I was reminded recently about some thoughts I had in the last couple of years how I found jealousy to be an extremely useful tool in finding my own needs and desires, as well as finding some insecurities I didn't even know I had at the time. I've been thinking a lot on the processes that we have as humans to deal with the world around us and come to the conclusion that we are only using half our emotions to our benefit.
Most biological processes have a reason for the things they do, if evolution is anything to go by. But our position in the world, and the culture that has come with it, is so far outside of the basic needs of 'Survival of the fittest' that what was used to help us survive in a simpler time has now turned into negative inputs that have lost all meaning. We deal with guilt, anxiety, stress, fear, jealousy etc as if they are purely negative things, and have no value. We push them away, or worse still blame other people for how we react to them.
The reminder was from one of my favorite YouTubers and he covers a lot of really good approaches of utilising these negative inputs in positive ways. I highly recommend having a look and supporting the guy. He does great stuff!
I'd like to take these thoughts of using negative feedback for motivation even further and pointing out other ways we could use them.
As noted, I found that jealousy was quite useful, when looked at in the right way, to find what was really going on in my head. One of the biggest challenges with ethical non monogamy is dealing with jealousy directly. Some focus on compersion to help focus the thoughts in a more positive direction, but sometimes that's a little tricky. Sitting with jealousy for a good while I decided to look at it directly, rather than be frustrated or try to shrug it off. One of my favorite questions to ask myself as much as anything else is the why, so down that rabbit hole I went and found some surprising things about myself.
The issue wasn't with my partner in this case, the issue was with myself. I was feeling jealous because I felt I wasn't good enough. From what I can tell many relationships struggle with jealousy, and the person feeling the jealousy will take it out on the partner as if they were the problem. Asking, or even forcing, them to stop whatever action they are doing when the actual problem is within themselves (in many cases).
The first question then is if I actually agreed with that logically. Which oddly enough I didn't. My subconscious has a worse opinion of myself than I do, or did at the time. But if you don't see it, you won't pick it up...and this is the thing. I didn't see this until I started sitting down with my negative and figure out the why. And once you see it, you can act on it.
That said I could have agreed with my subconscious, maybe I felt I wasn't good enough. And that's a much harder battle that starts with support or therapy. But that then starts a different negative loop that we can pull apart and find out the why. Is it parenting, is it friends and family, is it media telling you constant lies about what you should and shouldn't be? Embrace the negative. Sit down with it, as you can, and let it help you be happier by using it as a tool to understand yourself better.
With this in mind we can probably apply it to a lot of other negative emotions. Fear, guilt, shame, stress, anxiety...all of these emotions have a reason to exist. They are trying to tell us something. And finding a way to allow ourselves to sit with it and learn from the lessons they can offer us is a great opportunity for self-improvement.
Now of course it's not fun. Although I do find, when I can look at it in the right way, it's certainly not as bad. There is the physical and emotional response, which is usually pretty uncomfortable, but when you look at it in the right way you can add a small positive aspect to it. And with practice you could even grow this positive aspect to the point of being thankful for these responses for allowing you to understand yourself better. Now I haven't got that far of course, it all takes a lot of time and practice, and a significant amount of patience. But I can probably say that it would be better than it would be if you were just taking on the negative on its own.
So give it a shot next time you get hit with a negative response. Take a deep breath, sit with the negative, and then figure out why you responded like that. Is it your subconscious trying to tell you something? Is there anything you can do to alleviate some of that discomfort now, or even next time the same situation arises?
It could of course be very obvious reasons. Stress from a tight deadline, anxiety about a presentation, you name it. But even so, why does the presentation bring you anxiety? Does the stress help you? Sometimes even the simplest things can be pulled apart that little further in order to better deal with that. And sometimes it can be a case of accepting that you have that emotion and moving forward. If it's not helping you, why hold onto it?
Most of us are not given the tools to understand how we work. Our society is moving so fast, and the resources needed for parents and schools are so thin that it would be nearly impossible for any of us to understand how to best deal with the things we have put in front of us, and within us. But we do our best and having access to using all the tools at our disposal is always a positive thing in my book.