Red daisy

I woke up this morning irritable and adrift, my head full of clanging negative voices. When this happens I always feel slightly guilty, as if for the crime of being insufficiently positive, but that isn’t enough to banish the feeling. (And probably adds to it.) I can almost feel the energy seeping out of me, off to other places where it might perhaps get used.

I think the way to deal with these things is to decline the guilt, and instead be in the place you are.  You don’t have to dive into it or torture yourself, but just let the feelings have their way and then pass on. I think there’s a strain of real fear in our culture of things like melancholy and depression, however mild or short-lived. It’s the same thing with anger — I can’t even count the feel-good inspirational messages in pop culture disowning anger, which is a shame because it’s quite a useful (and inevitable) emotion, as long as it’s allowed to have its way and pass. I think we get into far more trouble trying to control our feelings in one way or another — whether it’s rejecting them or clinging to them — than in just letting them have their way. Anger and melancholy are feelings like any other, and part of the human condition. If I reject them, I reject my humanity. I’ll let them have their way instead. They always find somewhere else to go if I let them. And in their place is almost always left a realization, or an epiphany, or sometimes just peace.

Negative emotions are not useless, nor are they destructive, unless you try to leash them and control them. They’ll have their way in the end. So I think I’ll take a nap and see what’s there when I wake up.


4 thoughts on “In praise of anger and melancholy

  1. I agree with you on the value of negative emotions like anger or melancholy – not as ends in themselves, but because they are keys to perception, and have important things to tell us about painful inner states or outer conditions that must be acknowledged to be overcome or changed.

  2. I am worn thin by all the “experts” who view anger and melancholy as must-not emotions. Frankly, I like to slam doors when I’m angry and I’m not really choosey who sees or hears me. It’s almost like sneezing – one or two really good ones will clear things up right now.
    And when I’m melancholy, I usually allow it to feed until it’s done. Play the theme songs from the saddest movies. Better yet, watch the silly things and just cry. Then get up and get on with it.

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