Please see negative feelings and thoughts as an opportunity, as a learning experience, because it is extremely important and valuable for us to learn about unpleasant emotions.
How far can we make friends with them, how far can we say I don’t feel O.K. but it is O.K. not to feel O.K?
What exactly is negative, unpleasant about it? Is it a thought, is it a sensation, is it an emotion? Trying really to look deeply into what you consider to be negativity.
Another tool is to think of our friend the breath at that time. Or just become conscious of the sensations in the body. Just being with the breath, just being with the sensations; and then if we can just be with the breath and with the sensations we might have fewer thoughts and this will help us to really create space around the unpleasant emotion we are experiencing.
The next tool is to realise that whatever arises passes away. What is funny is that if we have an unpleasant emotion, if we tell the unpleasant emotion: don’t leave me, don’t go, what will happen? It won’t stay. Or even if we say: stay with me, it will change. So we have no control. These things arise, these things pass away. So just to be open to that important aspect of what the Buddha taught.
Another very important point is that when these unpleasant emotions are not there, just to know that they are not there. Because everything is changing, sometimes we have pleasant emotions, sometimes we have unpleasant emotions. We won’t be having all pleasant emotions nor will we be having all unpleasant emotions. So to be open to both and know when they are there and when they are not there.
Realise that these are visitors that come to our mind. So you must be a very good host, and let these visitors come and let these visitors go. So when visitors come, as a good host you must say: Hello, welcome. Make friends with them and talk to them. Why have you come? What can I learn from you? And when they leave, say: Goodbye. Come back again later!
So in this way we can learn to play with their coming and going. Then rather than see them as problems, you see them as very interesting situations, challenges, working with these interesting visitors we have. And there is a very deep Buddhist insight which understands that these visitors do not belong to us. The problem arises when we think they belong to us and say, this is my sadness, this is my anxiety. So I hope you will wait for these visitors to come and then learn to use some of these tools. Then you can develop lots of self-confidence, and when they arise you know what to do.