Holding on to Negative Emotions is Like ….

Great Quotations LogoHolding on to negative emotions is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone; you’re the one who gets burned!

This is my own version of a quotation by the Buddha that goes; “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone; you’re the one who gets burned!”  –  I haven’t changed very much, just exchanging the word ‘anger’ for the phrase ‘negative emotions’, but I do believe that this message applies to any and all negative emotions and that this is a valuable distinction to make.

Why do I see this quotation as being a great one?  Well, as with all great quotations it contains a really important message or lesson.  The message in this quotation reminds me of the link between our emotions and our physical body – but let me put this into context for you, first;

As a life-long learner, I believe that we’re all on a journey – a journey of discovery. On this journey, life delivers lessons to us that help shape our life, our skills and our ability to get the very best out of life. On a deeper level, I think that this journey’s also one of enlightenment or, if you prefer the terminology, one of understanding. This part of the journey takes place on a more philosophical level: One that, perhaps, has implications for the evolution of mankind, as a whole.

Holding on to negative emotions is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone; you're the one who gets burned!

Universal Laws

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727)Now, I’m a great believer in natural law: That is, that there are fundamental Laws of the Universe that affect us all, whether we believe in them or not. Laws such as the Law of Attraction and the Law of Cause and Effect which, I’m sure you’ve heard of but that are very philosophical in their nature. Then there’s Sir Isaac Newton’s Law of Gravity and Laws of Motion, which aren’t at all philosophical because we know and understand exactly how they work.

Of course, not very long ago, we didn’t understand the Laws of Gravity or Motion and, in those days, whilst they undoubtedly had an effect on us, they did so irrespective of whether or not we believed in them. When these Laws were first put forward they were just as philosophical in their nature as the Law of Attraction is today, and they were ridiculed by the vast majority – until they were proven, scientifically.

This particular quotation; “Holding on to negative emotions is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone; you’re the one who gets burned!” is, for me, a stark reminder of the Law of Cause and Effect and of something that I’ve learned and observed during my life.

Hannah When She Was Younger

Hannah When She Was Younger

For example, I remember a time when we had family visiting us. My daughter was 6 or 7 years of age at the time (22 on Tuesday) and, unusually, I’d had occasion to reprimand her for some reason or other. In those days, her reaction to being told off was to sulk about it and she made her way up to her bedroom to do so. A little while later, I went upstairs to check on her.

Whilst everyone downstairs was having a great time, Hannah was still sulking with a vengeance. When I walked into her bedroom her arms were crossed, she had a face like a wet weekend, her chin was almost dragging on the floor and she really wasn’t interested in talking to me.

Although it wasn’t the first time I’d recognised what was going on here, I remember that occasion like a slap in the face. It really made an impact on me that day.

You see, the only person being affected by Hannah’s continued sulking – by her holding on to those negative emotions – was her. I did my best to explain this to her and she gradually came around, came downstairs and joined the rest of the family. In no time at all, everything was forgotten. She’d let go of those negative emotions and was having great fun with everyone else.

Louise Hay - You Can Heal Your LifeAround that time I bought a book called ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ by Louise L Hay. Louise told her own story of how she was abused and raped during her childhood and how, later in her life, was diagnosed with incurable cervical cancer. She went on to explain how she made a connection between the cancer and the pent up negative emotions that she was still holding onto from her childhood experiences.

Through a regime of forgiveness, nutrition and a variety of other pro health practices. Not only was she able to let go of these emotions but she claims to have cured her cancer, as well. The book got me thinking.

I started to think about people I knew; friends, family and acquaintances that always seemed to be complaining of one ailment or another – we all know people like that, don’t we? – and I contrasted those with people I knew that were rarely, if ever, ill. Without exception, all of those that suffered with their health had one or more, shall we say, ‘chips’ on their shoulder. These ‘chips’ revolved around negative emotions about something in that had happened in their life and the resultant feelings were always aimed a someone else – someone that they blamed for whatever it was that had happened.

You Can Heal Your LifeI love observing people, to this day, and what I’ve described above I’ve seen happening with a countless number of people, over the years. As a result of my observations, I passionately believe that holding on to negative emotions is totally and utterly self-destructive. And where we continue to hold on to these negative emotions, they not only lead to dis-ease in our demeanour and attitude, over time, they also lead to sickness, disease and ill health in our physical bodies.

Let me just say that it’s incredibly important to experience all emotions. They’re a part of life. However, it’s imperative that we don’t hold on to the negative ones.

The only way that I’ve found that allows me to let go of negative emotions is through a process of forgiveness – forgiving others, as well as, forgiving myself  – and by taking responsibility for the challenges that I face in my life.

Blame vs Responsibility

Now, I want to make a distinction, here, regarding two words that I’ve used that many people interchange as if they mean the same thing. They don’t. Those words are ‘blame’ and ‘responsibility’.

You see, in my observations I’ve noticed that when people hold on to negative emotions and ‘blame’ someone else for their situation they, effectively, delegate responsibility for that situation to the person or people they blame.

Blame and ResponsibilityIt’s a bit like sending someone a ‘memo’ telling them that your challenge is their fault and that they need to sort it out for you. Subconsciously, by blaming someone else, responsibility for the situation has been abdicated and people end up waiting for the other party to resolve things for them. Unfortunately, the person or people they ‘blame’ don’t even read the memo because they don’t see it as their problem and it doesn’t affect them, anyway. Plus, they have enough problems of their own to deal with and they don’t want yours.

‘Responsibility’, then, isn’t about ‘blame’. It’s about recognising the fact that if you don’t take responsibility for your own life, no one else will and nothing will change, no matter how much you complain.

Of course, practising forgiveness isn’t easy. After all, they do say that, “to err is human and to forgive is divine“. But exercising forgiveness is absolutely necessary if you want to let go of any negative emotions, as is taking responsibility for your own life, whatever the situation. Just remember that you care about your life more than anyone else ever will.

The reason I’m so committed to practising forgiveness is because I passionately, passionately believe that there’s a direct relationship between holding on to negative emotions and ill health. Therefore, I passionately, passionately believe that it’s imperative to let go of those emotions.

So, remember, “Holding on to negative emotions is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone; you’re the one who gets burned!”.  Make sure that you do everything you can to let them go and to move on.

Hopefully, this quotation holds a much stronger message for you, now that your perception’s been provoked a little. So, please share it with your friends and pass on the message.  I’d also love to hear your comments and thoughts on the subject in the comments box, below.

Have a great day,

Steve Bimpson


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