And I want to just note that it is a form of emotional avoidance and it’s one that I’m quite familiar with and something I have to keep in check because I’ve done a lot of deep inner work.
I’ve, I’ve had a lot of suffering in my life and I’ve learned how to suffer. And I can sometimes, like, for example, with my sister, she just had a stillbirth and it was extremely traumatic for her and my family. And I noticed myself, I didn’t do this with her, but I noticed myself wanting to go to that place of like minimizing,
not really minimizing, but prematurely getting her to see the silver lining. And I think that’s toxic positivity. There’s a prematurity in wanting somebody to feel something because it’s creating what they’re feeling is creating discomfort for you. And, you know, as an empath, I did this quite a bit in my life and in retrospect, because I can feel people and when I feel people hurting it really,
really, I feel it a lot. And I don’t, I don’t like that. And that’s one of the reasons why I do what I do because I want to help people move through suffering. So in my earlier stages of doing this work, I would feel people’s suffering and I would want to, I would want them to bypass the hard parts and just be like,
okay, here’s the silver lining, just see it right. And then you’ll be good. But really the part that they need to move through is the grieving and the anger and all the feelings that they need to in order to get to the place where I perceive that they would benefit from arriving to which again is just a projection of my own discomfort of,
of them not wanting or me not wanting them to be in suffering. So with that being said, what I noticed in myself is like, if the more toxic the positive I was towards myself, the more I was likely to be with other people, because what that means is that means that I have a lack of tolerance to be with my own negative emotions.
So I’m projecting that on to the world, right? And I actually have a, a quote that I have in one of my courses as well. So this is from Dr. Susan David, the author of emotional agility. And she says, toxic positivity is forced false positivity. That may sound a nauseous on the surface, but when you share something difficult with someone and they insist that you turn it into a positive,
what they are really saying is my comfort is more important than your reality. And that really hit home because I think a lot of us are when we’re uncomfortable with our own emotions, we’re tend to be uncomfortable with other people’s emotions. So I find in my journey that the deeper I’ve gone, the more I’ve learned to tolerate being with my own emotions, the more capacity I have to offer that space to other people.
So, and then this, this whole element of, of being with somebody in their emotions is what I call emotion validation. You’re you see somebody that they are having a negative experience, emotional experience, and you choose to be with them in that. And that’s the opposite of toxic positivity in my opinion, and a tip that I have, because at the end of the day,
if somebody is being toxically positive towards us, I think it’s really important that we have to advocate and we have to let them know because sometimes people don’t realize they think they’re being genuine and they’re caring for somebody, but really they’re pulling somebody out of their emotions. So I have a tip that I use whenever I’m relating to somebody. And I know that what I need is connection.
And so I always say, I’m right now, I am seeking connection over correction. Right? Connection overcorrection is really important because we’re when we are going through something hard, we don’t want people to come in and correct. Right. And I think for, I, I experienced this a lot with women in, in coaching is they often say that the men in their lives try and do this to them.
They try and correct, because I think as men, our program is to be solution focused to come in and to just make something better. But what we’re doing is we’re pulling people away from, from their emotional experience. And as we know, our emotional experience is always trying to evolve us and point us in the direction of what we need to be tending to.
So, so take it in your own hands. If somebody is being that way towards you just advocate and say, listen, I’m looking for connection over correction. And that just gives somebody a like a cue, a very direct cue that you’re not looking for it to be fixed. You’re not looking for advice. You’re just looking to be heard and understood and seen in the emotion that you’re experiencing.
So, and then the, the one last thing I’ll say, because a lot of the work that I do in my business is around shadow, shadow work. And a lot of my content is very, very straight up, kind of like let’s work through shadow. Like I don’t sugar coat, a lot of my, my content. And I find that toxic positivity.
It is a form of spiritual bypassing, and it’s pulling people away from the very things they need to actually sit in and be with. So a lot of what I build in my, my work is like pointing people in the direction of being with their truth and their shadows and the parts of them that they’ve been hiding from. But it’s very uncomfortable for a lot of people to have that experience.
So I think people will, will receive it when they’re ready to receive it. Yeah. Yeah. That was amazing. Thank you so much for that. Share so much good stuff in there. I’m excited to hear what you have to say now, Michael, about this. Yeah. You guys will start off so well, I love the inside out reference,
you know, that I would one of my favorite movies and I also actually use that as a, as an assignment with, with clients when we’re dealing with this kind of stuff. And actually this episode goes a very well off the heels on purpose of, of last month’s topic on emotional health. I think it could easily have gone into that month as well.
So I think, you know, with, with what both of you guys said, what I love that quote, by the way, Matt, that you had given us from Susan Davis, is that her name? Susan. David. Yeah. She wasn’t David. Yeah. That’s great. You know, the, at the end of the day, it’s easy it’s of course,
like it’s easy to not want to feel bad. We’re human. We don’t want to feel uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel shame or sad or disappointed. So of course we’re going to reach for anything we can to make that feeling go away. I think there’s nothing wrong with that as, as a desire. I think though, from what we’ve learned,
the only way out is through meaning processing the emotions, not trying to avoid or hide or numb of which toxic positivity is definitely a form of avoiding. So firstly, I want to say is it makes sense why we do it? So if you’re listening to this for like, oh shit, that sounds like me. It’s okay. It’s fine. I think it’s,
it can be a coping strategy, but at the end of the day, there are so many things in the world that I don’t know if you really want to be positive about there’s war there’s disease, rape, murder, injustice, all over the place. These are not necessarily things that I would argue. I want to be happy about it. I don’t want to be happy about these things.
I don’t want to be positive about these things. I want to be angry. I want to be sad. I want to more and I want to grieve. It is part of the full spectrum of being human. And I think talk to positivity happens when we just don’t want to feel the discomfort of the negative and that’s all it is. It’s a coping strategy for not wanting to feel negative.
And you know, the great thing about the work we do on this podcast. I hope for the listeners and viewers, if there’s one thing they’re getting out of these last few episodes is the, the, I don’t want to say benefit of negative emotion, but the benefit of feeling whatever you’re feeling, wherever that is, meeting yourself, where you are,
letting it be part of your experience. And yes, I think there is a lot of truth in the fact that there might be silver lining down the road. There might be benefits in, in a negative situation that we don’t see in the moment. I do believe that to be true, but you it’s that prematurely part, you can’t, you can’t jump through it.
You can’t skip ahead of it. You can’t cut the line. You got to wait and process and cry and grieve and be angry and frustrated. You got to go through it, you have to go through it. And then perhaps perhaps on the other side of it, you will see, okay, I can understand why that situation happened to me, or I can understand why these negatives negative things happen.
And maybe you don’t and that’s okay. So I would say, yeah, that’s, that’s my, that’s my take on toxic positivity is it’s really just all about emotional health and letting yourself process and be with whatever you’re feeling. Well, thanks for that. Michael Love what both of you guys said to this for me, a lot of this plays into, you know,
what we’re taught growing up and like the media of like the media and the world and the family units of like going out, we don’t talk about those things. We don’t talk about that. We don’t talk about those bad things, you know? Oh, such and such happened to such a person. Oh no, no, no. We don’t talk about that.
That’s all like dirty things that we sweep under the rug and that’s perpetuated by media. And it’s, it’s one of these things where it’s just like, oh no, we don’t want to acknowledge these things because then people are going to look at you and judge you based upon those things. And it’s all about this eco outside stuff. I like what Matt said about,
you know, it’s bypassing all the hard parts when you don’t allow yourself to actually experience and go through it. You’re bypassing those hard parts, but those hard parts are going to be the things that lead you to the greatest things that happen. And you know, it is an unfortunate by-product of a lot of the hard things you experienced in life. But for me,
the biggest learning lessons I’ve ever had and the biggest things that I’ve ever gone through have taught me the most about myself. And they’ve been the hard parts. And so when you ignore those things, you don’t get to enjoy that full experience that life has to offer. Another thing I want to say about this is Bernay brown. Does this talk about like the difference between empathy and sympathy?
I think it’s the difference between empathy and somebody I could be completely wrong, but it’s kind of like one of those things where we were talking about, you know, sadness and needing to sit with somebody. And sometimes it’s just about being there. It’s not about fixing the problem, how Matt was talking about. And so sympathy is like you seeing somebody in their sadness and be like,
Ooh, wow, that sucks for you. I’m over here. But I can see that sucks for you over there. You know, you’ll be okay. And then like walking away, that’s toxic positivity to me, that’s like, oh, just cheer up. You’ll be fine. You’ll get over this a champion. And sometimes that’s not what somebody wants to hear.
There is a timeframe when that does come about where it’s like, the shift does start to happen. But when things are in the thick of it, somebody just needs you to see them and validate them. Like I was saying, they just want to validate their feelings. And so the empathy is not waving from far away being like that sex for you.
It’s going up and saying, okay, this sucks sitting down with them and being like, okay, this is really awful. And Bernay brown. Has somebody did this like cartoon addition to this talk that she did. And she explained it how like somebody down in a dark hole and there’s a ladder and then a person pops their head and is like, oh wow,
that sucks. You’re down there. But then the empathetic person actually goes down the ladder and sits with them and it’s like, it’s okay. We can hang out here for awhile whenever you’re ready. Like, you know, we can help, help you get out. And so in regards to toxic positive VT sympathy is not what we’re looking for here. We’re looking to develop empathy cause there’s a real empathy deficiency going on in the world today.
Horizon looking at question number two, we have on the agenda. What’s been your experience with pushing away negative emotions. And how did it affect your mental health? So for this one, I think I’m going to start with Michael. All right. Matt alluded to it earlier when he talked with spiritual bypassing, that’s definitely something that I have done for those of you who don’t know the way,
what spiritual bypassing is. It’s the definition that I found is hiding behind spirituality or spiritual practices as a way to distance yourself from feeling the reality of the world. So yeah, that’s something that has been, you know, very much part of my journey. My spiritual practice, especially towards the beginning is I found that, oh cool, here’s this thing that can absolve me of feeling negative emotions.
But that was an effect, a form of toxic positivity. I’ve come to realize that the spiritual experience includes darkness, quite a bit of it. And there is a lot to learn in that darkness. And it’s not just about all love and light. That’s definitely a wonderful part of it. But my spiritual practice now includes the things that you can only learn in the dark.
There are things called a dark night of the soul, which is the topic I really enjoy put a blog about it and really good. But I think that for me, it, it affected my, well, obviously it affected my spiritual or spiritual journey because I was only getting half the story. I wasn’t really indulging or involving myself in that darkness piece.
I wasn’t allowing myself to go there. I thought, oh, okay. You know, being, not, not having this thing, this tool called spirituality or my structure practice where I could just turn everything into love and light. First of all, wasn’t authentic. Because as I said earlier, there’s a lot of things in the world that I don’t think are supposed to have love and light,
or we’re not supposed to feel love and light about. So I think as well from what I’ve seen is, is when you’re using spirituality in sort of in that sense that I was describing, like using it as a way to avoid, you’re really only halfway there, my friends, that’s what I’ve learned because the juiciest stuff, the best stuff for me anyway,
has been, has been through the darkness. So like anything, you know, the effect. So the, the question, how did it affect your mental health? Like anything, anything I push away, just get stronger. If there’s anything I’ve noticed, it’s, there’s no like that. There’s no point pushing it away because I know what will happen.
I’ve been down this road, it will get stronger. It does not make it go away. Be hiding in the closet, does not make the monster go away. Just makes it grow bigger and bigger. So I remember, you know, coming to a place where you almost, almost felt not scared, but uncomfortable having to acknowledge that I felt bad because I’m like,
oh no, but this, this can’t be right. And I was using, you know, very broken law of attraction techniques that, that aren’t all the way there thinking, oh, if I think if I think a bad thought, I’m going to manifest that bad thought in my life. And that’s not how that works. I think the law of attraction is great,
but there’s much more to it than just the one law I’d like to use the 12 laws. There’s more than just one. I promise you. But anyway, I think that I became scared to have the negative thoughts and that was completely inauthentic to who I was, was my authentic to how I was feeling. It’s I wasn’t even giving myself emotional validation.
And so that’s how it affected me. And it’s not a good feeling eventually. You know, I, I was at the point where, where I am now, where I can feel a negative experience and just process it and let myself go there. Can I myself feel whatever negativity is there. If, if that’s what you want to call it, let myself be angry.
Let myself be feeling shame, let myself be feeling disappointment, frustration. And that is ultimately letting yourself feel the negative things is a positive experience ironically, and then not letting yourself feel the negative things, trying to train them to be positive is in fact a negative experience. So there’s a little bit of a irony there. All right. That’s all I’m going to say on that.
I love that. I love that. Like I’m like sitting him like yeah. A hundred percent. I agree with the irony that like, it’s so true though. Thanks, Michael. What about you, Matt? That’s been my experience pushing away negative emotions. So similar to what Michael said. So spiritual bypassing was a very, very big thing for me.
Like I think even the development of a spiritual ego was what occurred to me. Like that was almost the first step of my spirituality. Like attaching so much to spirituality is a form of ego, right? Spirituality is like a flow. It’s not a, it’s not a, in my opinion, at least it’s not a set of things that you have outside yourself.
Spirituality is very much a thing that you have inside yourself. And so, you know, in my spiritual ego was all about present spiritual. Everybody has to perceive me as spiritual every to has to perceive me as love and light and all of these things. And there was this really strong element of not allowing people to see my shadows. I wanted to hide them because of shame and trauma and all the things.
So I kept myself very hidden and I, people pleased. So I wanted everybody to like me. That was, that was a very, very big part of my spiritual journey. And then she’s, I don’t even know timelines, but let’s say five years ago, I started to do shadow work. I started to get connected to that part of myself.
I started to prioritize authenticity over everything else, which meant I had to stop conforming people, pleasing doing all the things that were keeping me stuck in my spiritual ego. And that was a, that was a big shift for me because I went from the mentality of like positive vibes only. Right. You hear that a lot in the spiritual community. And even in like Facebook groups and everywhere,
it’s all about like, oh, just, you know, be kind and be sweet and like all these things. And it’s like, no life isn’t like that. Sometimes I’m in a bitchy mood and I’m going to share that with the world, you know, so, and I just, I stopped wearing these masks and I just started just being very congruent from my insides,
matching my outsides. And that’s when things really started to shift for me. And I started to connect with the parts of me that I had been rejecting. Because if you look at spiritual bypassing, toxic positivity, it’s, it’s, it’s saying that something about me isn’t acceptable and you have to reject it. And that just reinforces shadows. And I think the,
the biggest thing for me was learning how to feel, because the reason why I was spiritually bypassing is because I didn’t want to feel right. I’m a deep feeler emotion, emotions tend to overwhelm me. And I built my life in a way that I, I, I had minimal interaction with my emotions and I did a lot of intellectualizing of my emotions.
So like, let’s say if I would have a, an emotion that would kind of flood me, take me over. I would, I have an alter and I have had an altar for most of my life. And I would go to my altar and I would hold my certain crystal that was, you know, all about love and light. And I wouldn’t,
I would try and wish my emotions away and, and that it doesn’t work. Right. It’s it, like Michael said, it just keeps it stuck inside you and it’s going to eventually come out at some point. And so now, like it’s almost like the, well, and then the, the mental health impact on that was Almost like seeing myself as I think shame,
shame is the, the end result of that because rejection of self means shame. Something’s wrong with me. I have to hide that. So I just kept myself hidden and I didn’t want, I never wanted people to see the emotional reactions that they could create in me. That was actually one of my biggest things. So when I, when I stopped spiritually bypassing,
the result was, yeah, like a lot of emotional stuff had to come up with the end result was humility. And that’s where I feel like I’m at now because I, in relationships I never, ever would want to admit that somebody could get up to get under my skin ever, not just romantic, but platonic relationships. I was just very stone.
You know, like people would be like, well, like nothing phases you ever, but really I was just bypassing. Right? So coming to a place where I could let people know that they have an impact on me and that I could use that impact to continue to transform myself and become a more humble being. I think that’s been, that’s been an impact on my mental health in a positive way overcoming that has really helped me settle in.
And then now I’m just very much more open to speaking my truth and, and sharing all of me with people. If somebody creates an emotional response or they violate my boundaries or something, I will go directly into the connection and I will communicate that. So I just think that, yeah, like once I stopped bypassing and practicing toxic positivity, there was like an emotional maturity that developed in me that I never had my whole life.
And I feel like now I’m at this place where I’m able to really be with my emotions and be with other’s emotions. And it’s also enhanced me because I was also a bypassing, even when I was counseling. Right. I would say 80% of the time I was doing addiction counseling, I was not online emotionally. So I was intellectually doing therapy with people.
Right. And as soon as my emotional being came online, the results I was able to get from my clients was like 10 fold. Right. Because they were having an emotional response and then I wasn’t able to fully be present in that. Because again, you can only go as deep within your, within another’s emotional self as you can go within yourself.
So I think that it’s made me a way better professional when it comes to counseling and doing empathic healing work. So, yeah. Nice. Well, thanks for those shares guys. Those were, those were both great. My experience with this is big because I used to do this a lot when I was younger. Cause I just bottled up all my emotions.
And so I just, I wouldn’t engage with my anger cause I was so angry from my childhood, from like what happened to like, through my parents’ divorce and through like just all the negative things that I experienced. I was just so angry that I had this fear that like, if I actually let it out, like I’d re I could really hurt somebody.
Cause I’m a big person. Like I’m not, I’m, I’m a six foot three, like I’m a big person. And so like if I were to snap that I would really hurt somebody. And so, and that’s what I thought of as letting the anger out. Cause I’d never been taught. I’d never been modeled how to do it constructively or in a healthy manner.
And so it was like this emotional volcano that would just be building and building and building. And I was, you know, plugging the holes with, oh, just be positive. Just keep being more spiritual, just keep being more positive. Just, you know, keep pretending everything is fine. Don’t let anybody see anything that’s really going on behind the scenes because that’s what we’re taught.
You know, you lock it away, keep it a secret. Don’t let anybody else know about it. Otherwise they can turn around and use it against you or make you look bad or whatever. All the stories we make up inside of our heads. And then I think this probably this past year, maybe these past two years, but this past year I’ve really started engaging with my emotions in a much more healthy way.
And that comes like down to the primal screaming, primal rage that Matt taught me about if like just re like letting it rip into a pillage of screaming, your head off into a pillow, just like guttural age is getting in there and just releasing that anger and frustration because before I wouldn’t let myself feel that I wouldn’t even let myself feel it. I would understand it.
I’d be like, I’m fucking pissed. And then I’d be like locking that down and just putting that away and just like, there’s nothing I can do about that. I’m pissed off at that person. Fine. But then it would simmer under the surface for so much longer. Like I would be pissed for days. And then Renee brown talks about a lot of talks about this a lot.
Like when she’s in that mode, she does a lot of rumination and like thinks of like the plotting against, or like, how can I get back at this person or something, you know, that, those stories that go in the head. And so I know that I’m off track when that starts to happen. And I know that I need to get out this anchor when those things pop up.
Cause I’ve noticed like I barely do that anymore. Whereas I used to do that a lot because I would make a lot of things, other people’s problems and stuff when it was really, it was all inside of myself. But then I would turn around and start beating myself up about it for feeling those feelings. And I think that that’s one of the other things is that we shame ourselves for having the feelings and then we shame ourselves more and we beat ourselves up about it.
And so it’s this whole circle and then toxic positivity on it. It’s like, but no, just be happy, just be positive. It’s going to be amazing. And it’s not, you need to engage with that stuff under the surface. Otherwise it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s just going to build up. So doing things like therapy and working with professionals,
working with this group here that we have, like, it has been life-changing and I feel so many things in my life have been shifting and growing exponentially because I’ve been allowing myself to engage in these kinds of feelings and you know, I’m starting to allow myself to not look perfect and all these other things that I used to really hold on to like the recovering perfectionist in me,
I used to really hold onto it. And now I’m like, well, fuck, like whatever, I’m a human being. Like last week at Dodge ball, it was like playoffs. And so I was really in the energy of it. Cause like I really wanted to win this one game because it meant that we did, like, we weren’t the worst team because we are the worst team right now.
And so I was, but like sometimes when I get into that, like primal mode, my like prefrontal cortex shuts down and I’m in like beast mode and I’m an animal mode. And so when that happens, like a ref made a call, but they weren’t really a ref. They were kind of just off to the side and that distraction that I didn’t get hit,
then they actually hit me another team. Like the other team actually hit me in that exchange. Then I was so angry and frustrated that I had been distracted. And then I got like, it was a whole thing. And so then I took the ball and I threw it against the wall, not like super aggressively, but like, and like it out of frustration,
but that’s like an unsportsmanlike thing to do. And then I didn’t think anything of it. Cause I was still in my animal brain. And then later on it wasn’t until my teammate was like, you almost got taken off the court because of like, that was like unsportsmanlike. And I was like, oh my God. And my spiral brain started going,
like my ego of like, how do people perceive me? Like I’m not that person, everybody knows that about that person. I really enjoy dodgeball. Like, it’s all about the fun for me. Like it was a one-off and then I had to stop myself and I went Callan you’re you’re fucking human being. Anger happens. You were angry in that moment and you honored it instead of,
you know, it wasn’t maybe the best way to honor it, but you honored it and then you let it go. And whereas before I would have sat on that for weeks, months, years, even I would have been like, do people still think about that one time that I threw the ball? And I looked really like, and all of these things come from that toxic positivity of like the perfect look.
Perfect. The world’s amazing. So yeah. So that’s my experience and how it’s definitely affected my mental health onto the next question we have today, which is how have you learned to embrace all of your emotions and honor them in healthy ways. So Matt, how about you start off this one? Hmm. Yeah. I feel like I’m going to be repeating myself from last,
the last episode that we did, but I’ll try and be a little bit more creative. I think one of the biggest things for me is slowing down, right? If your well being somebody who was dissociated was avoidant of emotions for a lot of my life, I was very connected to my mind and my mind and my body are like, well, in my opinion,
everybody’s mind and body are two very different speeds. The body goes very slow. It’s slower. It whispers. And the mind is very loud and it moves fast and it’s impulsive. So I had to slow down first, so I could like connect to my body in stillness. And, and then as I connected to my body and stillness, I was able to meet my sensations and the sensations are kind of like that,
that entrance point to the emotions, right? When we start to notice sensations, that might be like heaviness, it might be tingling. It might be something. And then once we acknowledge that, then we get entrance into the emotion. Right. And we can be without emotion. So I just think that’s probably the biggest thing. And then I said this in the last episode,
but I’ll stand by it again because you know, talking to your emotions is really, really powerful because we have to understand that we’re not our emotions, right? We’re not our thoughts. We’re not our feelings. We’re not, we are, we’re a consciousness that can observe all of it. Right. So knowing that, and when you start to talk to your emotions,
it’s almost like you’re creating a separation. Like you’re a parent to your emotion and your emotion as a child. And you can actually be with that emotion and process it, but not become the emotion. And I think so, I, I said in the last episode, if you haven’t watched it, you can, you know, watch or listen to topics that kind of walk through the whole process of that I use,
but just developing a relationship with your emotions, talking to them, acknowledging their power, asking them what they’re trying to show to you and just get curious, right? Meet your emotions with curiosity. And I just think that it’ll, it’ll lead you to some something real good. And then the last thing I have is breath, work, breath work is very,
very powerful because, you know, if you think about our emotions, they, they come through our nervous system. They live in our nervous system and their energy and, and our nervous system. When we have trauma, we’re not used to being with our nervous system. It can become really overwhelming and we can have a really hard time deescalating or deregulating our,
our nervous system and something about breathwork for me, it’s like, it’s almost like it’s like oxygenating, like just repetitive breath or rhythmic breath. It’s like oxygenating your nervous system and it’s calming your nervous system. So breath breath is, is basically the anchor point for attention. It is the anchor point for emotion, you know, all of these things. So everything in my experience comes back to breath.
And it is one of the very few things that’s constant in life is our breath or the beating of our heart. Like these sorts of natural rhythmic processes that happen. And I think when we can like slow down enough to connect to those things that really operate at the same speed as our body, right? So when we’re not slowed down, we can’t feel the heartbeat.
We can’t connect to our breath. We’re so heavy. So I think that when we’re reminded of that natural process of something that is constant, it might be the entrance point into something really beautiful for you. If you’re, if you’re craving that, if you’re wanting more consistency and co more constant in your life, then connect to things that are natural and organic to your nature,
which is heartbeat, breath, attention, right? Your attention is always constant. You can pull it and do whatever you want with it. Right. Which is your consciousness, your awareness. So, yeah. Nice. I love that. And that, cause you covered a lot of question four as well. Was there anything you wanted to add for like any tips or practices for people who are just learning to navigate there?
I have a few of those. Cool, Cool. Cool. All right. Michael, what about you? Yeah. I was laughing Matt, while you were speaking, because we are so similar. I think it’s that it’s that Gemini Ines and that we have, yeah, definitely. So yeah, a hundred percent. I resonate with what you, what you share there.
Okay. So I guess what I could add to that is, so the question is what have you learned? How, how have you learned to embrace all of your emotions and honor them in healthy ways? Well, there’s the, step-by-step how, again, which, you know, we shared in the, in the last episode, but I would say something that helps me is,
is it just feels good. It just feels better. What I’ve learned is it just feels better to embrace the emotion. I’ve learned that by doing it, it just meeting myself where I am with whatever negative emotion I’m feeling, it feels relieving. It is a relief to feel that way. And so I’m tired of running and hiding from my emotions. I’ve done it for a very,
very long time. So it, it goes against my, my deep core value of authenticity, of being who I am. You know, I promised myself to myself all the time that I can hide from others. Sure. But I will never hide from myself and my feelings. I will always be true to myself or be honest with myself. So mattress disappeared,
but hopefully he’ll come back. I’ll just keep going. I just get going. I’m sure he’s going to Okay. So yeah, I think for me, it’s been letting myself be where I am and it just feels good. It feels good to allow yourself to feel the feelings. If you really think about it, emotions are just feelings. They don’t actually,
they don’t actually hurt you. In fact, I would say that avoiding emotions over time is what actually occurs to you and as physical damage, mental damage to you. So as, as uncomfortable as it is, I think one of the things I’ve learned to embrace is that ultimately it’s better for me in the long run to just feel it. So, you know,
if I’m feeling shame, it’s like Matt said, I invited in, I imagine inside out the movie, you know, I imagine all my little emotions inside my little brain have an, you know, anger, as soon as thing shame’s doing its thing and a sadness doing its thing. And I’m there kind of watching them, witnessing it and, and not necessarily managing it,
but being the one to decide, okay, you know, whatever emotion is there. Okay. Thank you for joining me today. What are you here to tell me? What, what would you like to say? What would you, what is your point here? And then moving through it. And that’s part of the processing that I do is what of like identifying it?
What do I feel? Where is it showing up in my body? What is it here to tell me? And then that’s part of how I would process it. So yeah, at the end of the day, that’s, that’s how I process. How about you calendar? Yeah. So gosh, I’ve learned so much about my emotions and how to embrace them over the past little while it’s been huge.
Like I said, the primal rage has been big therapy was really big because my therapist helped me connect the dots between the physical and the emotional, like I’ve shared up before on a podcast about, you know, over the past couple of years, Matt’s been sharing a lot of how to get into the physical and I’ve always intellectualized it, but it wasn’t until my therapist said this one thing about like,
you know, doing the strong yoga pose and physically, when you feel the thing, get into the pose and get into your writing, I was like, oh. And like, you would think that seems so straightforward. Like, oh, physically get physically into my body when I’m feeling the emotion, but I’d never connected those dots before. And so kind of attaching that and understanding that relationship more of like,
I do need the physical, like I do need to go on my daily walk. I do need to do, you know, go play Dodge ball every Monday. Cause that even though it’s fun and it’s play and it’s frivolous and that’s what the point of it is. Cause we all need play in our life. It also gets out any aggression and anger because like,
yeah, it’s throwing balls at people and I’m just like, ah, you know, so it’s really helped me embrace those emotions and honor them more. And I think a big part of me honoring my emotions is binge dropping the bullshit around perfectionism because that was a huge, huge, huge part of my life is, you know, being that perfectionist because you know,
making up for there’s so many theories out there, but mine is like making up for being gay because we’ve been told we’ve been less than for so long. So if we could just be perfect everywhere else, then you know, I’ll be worthy. I’ll be valid. What I’ll be valid or worthy of. I didn’t know. But dropping a lot of the bullshit around the perfectionism really helped me embrace my emotions and learning how to honor them and continuing to do this work has been kind of like,
you know, all of it, it’s been off that. And I also want to say about, you know, your emotions when you acknowledge your emotions, when you look at them, when you actually give yourself the time to not be like I’m angry, but I’m going to push it away and pretend it’s not there. We all know those passive aggressive assholes who do that.
We all do. And it drives us fucking crazy when they like, Nope, I’m fine. I’m not mad. And they’ll be like that for like a week or two weeks or months. People who hold a grudge. And it’s just like, bitch, if you just acknowledged this shit, it’ll dissipate so much faster because for me I can feel an emotion against whatever,
but then if I acknowledge it and I just let myself go into it, God disappeared. Like it’s like, it never even happened. But if I don’t, it will simmer and I’ll ruminate on it and it’ll get deeper and darker and the shadows will start to grow. And it’s just not a fun experience or good experience for anybody. So just acknowledging the emotions helps to dissipate it.
So that’s what I would say about that. So, all right. Quick, I Got something Collin To what I had said earlier. I forgot to mention this. So I was talking about the movie inside out and imagine them as, as actual little characters in my brain helps me, but it doesn’t mean you need to like them. So you might have these characters in your brain,
these emotions, and I’m not asking you to like them because that in and of itself is another form of toxic positivity. I’m not asking anyone out there to like feeling ashamed or to like feeling fear, but you can still let it in. You could still get to know it. You can still have a relationship with it. You don’t need to like it.
So I think that I want to just create a bit of room there for people to, to have these relationships with their emotions, even the negative ones, especially the negative ones without you having to be like, oh, but I don’t want to like being afraid. That’s that’s not what we’re saying here. That’s just another form of toxic positivity. Okay.
Yeah. That’s what I wanted to add. Thanks. Thanks for that. Basically. That might go. All right. So the final question is what tips or practices can someone try if they’ve, they’re just learning to engage with their negative emotions. So let’s start off with you, Matt. Welcome back. Thanks. I’m not sure what happened there. The universe,
like you need to chill out for a minute. Okay. So what was the question again? So what tips or practices can someone try if they’ve just learned to engage with their negative emotions? Okay. Well I think the first thing that stands out from this question is I would even just like to take the word negative out because we don’t shoe. We catch,
pick and choose which emotions we experience that we either turn them off or we turn them on. That’s it right there. We w we, we can’t, we can’t humanly be selective on the emotions we want to experience. Right. They’ll come in. And then we get to what, where we get to choose as human beings is what we want to,
whether or not we want to dissociate or avoid or not plain and simple. So it’s kind of like a switch, right? So I want to just note that the second part is it’s really important to understand whether or not you are over-regulating right, avoiding or you’re under regulating your emotions, which is that you become flooded and anxious by them. And I have a four step process that I teach in my courses.
And the first thing is is if you, if you are avoiding, you need to track and address the behavioral markers of your avoidance. What are you doing that is causing you to, to avoid your emotions? Then you need to activate the emotion, right? So you need to move towards the emotion, because if you think about it, if you’re,
we all get this initial hit and it hits us, it’s a, it’s an emotional pain. And then we have an automatic thing that we’ve, you know, a suppression or repression mechanism, and we just turn it off. So what we need to do is we need to be, we need to slow down that process and we need to start to become,
like, allow our emotions to start to flow again. Right? So that could look like many different things. It could look like thinking about the thing, getting your act, your emotions activated. It might look like watching YouTube videos to, you know, start to microdose these emotions coming in. But that’s the number one thing. Okay. So if you are an over-regulated regulator,
that’s the first step. And then if you are an under regulator, you can bypass that step because your emotions are already activated. You don’t need to activate them. And then this is where the step two comes in, regardless of whatever. Now your emotion is activated. So if you start with a check-in with your body, so really getting clear about what’s going on in your body,
labeling sensations, if you can label the feeling, and then you want to start to move towards like intensity reduction strategies. So it could look like breathing like three by six. Breathing is really effective for me. So three breaths in three seconds, and then six seconds out, little hole in your mouth and just breathe out really slow because you want to start to activate your parasympathetic nervous system,
which is, you know, slowing down, getting the vagus nerve stimulated. And that will help put you into that state grounding techniques work really great for intensity reduction as well, like self hugging, self massaging, massaging your ears. It could be tapping. There’s so many different strategies. And I think you’ve got to fill your toolbox, right? For what works for you.
Based on the type of learner you are, whether you’re visual, kinesthetic, auditory, what helps you regulate your nervous system and make a little list of things that you can go back to when you are activated and then start to use those. And then once you’ve regulated your intensity to, I always say like a five out of 10 or lower meaning that you’re able to kind of manage,
right? You’re able to be with yourself in conscious brain. Your prefrontal cortex is online. Then you want to start to move towards emotional curiosity. So exploration of your emotion, what did it, what did this motion mean? Where was I experiencing it in my body? What happened that caused this to start to really just lead with curiosity around the emotion.
And then the last thing is to get your needs met, because we know that emotions are purely a compass guiding you in the direction of what needs are going unmet, or that need to go met in your life. And once we attend to those, then the emotion will subside, or at least future instances of this emotion will subside because you can just go directly to the need instead of having to have the whole emotional blowout with it.
So, yeah, that’s kind of, I’ll just read those out quickly again. So tracking address, behavioral markers of avoidance. So activate emotion, check in with your body and regulate the intensity of the emotion, then practice emotional curiosity, and then find ways to get your needs met. That’s the four step process that I teach. So, Yeah. Amazing.
Thanks for that. We’d love that. What about you, Michael? Yeah. Thank you for sharing that, man. I love processes. Yeah. So going back to sort of how I started, where I was saying that it’s perfectly natural, that we want to be happy and positive vibes. This is nothing wrong with that. But you know, we live in a world where the negative bad quote,
unquote things, the darkness, if you want to call it, that will show up. So of course we want to flee it. And that, that, that is a fearful response that in and of itself, instead of wanting to embrace or confront or go through it, this desire to want to flee is a fearful response. So the question that I think you can ask is what are you,
what are you fleeing from? What are you running from exactly the specific, it’s a great general question. What exactly are you running from? What do you not wanting to look at? What’s there, right? It’s at the end of the day, like, like I said, in the last question at the end of the day, it’s just an emotion and the emotion itself does not hurt you,
the avoiding it and the numbing it does. So I think letting yourself reflect on that question could really be helpful. Chances are what you’re going to find is yeah, some kind of negative emotion for me is usually shame and fear. Those are my two favorites, but as you look at that, and as you just be with it, it will significantly aid in your relationship to self,
because that is part of you. It is authentic to who you are for all of us. Not just, not just you, all of us, all of us will feel these emotions at some point, unless you’re a robot and it also significantly develops their emotional maturity. Right. So I would say that’s, that’s a great question to ask is what exactly am I running away from?
And then with respect to the, the negative emotion piece, I think what I shared last on the last episode was that, you know, there’s a beginning and a middle and an end to emotions and just realizing that they’re not permanent, they will come in like a wave take over you and then leave like a wave if you, if you choose to process them and allow them to be there.
Yeah. Well, thanks for that guys. Those were both great. I think I’m going to keep mine short and sweet for me. It’s just, I learning how to ride that wave was looked like making sure my roommate wasn’t home, crawled into bed. Maybe I had a blankie and just kind of allowed myself to engage with the emotion. And you know,
that used to be exposure therapy, kind of like I’d watch videos of like people on the sides of buildings, like really high up just to kind of trigger the fear response to get my emotions flowing to get my energy going, which allowed me to kind of step into that. And, and I knew I was in a safe space, so that really allowed me to feel that and to ride the emotions,
to experience it fully because I was like, okay, my roommate’s gone. I can engage with this. And that’s how I learned to start slowly letting those emotions and feelings come out. I didn’t even need to know what I was processing. I was just like, I’m just going to let this fear and anger and aggression, whatever comes up. Sometimes that turns into primal,
screaming and anger. Sometimes that turns into like releasing some crying. Sometimes I just feel like energy needs to come out and I don’t know where it came from, but it’s there and it’s got to get out. So just doing that, making sure you’re in a safe space, making sure you feel supported whatever way you’re doing it and then go from there.
So if there’s nothing else from y’all, I think we can wrap up today’s episode, which has been absolutely fantastic. Really great conversation. Really loved this. If you’ve also loved this conversation, please give us a thumbs up. If you’re watching this on YouTube, hit that subscribe and hit the bell. We release new episodes every Thursday. And if you’re listening on a podcast platform,
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