Fear, Anger, and Sadness

In this “Facebook World” where people show their edited and filtered lives… it is easy to think that everyone else has it all figured out and that we alone are messed up when we feel sad/bad/mad/afraid. But we aren’t. Life can be stressful. “Bad” things happen.  (BOX – An excerpt from Unpuzzling Spirituality on “Why do ‘bad’ things happen.) People exit our lives and that can be sad. Change can bring fearful thoughts. Opportunity can bring fear. Life can be a lot to deal with at times.

Feeling sad/bad/mad/afraid is a natural human experience. And we ALL do feel it at different times. You can be a Hollywood star, a saint, or unemployed – all will go through ups and downs. We may dismiss the Hollywood’s star’s problem as “not a problems”… but they are – to them. And, who are we to judge?

Each person is on a different path. Each person is faced with obstacles and challenges that challenge THEM. If we look at obstacles and challenges on a “soul level” each is perhaps uniquely created for that individual. Each is bringing a new understanding and growth. (If you are that Hollywood star that is facing issues – don’t minimize them. They are yours to learn from.)

For most of us, changing and growing as individuals is not something that happens UNTIL we have a challenge and/or obstacles come into our lives that forces to evolve… perhaps “someone” knew that and that is why the challenge came into our lives…

So, perhaps we need to change the way we look at challenges and obstacles to regain some inner peace

Maybe those obstacles and challenges are really here to HELP us?

I keep hearing the phrase in my mind, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” So, is the “challenge” really the “teacher”? Or, maybe the challenge “the opportunity to learn, and the teacher will appear too to help you through it”? Either way, it kind seems like it is here to help us grow and evolve.

With this phrase, I am also hearing another: “You are not given more than you can handle.”

I like these quotes from Mike Dooley/Notes from the Universe (www.tut.com):

Think of the one area of life that brings you the most discomfort, and know that’s where you’re ripe for growth.


The reason you sometimes find life hard, people difficult, or circumstances challenging, is because in each of those areas you signed up for the advanced course.

Magna cum laude, baby –

   The Universe


Try out the belief – that challenges are here to help us grow and present themselves when we are ready for them and can handle them.

As far as sadness goes…

Check out this video on Melancholy:

From: Courtney Stephens – TED-Ed
A Brief History of Melancholy

Key points to think about:

“In its simplest terms, sadness is often thought about as the natural reaction to a difficult situation… when a friend says, ‘I’m sad,’ you often respond by asking, ‘what happened?’ “

“In talking about the value of sadness, you’ll find a strong argument that sadness is not only an inevitable part of life but an essential one. If you’ve never felt melancholy, you’ve missed out on part of what it means to be human.”

“Many thinkers contend that melancholy is necessary in gaining wisdom… romantic poets believed melancholy allows us to more deeply understand other profound emotions, like beauty and joy…”

“On a more basic, tangible, evolutionary level… crying and feeling withdrawn is what originally helped our ancestors secure social bonds and helped them to get the support they needed… it could immediately bring people closer… this helped both the person and the larger community to thrive.”

Try out the belief – that sadness comes and goes so that we can learn, appreciate times of joy, and more fully bond with those around us.

Now depression is more extreme than melancholy and we recommend you seek profession help if you are dealing with depression. But, to dip our toes in the water a bit…

In “Escape the Matrix of Depression”  Nanice Ellis says: 

“Depression is a result of negative thinking, hiding, our real selves and not living the way we really want to live. Most depression is really a ‘depression of the self’.”

(FYI, this is one of many profound thoughts Nanice has on depression.)

We would whole heartedly agree that you should be and express your real self to be truly happy. In Unpuzzling Spirituality, we say…

Because you are also part of the grandness of the universe, be assured that you are wanted and needed to make the universe complete. You were not created by mistake. ∞ wanted someone with your specific combination of body, mind, and soul to interact with the world and use your specific gifts, thoughts, and experiences to help the world flourish and evolve.

You are wanted.

You are needed.

You are loved by ∞.

You, in your unique authentic wonderful self, help the universe be complete.

This makes us all equally special!


Try out the belief – that you playing your life small helps no one. You being YOU helps all. To find true happiness you must be the best you you can be!

When talking about feeling mad/bad/sad/afraid we also need to consider that…

We are not our thoughts and emotions

Negative emotions may show us that there is something that needs our attention and that growth may be needed, but our emotions and thoughts are not US. It is said, instead, we are the “witnesser of our thoughts and emotions.”

Check out this article on why we are not our thoughts:

There are quite a few nice points in the article, but here is the point I’d like to focus on right now::

“Thoughts are influenced by our: beliefs, the past, moods, nutrition, illness and level of consciousness. By changing these where possible, we shift the intensity of future thoughts…

To overcome the weight of negative thinking, pay attention to your thoughts by being mindful of your mental landscape and intercept them before they wreak havoc.”

We can allow thoughts and emotions to grab hold of us and pull us down the rabbit/habit hole, or we can simply acknowledge they came up and let them pass.

Here is another interesting take on emotions…

From: By Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD TED-Talks
You aren’t at the mercy of your emotions – your brain creates them

Key points to think about:

“Emotions which seem to happen to you are actually made by you. You are not at the mercy of mythical emotion circuits… you have more control over your emotions than you think you do…you can cultivate this emotional intelligence yourself and use it in your everyday life…

your mind is searching for an explanation for those sensations in your body that you [may be] experiencing as wretchedness… [your brain does this] so you know what to do about those sensations. But those sensations might not be an indication that anything is wrong with your life. They might have a physical cause… The next time you feel intense distress, ask yourself: Could this have a purely physical cause? Is it possible that you can transform emotional suffering into just mere physical discomfort?

…you have more control over your emotions than you might imagine, and you have the capacity to turn down the dial on emotional suffering and its consequences on your life by learning how to construct your experiences differently…. This is empowering…

but more control also means more responsibility…. If you are not at the mercy of mythical emotional circuits in your brain, which trigger automatically, then who is responsible when you behave badly? You are. Not because you are culpable for your emotions, but because the actions and the experiences that you make today become your brain’s predictions for tomorrow. Sometimes we are responsible for something not because we are to blame, but because we’re the only ones who can change it…”

Let’s say that last line again, “We are the only ones who can change it.” If you are feeling mad/sad/bad/afraid – you are the only one who can change it! This brings the power back to YOU. You are not a hopeless victim dealing with an outside situation.

Try out the belief – that you are a powerful person, who can control their feelings, and calmly respond to whatever you are facing.

These thoughts become especially true if you are trying to make changes in your life, because change often brings an un-ease/anxiety/excited/butterflies in the stomach kind of feeling that can often scare us back into sameness. But creating change in your life will involve moving through and past those feelings to create the kind of life you want.

If you are trying to make a change in your life, I highly recommend “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Here is a good quote for you:

“The quantum model of reality tells us that to change our lives, we must fundamentally change the ways we think, act, and feel. We must change our state of being. Because how we think, feel, and behave is, in essence, our personality, it is our personality that creates our personal reality. So to create a new personal reality, a new life, we must create a new personality; we must become someone else. To change, then, is to ‘be’ greater than our present circumstances, greater than our environment.”

We need to move beyond the feeling we are currently having to no longer have the negative feeling.

Try out the belief – that you are capable of thinking at a level greater than you initially feel. You are capable of changing.


You don’t need to ignore negative feelings.

Acknowledge, “oh, I am having a feeling.” Dial down the suffering. Accept that it is happening. Then, look at what is triggering you and what you can do about it.

You can use negative feelings as cues to questions where your thoughts are focused and where they should be focused instead.

Ask your feelings, “what is your motivation? What are you trying to tell me? Are you trying to warn me to take action? To guide my path? Or maybe, to simply change my thoughts/behavior? Are you just telling me I am excited? Are you telling me I am facing a challenge and CAN handle it? Or, are you telling me my blood sugar is low and I need some food? Or, I am super tired and need a nap? Or, my hormones are running the ship right now and I don’t need to go down that rabit/habit hole?” Once you know what your feelings are trying to communicate, you can then you can more objectively look at them. You can actively work to get back to a more positive and peaceful place.

No matter what, we do not need to REACT at the same “level” we are being triggered at – we can calm ourselves and choose loving actions instead.

Look for ways you can increase your loving response. Look for ways you can gain deeper understanding.

Try out the belief – that no matter what is triggering you, you can calm yourself and…

Chose your response wisely

In Unpuzzling Spirituality we talk about how all actions can be broken down into acts of love or acts of fear. When we choose acts of love, we are much more likely to end up with a happier life.

But when we quickly react to any situation, we are much more likely to choose a fearful action instead. Here is where things can get confusing – because fear can both help and hurt us.

Sometimes the cause of the fear is a legitimate danger issue that tells you that you are in harms way (we call this Danger Fear). This type of fear encourages us to quickly choose “fight or flight” actions and helps to keep us safe. When you are acting in response to a danger fear, you are ultimately acting in a loving way towards yourself by protecting yourself, others, or possibly the environment from a real danger.

But fearful feelings can also be present when there is no actual physical or immediate harm to be found. It is a fear that comes from inside of you (what we call Imagined Fear). It is a fear that you cannot reach out and touch.

This fear can be based on a false belief or from a reminder of a hurtful experience in the past. Imagined fears might include: the fear of embarrassment, heartbreak, disappointment, something unknown, a stereotype, a feeling of being unworthy or alone, or feeling that everything is against you.

Reacting with a fearful response to an imagined fear could hurt you more than help you.

Because an imagined fear and a safety fear might feel the same to the body, the fight or flight response might be an automatic reaction to both. Fight or flight might help with a danger fear, but it is not a helpful or lasting solution for an imagined fear.

(FYI, we go into this topic in much more detail in the book.)

Although the thoughts on this site are all a reflection of “Unpuzzling Spirituality: An Introduction to Spiritual Thoughts to Create a Big, Happy, Peaceful, and Loving Life (Ages 9 and up),” the copy below is cut and paste from our book, with slight alterations so it makes sense outside of the entire body of work.

The Belief behind Imagined Fears

When you react to an imagined fear with fight or flight actions, these are what we call ACTS OF FEAR. They tend to harm you more than help you. So what is the belief behind an imagined fear?

Imagined fears tend to be based on the beliefs that:

– you need approval from others to be worthy of love
This is false, you are wanted and needed in this world – ∞ always loves you.

 you are in this world alone and need to fend for yourself 
This is false, we are all in this world together, and you can ask for help.

– you need to be in control to feel good – in control of  the now, the future, and the past 
This is false. You cannot control what has happened in the past. You cannot control your future. You cannot even control the now… but you can control how you RESPOND to the now, how you can prepare for the future in this present moment, and you can forgive the past in the now.

Ask yourself, can you touch the fear? You can’t touch the feeling of being unworthy of love. You can’t touch feeling alone. You can’t touch feeling out of control or needing control. You can’t touch these fears, because they are like mirages – they are not physically real.

But the trick to imagined fear is to know that you do NOT have to react with a flight or flight response. You can act in loving ways instead.

Use your feelings as cues

Sometimes imagined fear disguises itself. Fear is underlying in feeling: angry, jealous, frustration, sadness, shame/guilt, offended, grief, doubt, lonely, rejected, embarrassed, overwhelmed, uncertain, unimportant, and worthless. These feelings often trigger our flight or fight response, causing us to try to grab on to some junky energy.

If you are feeling any of these feelings. Take a S.E.C. before you react:

STOP STOP. Calm your mind. Observe, understand, and accept what is really happening.

EXPLORE   EXPLORE. Ask, “Can I touch this fear, or is it imagined?” If it is imagined, ask “What are options that are positive and loving rather than ones that will fill me with negative junky energy? What can I do to create win-win solution?”

Keep in mind: fight or flight actions that fill you up with junky energy tend to create win-lose or lose-lose results.

CHOOSE   CHOOSE a compassionate action to take based on the inner guidance you received.   

(Again FYI, we go into this idea of taking a “SEC” in much more detail in the book.)

Fear, anger, and sadness do not need to run your life.

You always have a choice. You can quickly react to life when you are triggered, or you can center yourself and choose loving responds instead.

Both your thoughts and your actions have the ability to change the experiences of yourself and others. So, choose wisely.

Choose to live your life with a big heart!

I know… easier said than done, but with enough practice and enough exploring of these topics, we CAN get better at handling challenges and obstacles as they present themselves. (Keep any eye out for more articles on these topics on our blog.)

Disclaimer: Sometimes our emotions and thoughts are influenced by our body chemistry or emotional traumas. If you are struggling to work with your thoughts and emotions, use your emotions as a clue AND GET PROFESSIONAL HELP IF YOU NEED IT. There is NOTHING wrong with asking for help.

Check out this video by Helen M. Farrell TED-Ed to learn more about “What is Depression”:

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