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Summary: It’s OK to let yourself feel bad. In fact, it’s healthy to do so. Learn why it’s so important and how you can do it in this article.
From the time we’re small children, most of us have been taught to control our emotions. Whether we’re screaming with anger or we’re crying because we’re sad, we are told that we need to be in control and not show so much emotion, especially negative emotion. Why? It is likely that it makes other people uncomfortable if they are around negative energy and emotions. We’re all taught to keep our emotions in check, so when someone doesn’t, we tell them to pull it together.
While it’s great to be happy and focus on the good things in life, does it help to stuff down the negative emotions or force them away? No, it really doesn’t improve things in the long run. Negative emotions are just as important as the positive ones when it comes to being a happy and well-adjusted person. Negative emotions just need to be used productively rather than willed away.
It’s actually been shown that people who accept and feel their negative emotions are much less likely to dwell on those negative emotions in the long run and less likely to be upset over being upset. If you try to avoid negative emotions, you’re more likely to beat yourself up about feeling negative when the time does come, which only ends in self-judgment and feeling bad about yourself. Accepting your emotions means you’re accepting yourself, which leads to much greater happiness in the long run.
What does this look like in practice? Allowing yourself to experience your negative emotions means really feeling them. Maybe don’t cry in front of your boss, but when you get home (or in the stairwell) let it out. Ask yourself: “How do I feel right now?” Then ask where do you feel that in your body? What does it feel like? Why do you think you feel this way?
Experiencing these emotions in your physical body will really allow you to experience them and then move through them. Give yourself some time to feel and then decide when it’s time to let it go. For something small, give yourself an hour pity-party. For something really big, like the loss of a loved one or a relationship, give yourself more time. It’s up to you, but know that once you really allow yourself to feel and understand your emotions, you’ll be more likely to get past them rather than letting them hide under the surface for far too long.
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