When Feeling Bad is Good

When feeling bad is good for you

Barbara Kass

Just as our bodies signal us to tend to our physical well-being, so our emotions act like messengers to mind our emotional well-being. When we are rested and energized, we can take on life’s challenges with ease. Feeling tired indicates we need to retreat and relax. Likewise, feelings of joy, contentment, and love say “everything is fine” while feeling angry, anxious, or depressed make us uncomfortable and think “something is wrong.”

The happiness road beckons all of us yet trying to follow that path by avoiding painful emotions is a gateway to living a less-than-authentic life. Meeting difficult emotions face-to-face is the foundation of resilience and can help guide our lives. When struck by a spark of rage or held immobile by despair or fear, we must ask ourselves: What purpose does this emotion serve for me? What am I trying to tell myself? How can this emotion best guide my decisions and actions in the next moments?

In his book, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, author James Martin points out that any emotion can overwhelm us. We might feel a joy out of proportion to a particular event or moved to tears for something insignificant and wonder: What is wrong with me? In those distinct moments, we don’t quite feel right. There is a certain emptiness, a longing, a desire to connect with a larger understanding that seems just outside of our reach. Martin calls those moments invitations from God asking us to communicate with the greater power of our origination. And if we connect with the power that gave us this life – the power that wants us to have a good life – we know we are getting the best counseling available.

I frequent a blog, Domini Canes, where a recent post reminded me that we look to God for answers through prayer, but prayer is not a man-made action. Rather, prayer is a gift, a door eternally open to connection with God. We are both the seeker and the sought.

Our lives shout at us through our feelings and in the silent circumstances of our deeds. Your emotions will tell you everything you need to know about your journey. As you sift through the results of your decisions and actions, look at how your trials made meaning in your life and know the presence of God within you.

9 thoughts on “When Feeling Bad is Good

  1. Well said Barbara. When we are in touch with our truest, deepest, inner selves, we are in touch with God. Unfortunately, many of us are not aware of our deepest emotions and we all walk around numb sometimes. I think modern society supports that. I guess that is where pastoral counselors, care givers, and spiritual directors come in. To assist us with getting to know ourselves and our emotions, inner stirrings and key interior movements intimately and therefore become our best authentic selves. Thank you for your post.

  2. Barbara,

    I so know what you are discussing here. I have just recently had joy and sorrow happening at the same time.
    I had to ask myself how to I grow through this? Or more in line with how do we know we are going through the experience of just numbing ourselfs?

    Praying is the open door, mediation is the silence I need to receive the answer!


    • Hi, Jeff – sorry it took so long to respond! We are working on a few glitches here still. Anyway, I think moving through these moments as you describe is a movement towards God.

  3. Hi, Joann — I know; many people think that God is only with them when they are feeling good. God is with us especially when life is not going quite right.

  4. Pingback: The presence of self-promotion « Eternal Presence

  5. I found this interesting. In fact, it got me to wondering if it isn’t possible that our best opportunity to connect with God is when we are “feeling bad,” and that by using that emotional marker to signal our need for that deeper connection, we might give ourselves the best chance for finding that which we seek. If feeling bad is a barometer of our emotional needs, it can also serve as a signpost on our journey. Take a left turn here, or follow this path, or go around this corner … all of which signal the concept of continuous movement, which is essential to life.

    • Hi, Nancy — sorry it took me so long to respond! Having issues with notifications, etc. and working on it. I love the visual that comes to mind when I follow your directions. It gives me an idea for another blog . . .

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