Did you ever wonder why G-d gave you your negative emotions? I mean, wouldn't things be so much simpler, easier and stress-free if no-one ever got angry, or sad, or vengeful?
Marriage would be a walk in the park; child-rearing a delightful picnic; shopping for Pesach would be enjoyable (OK, scratch that last one, it's completely unrealistic.)
Point is, did G-d somehow make a mistake, when He decided to give us the chemical equipment required to be depressed, enraged and judgemental? Didn't He know that these so-called 'chemical imbalances' were going to be a serious liability, and prevent us from actually enjoying ourselves and being productive human beings?
The drug companies certainly think so. Their whole big sales pitch is that negative emotions are somehow abnormal, and should be done away with ASAP.
A few years' back, I was working with a client who was going through some very intense things in her life. As often happened, difficult finances opened a whole big can of worms for her, and out seeped all this other stuff that forced her to re-evaluate her relationship to her husband and other close family members.
It was big stuff. It was important stuff. It was stuff that she needed to acknowledge and work through, and get past. My client was overweight, and had recently developed psoriasis. She knew that her repressed emotional issues were affecting her health, and that her physical issues would only go once she got to grips with the emotional pain that was underneath them.
But she wasn't enjoying the work.
Here's a secret: no-one enjoys dealing with all their old emotional baggage. If we could easily deal with it and move on, it wouldn't be baggage in the first place. The whole reason it got repressed is precisely because we felt overwhelmed by the pain of it all, and couldn't manage it.
Thank G-d, JEMI has developed a number of shortcuts to make the whole process as painless, fast and easy as possible, but it's normal and natural for some strong emotions to surface when you're getting to grips with just how miserable you actually felt, growing up; or just how lonely you actually feel in your marriage, right now, especially if you've been running away from those feelings for years.
My client's neighbour happened to be a doctor. One day, the doctor saw her leave her house weeping, and popped round with some advice and a packet of pills:
"Why suffer?" she told her. "It's just a chemical imbalance in your brain. You need to pull yourself together for your family, and be able to function. Take these."
Thankfully, the client didn't. But she came to me to say she couldn't continue with the treatment.
"People are noticing that I'm sad, and they're starting to talk," she explained. She didn't want to risk turning into a local pariah by exhibiting obvious negative emotions.
Now, why did my client have those strong negative emotions?
The short answer, is because G-d was giving her some very strong signals that something big needed to change in her life, and in her relationships. My client needed to set firmer boundaries; she needed to believe in herself and like herself more; she needed to start getting G-d involved in her life.
G-d sent her the financial wake-up call and all her subsequent difficult emotions as a call to action; a reminder that her life could be so much better, and that she shouldn't settle for less.
When people don't have G-d in the picture, they don't have the first clue why they have negative emotions, even if they have a PhD in psychology or neurobiology. The G-d-less approach to healthcare leads, inevitably, to Prozac and Paxil, and a world where anything less than 100% happy, shiny and cheerful requires instant medication.
But you can't divide human emotions in that way: if you chemically switch off 'unhappy', you also chemically block true happiness. The opposite of negative emotions isn't good emotions; it's no emotions.
G-d didn't make a mistake. Our emotions, both positive and negative, hold the key to helping us to work out what needs to change in our lives; what needs to improve; what needs to happen. With G-d in the picture, even the most overwhelming negative emotions and situations can be dealt with and turned around for the best. The pain doesn't last for ever; the problem disappears; and person emerges stronger, healthier and with much more inner peace and contentment.
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