Carol Caskey, a counselor with Heart to Heart Communication, argues that negative emotions are a good thing if seen from the right light. We welcome Carol to Thriving Couples Blog. This is her first blog.
And they all lived happily ever after…
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? So many people come to me looking for “happily ever after.” We seem to think, if I just get the right job, if I just fix my marriage, if I just get enough money, a big enough car, a big enough house, then I will live happily ever after.
I think couples are rather taken aback when I tell them I don’t think we are supposed to live happily ever after.
God made us with a wide range of emotions: some that we enjoy, and some we’d rather never have. If he wanted us to always be content, then He would not gave given us the uncomfortable ones.
What then is the purpose of those distasteful emotions? Let’s use a physical sensation as an example: hunger. Hunger is a feeling that we don’t particularly enjoy, but it encourages us to get off the couch and find something to eat. It is important because without hunger we would starve.
I once saw a sci-fi movie where everyone was given an injection of food every few minutes: a nice steady supply and no one ever got hungry. No one ever hungry? Sounds like paradise, right?
But think about how wonderful a good meal tastes when you’re hungry. Do you want to give that up? How about the joy of raising your won tomatoes or strawberries, and eating them fresh off the vine? Or grilling your own steak, or smelling spaghetti sauce as it cooks? Would you give that up to never be hungry again?
Hunger enables us to enjoy becoming not hungry. It’s the same for feelings. Our negative feelings inspire us to do something different. To grow, and change, and better our situation. And just like we shouldn’t stay hungry, we shouldn’t stay in the negative emotions. It’s not bad to be hungry for a couple of hours, but it’s terrible to be hungry for a lifetime. We need a healthy balance of a little discomfort in our lives of comfort.
When I visited Tanzania in September, I visited a village where the women had to walk a couple of miles every day to fetch water from the river, and then carry it home in buckets on their heads. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, the river is full of crocodiles, and the road to the river is frequented by men of malintent. Imagine, if you want to wash, or drink, or cook, you must risk your life daily. When I learned of this situation, I was horrified. Then I was moved to do something about it. I had to become uncomfortable in order to be willing to make a change. And then I felt better. Eventually the village women will feel better too.
So I don’t wish that no one in the world will ever be hungry again, but that no one will ever be hungry without soon being fed. And I don’t wish for a “happily ever after” for you or for me. I wish for a “balanced ever after.”
And they all lived balanced ever after….