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The Positive Energy of “Negative” Emotions

March 29, 2010

As I see it, the goal  isn’t to be high or happy all the time; but to be present all the way. And this means present to whatever is real and true for you right now.  Gabrielle Roth’s  ( definition of ecstasy is to embody 100% what you feel. By this definition, to be sobbing at a funeral is to be in ecstasy.(Strange as this might seem, I know it’s true. A good sob at the passing of a loved one is cathartic, cleansing, deeply self-expressive and healing all at once. And it’s not simply painful; it’s also the release of pain. The difference between the two is profound. Imagine feeling pain like a dam about to burst open, but not being able to. That’s pain that is not ecstatic. That’s pain that will take long to heal and long to transmute into joy.)    

To be able to access and express one’s deepest feelings at any given moment is to be on the road to joy. If that feeling happens to be fear, sadness, hate, envy, the best way out is through. If you repress, resist, or deny these feelings, you extend their life. (“What you push against, you’re stuck to” – W. Erhard).  Let them flow through you, and you let them go through you, and be gone.

I have clients (I don’t like to call them patients) come to me to help them quash a “negative” emotion. That’s when I know my job is the opposite. Because if one part of you kills off another part of you, who wins? Put another way — to be afraid of feelings inside you is to live in fear of yourself. As I tell my clients, Feelings Are Information. You suppress them at your own peril.

And trying to suppress or hold back all these tears, and fears, and rage and sadness – god that takes SO much energy! And speaking for myself, I can’t hold back any longer!

I can’t hold back the tears – for the suffering I see in the world, even in the past few months. And it’s not “over there” anymore. There IS no “over there” there. And no “them” either. I’m sick of this lie! The technological revolution disproves it.  Earthquakes; denial of a homeland; bigotry; ethnic murders; they all happen right here on your iPhone; on my computer screen; in our home!

I can’t hold back my fear – I tremble for our future. I tremble for the earth, just as she, in her own fear or rage, is now trembling and quaking all over.

I can’t hold back my rage, rage at the machinery of greed that has divided and conquered us. I’m mad we live in a world still scared enough and dumb enough to deny that unless we are all taken care of here, none of us are safe. I’m mad at the closed-mindedness that has turned this nation into a bunch of paranoid warring tribes, each as closed-hearted as the other. You know what? We need all of us! Yeah—the reactionaries and right wing extremists too. (Look at all that passion and vitality!) Instead of rejecting them, take a look inside at what you reject in yourself – because we need all of you, too!

And I know anger is the last taboo for new agers and the like. But listen – When Peter Finch in the movie “Network” in the famous scene in which he extols his audience to open up their windows and shout, “I’M MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!” (  and then you saw people doing it – you think there was no joy in that? (Watch the scene! And try it sometime!) Joy means letting go! And the way to let “negative emotions” go is to let them GO! Explode out of you – like with a cathartic exorcism on the dance floor! Like a power you can put to damn good use!

Even hate is just vital energy in need of transformation. And the way to transform it is to first let it form.

And I’m sick and tired. Tired of pretending I’m not who I am, just to live up to someone else’s expectation. Just like gay people who can’t pretend anymore in order to please mom and dad, I can no longer pretend I’m “normal”, because you and I, we’re all dying of normal.

And I can’t hold back the love anymore. Sometimes I just want to tell my clients how much I care about them, and how much I hate to watch them suffer at their own hand; and how much I love them.

I once read a wonderful old spiritual classic from the 1970s called Das Energi ( and in it is a line that goes something like —  To go 99% of the way is to remain crazy. Only to go all the way is to become sane.

And you and I, my brothers and sisters, we are going all the way, because we can’t hold back this wave anymore! The unbearably tender wave of love rising up in all of us, with power and full of portent; the wave that’s coming to carry us all to the other side. Because I dare say I’m not the only one here who’s tired of holding back the wave and holding up the walls – the walls inside us and between us.

So tell us —  What are you holding back? What emotion do you disallow yourself, condemn in yourself, try to rise above or squelch? What urge? What are you pretending to be that you’re not?

What wave inside of you today are you trying to hold back because you’re afraid it will carry you away? All your disgust, all your rage, all your sadness and your fear too – it’s all good!

You and I need to give our all by letting all of us out! Like for instance  — what have you left unsaid today? When have you held back when you wanted to say “I love you”? Or, “You can’t talk to me that way!” Or “That hurts me when you say that”? What has gone unspoken? Like, “I’m scared!”  Or,  “I need a hug!” Or any sentence that begins with the words, I need; I wish; please; I’m sorry?  How many of these words have died a silent death in your throat?

Get it all out –- let it all out, and what’s left is love.

Today’s Joygasm: Here’s an old, forgotten song from the 60s that says it all: Tell It All Brother (




5 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard W. permalink
    March 29, 2010 7:46 pm

    Brilliant! Best one yet! Don’t stop, let it all out!!

  2. March 29, 2010 9:34 pm


  3. Rita Golub permalink
    March 29, 2010 9:40 pm

    Hi Charley,

    I have been enjoying reading your daily posts.

    Thank you for including me on your contact list.



  4. Daniel W. permalink
    March 30, 2010 12:42 am

    This is one of my favorites. Being attached to positive emotions isn’t nearly as healthy as embracing the negative ones. There’s truth in both sides of the spectrum, it all must be assimilated.

  5. March 30, 2010 7:05 pm

    Well said, Charley!
    (now I feel better)

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