Ahhh, negative emotions, your favorite, right? Probably not.
We live in a society that so badly wants everyone to be positive all the time, so much so that we sometimes actually feel embarrassed when we’re not feeling positively. We try and hide it, only showing the world the “best” parts of ourselves. It’s as if negative emotions have become some sign of weakness.
I recently learned a new perspective on the importance of negative emotions and I think that experiencing them is not a weakness, but important for mental health, self-awareness, and life overall.If you think about it, if there wasn’t unhappy moments how would we be able to truly experience the happy moments. Basically, there is no happiness without unhappiness and I think that many times we tend to forget that. We try and resist unhappiness or other negative emotions but in reality, negative emotions are just a part of our full experience of being alive.
Now I’m not saying that you should go around living your life trapped in negative emotions. I’m only writing on being able to experience your negative emotions so that you can understand them for what they actually are and appreciate that it’s all a part of fully living life.
There’s a difference between letting an emotion be what it is, and reacting to it. When you react to a negative emotion, you are trying to overcome it or resist it. To experience an emotion, you are recognizing it, letting it be what it is, and allowing it to flow through you just as a part of life.
For example, guilt is an emotion that you probably don’t necessarily long for. However, it’s something most of us are pretty familiar with. There are not necessarily problems with guilt itself, the problems lie in how you react to it. If you try and resist your guilt, you’ll find yourself avoiding situations or people or acting defensive. Instead, you could just recognize the guilt for what it is, that it’s there, that you are experiencing it, and that it’s a part of life. Then, you will be able to allow yourself to heal from it and stop avoiding things in fear.
I encourage you to try this. Next you time you start to feel a negative emotion, allow yourself to quietly sit and truly identify it. What does it actually feel like within your body? Do you feel it in your chest, stomach? What is it that you are really avoiding?
We find ourselves resisting emotions so often that we don’t even know what they truthfully feel like. Re-teaching ourselves how to feel allows us to understand that our emotions are typically no more than just sensations within our bodies, and really have no further influences on our lives.
Being able to truly express a full range of emotions brings out a whole different angle of courage in you. Realizing that life is full of ups and downs, and taking the time to really experience your negative emotions will allow you to understand that your resistance to feeling negative emotion is much bigger than the emotion itself.