There are basically six so called negative emotions out of which all other negatively flavoured emotions are a combination or nuance of. These six emotions are; anger, fear, hurt sadness, guilt and shame.
First I would like to propose that anger, fear, hurt and sadness only become negative emotions if we hold on to them and don't bring them to resolution. I also want to say that these emotions all have a positive function.
Second I would like to propose that guilt and shame are not really emotions at all but are learned standards that we have either adopted or have been pushed upon us.
Anger and Fear are a secondary response which comes out of an instinct all humans have called the fight or flight response. Anger lets us know if someone has crossed one of our boundaries. Fear on the other hand is telling us there is possible danger and we need to leave or proceed with caution.
Hurt has to do with our higher boundaries our right to be respected, loved, etc. which is why people often say, that underneath every anger, there is a hurt. So we feel hurt when someone crosses these higher boundaries.
Sadness has to do with letting go…. letting go of someone who has passed on, letting go of a child leaving home, letting go of a relationship, letting go of a dream, letting go of an old treasure etc.
Anger, fear, hurt and sadness are all felt for the same reasons around the globe. It does not matter what culture or religion you come from if someone crosses your boundaries or if there is danger or if you are letting go of something you will feel these emotions. It goes beyond and above culture, upbringing and religion.
These e~motions or energy in motion – gives you the energy to take action on what is happening in the present. If you do what you need to do and bring it to resolution the emotion dissipates and clears.
The difference with guilt and shame is they do not really have a positive function. They do make us feel bad after the fact. They rarely prevent anyone from doing something. There are many in our jails who feel guilty or shamed by what they did to be in jail and yet it would be unlikely that this would prevent them from doing it again if they were let out.
Guilt and shame are totally dependent on culture- religion- upbringing and the standards that you have been taught as good/bad, right/wrong etc. You may feel guilty or shameful about something your neighbour, your boss, your friend from a different culture or religion feels totally okay about.
In my counselling practice I find that guilt and shame can keep people stuck and often when people feel bad about themselves they do things to punish themselves or stop caring what they do which can lead to many things!
So I am proposing that people give up guilt and shame, and before you can say then what is supposed to stop us from doing bad/wrong behaviours. The thing that has really always prevented people from doing or not doing something is our Values. Our Values are what motivate us and our values are how we re-evaluate what we have done. Guess what and no guilt or shame is needed in that process.
Here is a Quote and a little anecdote out of the Ode Magazine that makes you think…..
"A friend of mine once saw the Dalai Lama speak at a conference. He told me that from the audience several questions arose, and one of the people was asking something about guilt and how to deal with it. Then, to everyone's surprise, this lengthy conversation started between the Dalai Lama and his interpreter. The Dalai Lama just didn't understand the question and kept getting back to his interpreter to clarify. In fact, as it happened, the Dalai Lama was not aware of a concept that we call "guilt!" Isn't that wonderful? Guilt is the emotion that one has done something wrong. But: what if you just don't do something wrong?"
So Ode is proposing "What if we didn't do anything wrong?" I am proposing the same thing, what if everything was just feedback and learning. What if we focused more on have good values and less on feeling bad…?
Work on resolving your emotions and letting go of your guilt and shame for they have no positive function!