# 45 on my, 99 Life Tips – A List is: In the face of negative emotions, go as granular as you can to analyze and identify exactly what it is you’re feeling. Generalities like, ”I’m just sad,” won’t work.
No matter your optimism, positive-mindedness, or mental toughness, there will be times when you feel bad. Unfortunately, this fact besieges and ensnares us all. Even those whose practice is to deny negative emotions, for a moment feel bad enough to trigger their denial response. It is neither a crime, nor a sin, to feel bad. In the physical world, pain is a signal that something is damaged or injured and needs protective care. Ignoring physical pain can lead to permanent damage.
This is also true of emotional pain. Ignoring or denying mental and emotional pain is not an effective strategy if mental and emotional health is the goal. Neither are generalizations a good remedy. Telling yourself, or others, ”I’m just down today,” or, ”I just feel bad,” doesn’t give any clues either to what it is you’re really feeling, or to the cause. Think of the last time someone mouthed this to you. Did their, ”I just feel bad,” provide enough useful information to offer a solution or ease their suffering?
Sometimes, we guard our privacy by deflecting unwanted attention away from our down times. Uttering a generic, ”I’m just a little down,” can be a defensive, avoidance technique. However, it’s not healthy to do this to yourself. One practice that is helpful is to probe deeper than these surface generalities to unmask exactly, precisely what you’re feeling.
Emotional Nuance Is More Than Semantics
There is a difference between ”sadness,” and depression, and between depression, and anxiety. Likewise, are you ”upset,” or frustrated? ”Angry,” or just annoyed? Do you feel ”hurt,” or ashamed? Are you simply ”bothered,” or do you feel overlooked and invisible? These nuances of emotional intensity and precision are more than mere semantics.
Going ”granular” yields analysis of your feelings with specificity. And the process of ferreting out precisely what you’re feeling, will often reveal why you’re feeling it. Oftentimes, this discovery is the insight you need to change the way you feel. Sometimes this happens instantly. Other times, you’ll come away with a hard-won lesson that can bring beauty and wisdom from the pain. At minimum, you will have a diagnostic tool revealing the root causes of the matter.
The next time you feel bad, go as granular as you can. Dive deeply to discover exactly what you’re feeling. You’ll likely also uncover the ”why” of your negative emotions, and this awareness will equip you to address the roots, and not just the bad, surface fruits, represented by those generic ”bad” feelings.