Meta-States and Negative emotions: When Bad Emotions Turn Good
Cloudy. Chance of Rainbows!
Watercolor+Ink © Michele Benzamin-Miki
Wouldn’t it be great if negative emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment, and fear, didn’t drain you, confuse you, overwhelm you, or cloud your thinking? Wouldn’t it be great if you learned to use them to bring you more energy, clarity, resourcefulness, even more happiness? Wouldn’t it be great if they became the very best way for you to solve problems and awaken your creativity?
Emotions occur for a reason. They also occur because of a choice you make; or made in the past. Which means that emotions are often based on long-established patterns and habits.
Anger. Fear. Sadness. Go for it!
Think of negative emotions as signals; information you can use to catalyze change; to regain balance, for example; or to trigger deeper degrees of happiness, confidence, joy, equilibrium, excitement.
Think of negative emotions as friends. When an apparently debilitating emotion pays you a visit, what they are doing is reminding you that something is off-balance. Invite them in, ask yourself, “What can I learn here?” Imagine that your friend is bringing you a gift. Ask yourself “How will this .. anger, sadness, disappointment, fear .. serve me?”
This is the beginning of learning to become a true artist of your states of mind and emotions.
When you learn to use your self-reflective capacity in a particular way, you create the space around these strong emotions so that they won’t trigger you. Some spiritual practices use an observational approach to meditation. Yet there is a tendency to simply switch from negative to positive, thereby missing the opportunity to use the momentum behind the negative emotion. Certainly, there are times when we need to switch off and experience calm and peace; but if that’s all we do, we miss huge opportunities for genuine and permanent transformation.
Meta-States. The complete and utter transformation of negative emotions
For a few years I had been caretaking my father who is in the middle stages of dementia. He is living in a Catholic facility where all his needs are attended too. Several years ago, when I visited him there, I felt profound sadness. Once my sadness was so strong that I felt it would be dangerous for me to drive. It was as if I was intoxicated with my sadness! So I went back to the small chapel in the building. I just let the feelings be there. Then I began to use my skills to create Meta-States from the sadness. Using Meta-States begins with the question, ”What is the highest intention of this sadness? What is its greatest purpose?”
The answer I got was, “Get back to the joy!” My natural joy was inside, underneath, and behind the sadness. It was a question of simply taking the time to recognize it. In fact, it was a little more than just recognizing that simple fact. Working with Meta-States is a specific way to change deeply ingrained patterns we sometimes use to limit ourselves with emotions we imagine happen to us. They help us learn that we are doing them, and that with skill we can navigate them to effect a complete transformation.
In simplest terms, when you use a Meta-State, you are moving to a resourceful internal experience from the starting point of a self-limiting experience. Of course, there are specific ways to do this. (which we will cover in a later article).
Meta-States is something that comes out of NLP. Despite much confusion, NLP is actually very simple. It is the ongoing investigation and replication of what works best, for the greatest benefit of all concerned.
If the question is, “How do people who remain unshakably happy maintain their happiness, even in the face of setbacks, disappointments, and even tragedy?” Then the answer is, “By applying the specific Meta-States that those people use. In other words, Meta-States is a strategy, a sequence of inner shifts, that you can learn to use in order to bypass old debilitating emotional downward spirals.
Now when I visit my father, my sadness immediately expands out to joy. It happens so quickly that I hardly recognize it as sadness.
There is a Japanese word that actually translates to ‘happy-sad.’ I learned to appreciate what this word meant from my own experience. Not only did I reap the benefits of transforming my sadness, I have learned to hone my skill in developing Meta-States in just about any situation that comes my way.
Of course, there is the added benefit that when you take responsibility to feel good, others feel good around you. Not only is my old Dad happier to see me, but the staff and the nurses noticeably perk up whenever I show up. They’ve even told me as much.
.. Spread the Joy!
Meta-States is part of our Five Changes NLP Master Certification training, and is also one of the key skills we teach to our clients.
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