This Is The Trouble With ‘Good Vibes Only’


Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a mug or canvas print in a HomeGoods that had “good vibes only” plastered front and center.

We’ve all heard or used the phrase “good vibes,” but when did this term make its way into our vocabulary?

The general consensus on the internet is that, after the Beach Boys released their song “Good Vibrations” in 1966, the phrase “good vibes” became mainstream and was recently brought back into popularity in the 2010s. Over the years, this phrase has evolved out of what was once considered a hippie term into an appropriate sentiment you can comment on a social media post when you want to convey that you’re sending someone a good thought.

But, is it realistic to set the expectation that our vibration always needs to be good? And what does that even mean?

A simple way to think about your vibe or vibration is to consider how your emotions inform your mood and energy. If you’re feeling angry because some distracted driver cut you off on your way to work and allow that to tank your mood, you walk into the office carrying that energy with you. Some of your colleagues might be able to tell that something is off with you even if you haven’t said a word. This is, in essence, what it looks like to pick up on someone’s vibe.

Or perhaps you’re at a party and a friend finally introduces you to a person they’ve been dying for you to meet. Even though this person didn’t do or say anything to raise a red flag in your book, you can’t help but feel like they’ve got bad vibes. You are picking up on their energy.

Many people believe each emotion has a frequency and all emotions and their corresponding frequency collectively make up a spectrum. So, an emotion like joy or peace has a higher frequency while emotions like fear or shame have a lower vibrational frequency.

Part of being human is experiencing the full gamut of emotions; repressing our feelings and emotions is not beneficial for our long-term mental and emotional health.

Giving ourselves permission to fully experience emotions that seem negative can actually help us move through them faster; the more willing we are to sit with something that is uncomfortable, the more effective we can be at observing the root cause and moving past it.

There will be days, weeks, or even months where, for whatever reason, you struggle to sustain an emotion like joy, and that’s normal. In fact, most of us oscillate between a large range of emotions on an average day and likely don’t spend more than a few moments sitting with those elevated emotions before we get distracted and our attention gets pulled toward something else (i.e. you receive a frantic text from a friend, see a triggering post on social media, or tune into the news).

The important thing to be aware of is that you’re not allowing yourself to unnecessarily ruminate in any negative, or low vibration, emotion.

If you’re feeling guilt, explore that. When did you first notice it? What do you feel is causing you to experience this emotion and is that rooted in truth or could your perception of something be skewed? These are all constructive, healthy things to explore when experiencing any feeling you’re not comfortable with, but make an effort to stop the mental spiral as soon as it stops being productive.

Feelings that are perceived as negative can teach us a lot. Fear, for example, can help us see how much we care about someone. Ever had a loved one hanging on by a thread in the ICU? Enter fear to show you how much that person means to you.

Grief exists when we lose someone or something that was deeply meaningful to us. How sad to go through your entire life without experiencing grief, because to grieve means we deeply loved and cared for someone (or something).

Without lower frequency emotions, would the higher ones even feel as good? If we lived in a world where we only felt peace and joy, we would miss out on incredibly thought-provoking art or music that brings us to tears. Some of my biggest successes in life were born out of moments of defeat, frustration, and fear; I made the conscious choice to leverage my emotions and use them to help propel myself forward.

All emotions can serve us and help us grow, we just have to ensure we’re aware of what we are spending the majority of our time focusing on. At the end of the day, we can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we choose to respond.