At some point I teach all of my clients about the concept of 50/50.
50/50 is the idea that in life we experience positive emotion 50% of the time, and negative emotion 50% of the time.
This includes the entire spectrum of emotion, from misery, anger, irritability, and sadness all the way to fascination, ecstasy, elation, and pure bliss-- and all of the feelings in between.
It almost always works out to be 50% positive and 50% negative emotion, generally speaking.
Understanding the concept of 50/50 is life-changing.
When we expect to feel crappy half the time and happy the other half the time, we can relax a bit when we feel crappy because we know this is just part of the deal-- it’s just a part of life.
Negative feelings are supposed to be here-- we are not supposed to feel happy all the time.
In our culture of “the pursuit of happiness” we set ourselves up for misery because we’ve made the pursuit mean “goal,” as if happiness is a constant state just within reach.
Then, when we have a negative emotion-- say, irritability with our spouse or exhaustion from a long day at the office-- we think something has gone wrong and therefore need to fix it.
But you can’t fix a negative emotion-- because it doesn’t need fixing.
It simply needs the space to be felt, and then it will move on-- just like happiness.
Remember when you first started dating your spouse or partner?
He or she could do no wrong back then. You were filled only with feelings of excitement, love, adoration, and appreciation.
And then the honeymoon period ended and you started to experience negative feelings about your partner from time to time.
Totally normal, because just like crappiness, happiness is also fleeting-- it was never meant to be a constant state.
Nothing has gone wrong.
Why does 50/50 matter?
50/50 matters because when you stop trying to fix your negative emotions, you will stop buffering.
Buffering is action taken to avoid or eliminate negative emotion that has a net-negative result.
These actions may feel “good” in the moment, but always have a net-negative result.
These reactive actions (buffering) end up compounding the negative emotion, because now we feel crappy about the original circumstance and crappy about the buffering.
When we understand and accept that everything is 50/50 and that we are supposed to feel shitty feelings half the time, we can choose to just be with the emotion and not react to it.
We can remind ourselves that when negative emotions come up, nothing has gone wrong and that we're normal human beings who feel all the feels, which is totally normal, expected, and OK.
We can choose to relax into the emotion, instead of seeking out an action to buffer the emotion away.
We don’t have to solve the emotion or try to push it back to a state of happiness.
Negative emotions are not something to be solved.
They are emotions to be felt.
And if you allow yourself to feel them, without taking action to eliminate them, you will find you buffer less and feel more.
And when you do that, guess what happens?
The negative feelings go away.
Not immediately, but they do go away.
And without the compound effect of buffering actions on top of it to multiply the net negative result.
How great is that?
So the next time you feel a negative emotion, remember that it deserves to be there.
Don’t take action to eliminate it.
Just feel it, and then move on when you’re ready.
Because a positive emotion is on it’s way shortly.
It’s always 50/50.
Lia Pinelli is a weight loss coach and educator who helps women put an end to emotional overeating and lose weight, permanently.