Five Natural Emotions

PEACEThe following article was written by Neale Donald Walsch and gracefully describes & explains the five natural emotions, Grief, Anger, Envy, Fear, and Love. Use these tools daily to attain Mastery. I suspect that you are a Master already and may not realize it, so please take these five to heart and live your life on purpose.

Grief is a natural emotion

I was taught by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross that there are Five Natural Emotions, and that these emotions are our tools — important and vital tools — to be used in the creation of our lives and the experiencing of who we really are at the highest level.

Grief is that part of you which allows you to say goodbye when you don’t want to say goodbye; to express—push out, propel—the sadness within you at the experience of any kind of loss. It could be the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a contact lens.

When you are allowed to express your grief, you get rid of it. Children who are allowed to be sad when they are feeling sad (it would surprise you to know that many children are not given this permission) feel very healthy around sadness when they are adults, and therefore usually move through their adult sadness very quickly.

Children who are told, “There, there, don’t cry,” ( or, worse yet, are asked, “What are you crying about?”, or told, “Don’t be a ‘cry baby’!”) may quite understandably have a hard time crying as adults. After all, they’ve been told all their life not to do that. So they repress their grief. And this is not a good thing to do.

Grief that is continually repressed can become chronic depression, a very unnatural emotion. This is not the same thing has grief. This is grief that has not been expressed, that is being held in. The thing about grief is that we all want to let it go. Yet the irony is that the best way to let go of grief is to express it. That is, to fully have it. And so, you let go of it by having it — which may seem counter-intuitive. Yet it is the best way to bring grief to an end.

If someone close to you is experiencing grief right now, the best gift you can give them is to let them have it. Do not try to “comfort” it away. Allow it to flow. Encourage it. Talk people into it, don’t try to talk them out of it. Speak into their grief (“This must feel awful to you right now.” “I can imagine that you must be devastated by this,” etc.), don’t try to talk all around it (“There, there…it’s going to be all right,” “He wouldn’t want you to feel this sad,” etc.)

I never did understand people who say, “Your husband, if he were here, wouldn’t want you to cry so.” Nonsense. If I die before my wife, I want her to cry. If I’m not worth a couple of good cries, what have we had here? I mean, really…

So don’t try to talk others, or yourself, out of your grief over anything. Have it. Express it fully. And that’s the way to get past it. The only way around is through, as Elisabeth used to say.

Grief, used as a tool, produces growth. We grow through grief. By watching carefully what we most deeply grieve, we come to know ourselves and what our deepest values are, as well as what we want them to be. Grief teaches us to be human, to be compassionate, to be deeply caring. It is a wonderful tool of release as well, allowing us to release negative emotions.

Feel your grief fully when you have it. Don’t try to hide it and don’t seek to sublimate it. And whatever you do, don’t try to shorten its time with you. People who tell you that “you’ve grieved long enough” are trying to make themselves more comfortable, not you. You’ve grieved “long enough” when you stop grieving. And you’ll stop grieving faster the more fully you grieve.

Okay? Got it?

How can Anger build a better life?

Anger is a natural emotion. It is simply a release of energy. It is a “letting go” of a negative charge. It is our way of saying “No, thank you.” It is very okay to be angry, and anyone who tells you that it isn’t does not understand that nature of the human condition—and how healing anger can be.

Anger is also our way of saying, “I don’t agree with that-and I am passionate about my disagreement!” It’s also our way of saying, “Stop it! Cut it out!” It’s also our way of saying, simply, “No!”

Many of us were taught as children that it is not okay to express anger. If we did we were sent to our rooms. That is a pity, because we were then caused to imagine that anger is somehow “bad,” and that we need to avoid it.

Anger is not bad. Anger is good. It is what we do with our anger that may not bring us benefit. And so, the trick is to use our anger as a tool, as a device, with which to get things done.

It is extremely helpful to acquire the skills of anger expression and anger resolution. This is not the same as controlling one’s anger, or so-called “anger management.” The idea is not the “manage” one’s anger, but to express it fully. And to do so in a way that is beneficial to oneself and others.

One way of expressing anger in a way that is beneficial to oneself and others is to tell the truth. Truth telling is powerful, and releases enormous energy if it is about something over which one is feeling anger. Yet this injunction, please: Speak your truth, but soothe your words with peace.

Shouting it out is another way to release anger-but preferably not with or at another person. Shouting in a car is one way to verbally release anger-but only at a stop sign or when the car is not moving. (If you bring up too much anger which you are actually driving, you could lose control of the vehicle.) Get a baseball bat and bang an old tire hanging from a tree (please do not bang the tree). That’s another powerful way to release negative energy.

Whatever you do, don’t hold it in. Anger that is repressed can turn to rage. Rage is not a good thing. It is not beneficial to experience rage. Rage is the eruption of anger, often in an uncontrolled way. The expression of anger in a healthy, non-threatening, non-damaging way cuts us off on the path to rage, because anger is a release of energy before it gets pent up. It takes a great deal of energy to ignite and sustain rage. What you want to do is release your negative energy before it gets to that point.

So anger is a natural emotion . Don’t become angry with yourself for experiencing and expressing anger. Rather, welcome the anger as a tool with which to let go of negative energy, and use it as such.

Envy is a Natural Emotion

Envy is a natural emotion. It is the emotion that makes a five-year-old wish he could reach the doorknob or ride that bike the way his sister can.

Envy is the natural emotion that makes you want to do it again; to try harder; to continue striving until you succeed. It is very healthy to be envious, very natural. It is the part within us that tells us there is more within us, that we can do as good as the next guy, in our own way, with our own best expression, using our own unique talents and abilities.

When children are allowed to express their envy, they bring a very healthy attitude about it to their adult years, and therefore usually move through their envy very quickly, doing something about it (such as learning how to do what they are envious of another for being able to do—or, developing another skill or ability that is more natural to them, and in which they can take pride) and therefore using envy as a springboard to accomplishment.

Virtually everybody who has been a major success in life can tell you of someone they envied when they were younger, who was doing the same or nearly the same thing. These were their role models. These were people they looked up to. That feeling of looking up to someone who is doing or being something that we would like to do or be is called envy.

Parents often misunderstand that natural feeling of envy when they see it in their children. Instead of teaching their children to play off of that energy, making use of it to produce achievement in their own lives, some parents actually tell their children to stop feeling that way; that it “isn’t nice,” that they have plenty to be grateful for and they should be satisfied with that, etc., etc.

Children who are made to feel that envy is not okay, that it is wrong to express it, they shouldn’t even experience it, will have a difficult time appropriately dealing with envy as adults–their own envy of another, or, interestingly, even another’s envy of them.

Envy that is continually repressed becomes jealousy, a very unnatural emotion. People have killed because of jealousy. Wars have started, nations have fallen.

Never, therefore, deny envy…or tell someone else to. Especially a child. Envy is quite natural, quite normal, and enormously useful when understood and managed, when used profitably and expressed as achievement.

Fear is a natural emotion

Fear is a natural emotion. It is built into us at the cellular level. All babies are born with only two fears: the fear of falling, and the fear of loud noises. These two fears are given to us as protections. They are tools, or devices, designed to keep us safe. The purpose of natural fear is to build in a bit of caution. Caution is a tool that helps keep the body alive.

Most fears are learned responses, brought to the child by its environment, taught to the child by its parents. The job of the growing human being is to learn how to translate fear into caution. Children who are made to feel that fear is not okay that it is wrong to express it, and, in fact, that they shouldn’t even experience it will have a difficult time making this translation. Likewise, children who are taught to fear everything, that they should experience it at every turn, will also have a challenging time effectively dealing with their fear as adults.

Fear that is continually repressed becomes panic, a very unnatural emotion. Fear that is over-impressed on a child will transform itself into the very same thing. Thus, as an adult that person may fly into panic mode at the slightest sign of anything unexpected.

Fear is the second most powerful of all the emotions, ranked only behind love. In truth, fear and love are the same thing. All fear is an expression of love – love of life, love of the self and love of others. If we didn’t love life, the self, or others (in other words, if we didn’t care about anyone or anything), we would be afraid of nothing. We would not even be concerned with our own survival.

Likewise, a person can be induced to love something greater than life or others. People can be taught to not fear death, or be concerned with their own survival, by simply teaching them that something greater than anything that physical life has to offer awaits them after death.

This happens, in fact, to seem true to many people much of the time. To them it seems that life in the physical can offer very little that comes close to what life after death offers. Yet this is not because life in the physical is inherently inferior, but rather, because our understanding of life in the physical is often insufficient to allow it to provide us with the joys and rewards of life in the non-physical, or spiritual, realm.

Persons who deeply understand the nature, the purpose, and the process of life in the physical can and do experience every bit as much joy, bliss, and reward when they are in their bodies as they do when they depart their bodies. Therefore, do not depart your body simply in order to experience what you believe will be more joy without it. Conversations with God teaches us that you will simply return to physicality in any event, to re-experience what you came here, joyfully, to experience. The opportunity that your life now offers is to experience it in a different way, complete with deeper understanding and all the rewards and joys of the Hereafter. Or, if you please, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

And one of the things you will more deeply understand, should you step fully into this opportunity, is fear. You will be clear that the late U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt had it exactly right when he famously said, We have nothing to fear but fear itself. You will see that the now well-known acronym for fear False Evidence Appearing Real is also true. And then, you will adopt a second acronym, knowing at last that fear is simply a word for: Feeling Excited And Ready.

Teach children, therefore, not to fear their fear, and not to be afraid of being afraid. Rather, teach them that fear is their friend, inviting them to take just a moment to see what caution advises. And then, to step into the fear and, if caution allows, to explore what lies on the other side of their fear. In other words, what would happen if they did it anyway? Or, as I like to put it in my spiritual renewal workshops, What would happen if what you fear happens? What would happen then?

Ultimately, all fear is the fear of death. And once you are no longer afraid of dying, you are no longer afraid of living. You lose your fear of death not because you don t love anyone or anything, but for exactly the opposite reason. This is the complex nature of life…and death….

For now, know that fear is a natural emotion. Translated with emotional maturity and intelligence, it becomes the caution that tells us to look both ways before crossing the street. Yet fear that does not translate into simple caution can cause us to be paralyzed on the corner, even when no cars are coming. A car, after all, might come. Something, after all, could happen. And so, we will be afraid of our own shadow, scared to venture out into life.

Teach your children, therefore, to invite fear in and then to investigate what is on the other side of it. Teach yourself the same thing. You will both discover that 95% of what you fear never happens and that 95% of the time when it does happen, nothing bad comes of it.

In fact, the master is one who knows that, actually, 100% of the time nothing bad comes of what happens. Life is always conspiring in our favor, and if we wait long enough for the result, we will see the ultimate benefit of everything.

Love is Natural

Love is a Natural Emotion. When it is allowed to be expressed, and received, by a child, normally and naturally, without limitation or condition, inhibition or embarrassment, it does not require anything more. For the joy of love expressed and received in this way is sufficient unto itself. Yet love which has been conditioned, limited, warped by rules and regulations, rituals and restrictions, controlled, manipulated, and withheld, becomes unnatural.

Children who are made to feel that their natural love is not okay–that it is wrong to express it, and that, in fact, they shouldn’t even experience it–will have a difficult time appropriately dealing with love as adults.

Love that is continually repressed becomes possessiveness, a very unnatural emotion. People have killed because of possessiveness. Wars have started, nations have fallen.

People love to be in love. Yet “love” is a big word. It is the biggest word in the language. Any language.

What is love, really? Conversations with God has a lot to say on this subject. Among other things, it says that love is a decision, not a reaction. That may be one of the most important things anyone could ever say on the subject. True love is never the result of how another person looks, behaves, or interacts with us. It is a choice to be loving no matter how that other looks, behaves or interacts with us.

This does not mean that true love requires us to stay in a relationship that is abusive. Do not confuse the words “love” and “relationship.” We are not proving that we love someone by staying in a relationship. Indeed, there are instances when we may be proving we love them by leaving. So it is not true that love demands that we accept abuse from the one that we love.

If a person is abusive to us, it is abusive to that person to allow their abuse to continue. For if we allow their abuse to continue, what do we teach them? Yet if we make it clear that the abuse in unacceptable, what then have they learned?

Of course, it is true that no one can ever really “get out” of a relationship. We are always in relationship with each other, and the only thing that changes is the form the relationship takes. You cannot end a relationship, you can only change it. So do not think in terms of ending your relationship, think in terms of changing it. You may wish to change its form, or you may wish to hold onto the form, but change its characteristics within that form.

Choosing to love someone — truly love them — is a very high act. It is the mark of a Master. Loving someone as a “reaction” is a somewhat less elevated experience. It is the mark of a student. The danger of loving someone as a reaction is that the one we love may change. In fact, it is a certainty that they will. They may gain weight, or lose it. They may alter their personality. They may change their ideas about something important to us. And if we are in love with what others bring to us in relationship, we could be headed for enormous disappointment.

So we come to the second big truth about all this: love is not about what the other brings to you, it is about what you bring to the other. Indeed, the purpose of all love relationships is to provide us with an opportunity to decide and to declare, to be and to express, to become and to fulfill, Who We Really Are.

This is perhaps another way of restating the first truth, because Who We Really Are is a choice, not a response. It is a decision, not a reaction – although it is true that most people think it is the other way around.

When I talk to young people about love, I tell them that there are two questions having to do with life and relationship that everyone would benefit from asking.

1. Where am I going?

2. Who is going with me?

It is important to ask these in the right order. Many people switch them around — and suffer for it the rest of their lives. First they ask, who is going with me in my life? Then they ask, where am I going? Often, the choice of destination is conditioned and compromised by the choice of companion. This can make for a very rough journey.

I remember how at one of our spiritual renewal retreats one young woman in her twenties asked sadly, “What does it feel like to be in love?” I told her I could not answer for anyone else, but I know what it feels like to me. It feels like there is only one of us in the room.

When I am with my beloved other, Em, it feels as if there is no place where “I” end and “she” begins. When I look into Em’s eyes, it is like looking into my own. When I sense that Em is sad, it is as if the sadness pierces my own heart. When she smiles, the heart of me smiles with her — as her. I wish I could feel this way about everyone. That is what I am working toward. I am feeling it with more and more people very day.

A Course in Miracles says, “No special relationships.” In other words, no one person should be more special to us than another. That is how God experiences love. There is no condition, and no one is more special than another.

It is difficult for most people to understand that. How can God love us all equally, the “good” and the “bad” alike? It is because God does not see any of us as “good” or “bad.” We are all perfect in God’s eyes, no matter how we are behaving. Human beings have a long way to go before they can claim that. Most of us place condition after condition on our love, and we are very fast to withdraw it when those conditions are not met.

So the third great truth about love is that it knows no conditions. There is no such thing as “I love you IF…” in God’s world.

The fourth great truth about love is that it knows no limitations. Love is freedom, experienced; total and absolute freedom, and so one who loves another never seeks to restrict or limit that other in any way. This is a tough one for many people. For many, love translates, roughly, into “ownership.” Not that this is ever expressed, of course. It is simply felt. It is a felt sense of “you’re mine.” Of course, in true love nothing could be further from the truth. And in true love, such ideas or thoughts are never part of the paradigm. No one owns anyone, and no one acts as if they do.

This has major implications, as one might imagine. So now I am going to list the fifth, and perhaps the most “controversial,” truth about love that I know.

Love never says no. Not to persons of equal maturity and intelligence. (We are not talking about children here. Let’s limit this discussion to adults.)

No matter what the request of the beloved, love says yes. This does not mean that personal opinions are not expressed, nor personal preferences announced. But, in the end, a request from the beloved is never denied.

Again, that is difficult for many people to grapple with. Yet this is the way that God loves. I am fond of saying in my lectures and retreats that God has only one word in Her vocabulary. God always says yes. No matter what you want, no matter what you choose, He never says no.

This idea can be reduced to two-words: God allows.

Since Conversations with God teaches that the words “God” and “love” are interchangeable, you could then say, “love allows.”

In the end, that is what love does. Love allows. It never restricts, it never limits, it never stops, it only allows. In true love relationships, you get to have what you want.

The sixth truth about love is that it always renews itself. It never runs out.

As a regular ritual in our marriage, Em and I exchange our wedding vows every year on our anniversary. We have a whole wedding ceremony, with a minister, invited guests, the dinner and cake…the whole nine yards. Now some of our married friends have told us that they love this idea and that they are now doing it on their anniversary! ;o)

It’s so rewarding when we see something like that happen! It’s as if Love Itself has multiplied Itself, with us as the instrument. And you, too, can be, equally, an instrument of Love’s Multiplication. With every thought you think, with every word you speak, with every action you take.

Love is a natural emotion. When we are allowed to express it fully in every day in every way, we come alive, through the direct experience of Who We Really Are.

Article by Neale Donald Walsch