Many of our negative feelings are the result of beliefs that we’re unconscious of, that is, beliefs that we arn’t aware we’re holding or possibly even thinking. When that’s the case, we just feel bad, and we don’t know why.

Inquiring into, or examining, these feelings by allowing them to be there but not acting on them can lead to uncovering the limiting beliefs that underlie the feelings. That takes a certain commitment to working with one’s feelings and to freedom from the suffering and limitation those feelings may be causing.

Something that’s a little easier to do than this and possibly an easier place to start in freeing ourselves from negativity is to simply notice how the thoughts that you’re aware of make you feel. A good question to ask is: “Does this thought make me feel relaxed, loving, and at peace with life or the opposite? Does it allow me to drop into Essence or does it keep me ensnared in the egoic state of consciousness?”

We often actually choose to dwell on and get more involved in thoughts that make us feel contracted and ill at ease in life, as if doing so has some benefit to us, while all this really does is magnify and sustain an unpleasant feeling and reinforce the mistaken belief, judgment, or fear that gave rise to that feeling. It’s important to examine the effect your thoughts have on you and on your relationships and not just accept them because they’re your thoughts.

Do negative thoughts and feelings, such as resentment, hatred, anger, jealousy, fear, worry, or blame serve you? Do they serve life? Negative feelings not only feel bad, but they often lead us to act in ways that create more negativity, more bad feelings, for others. Does acting out or even expressing such feelings serve you, serve others, or serve life? The result usually only adds to our collective pain as human beings.

Negative feelings are valuable only as signposts that point to a mistaken belief or misunderstanding we’re holding. We can ask ourselves: “What did I just tell myself that caused me to feel this way?” Negative emotions are red flags that show us we’re out of alignment with the whole truth and aligned, instead, with the ego’s (idea of) truth. The ego’s perspective is generally self-centered, self-serving, and narrow, leaving out a bigger, truer perspective. The ego’s perspective often makes us feel bad if we agree with it.

Believing the thoughts that come from the egoic self (the complaining, judgmental, dissatisfied voice in our head) leads to unhappiness, and that unhappiness is unnecessary (we only have to stop believing those thoughts). When we’re aligned with a more complete perspective, with Essence’s perspective, on the other hand, we feel at peace and in love with life, which is how we would all like to feel.

Wanting to feel good in this way is not a selfish act; feeling good is a benefit to not only ourselves but others, because when we feel happy, we are kind to others and we act more effectively and more authentically (more spontaneously from Essence) than when we are unhappy. Happiness is not only our birthright, but our natural state, and a state that allows others we touch to flourish as well.

We can become adept at managing our emotional state by becoming more aware of the thoughts that run through our mind and how these thoughts are affecting us. Some thoughts are neutral, some are practical, but many are judgments, fears, desires, stories, beliefs, and other ideas that are just part of our conditioning or that are the ego’s perceptions and don’t have any real value for life as it is arising in a particular moment. All they do is make us feel bad about ourselves, others, or life in general.

When you begin to examine your thoughts and notice how many of them cause you to feel contracted, fearful, and separate from or opposed to others, you can begin to free yourself from the negativity they can cause within yourself and in your life. You don’t have to be a victim to your thoughts. Once you realize that thoughts that lead to negative feelings come from the ego and have no value, you can choose to not get further involved in them, to not add more fuel to them or speak them.

This isn’t always easy to do, but it does get easier the more you practice it. Isn’t it great that we have the ability to free ourselves from negative emotions? This is our spiritual work.

~ by Gina Lake. Notice How Your Thoughts Make You Feel