Do you typically avoid negative emotions or embrace them? Embracing the complexities of the human emotional experience is a good thing. It helps you to build a healthy relationship with yourself by validating and allowing yourself to feel. Of course, not every feeling needs to be acted upon especially if you find yourself repeating unhealthy behaviours. However, avoiding any negative emotions is an act of violence against of well-being.
I often see that people conflating emotions outside of joy as being a bad thing. In my opinion, I believe that this is undermining and dismissive. It also shames people for feeling genuine emotions over real-life situations. As much as you may do your absolute best to feel great all the time, you are going to have crappy days. That doesn’t make you a negative person. In fact, by embracing your feelings and accepting them is a sign of emotional maturity. It demonstrates that you are validating your emotional experience.
Problem with emotional avoidance:
- The feelings you suppress come out later in life as unaddressed pain
- You are not practising self-care and self-love
- You may find yourself experiencing random outburst of sadness
- You may subconsciously project your negative feelings onto others
- You may be avoiding finding solutions to your problems
When you approach negative feelings with ‘stay positive’ rhetoric, you end up preventing yourself from feeling your feelings. Behind your emotions may be unaddressed pain that manifests emotions like sadness, anger, etc. When you don’t allow yourself to uncover the truth behind your feelings, thoughts, and actions, you distract yourself from doing necessary healing work.
Additionally, I am a firm believer that you can’t fool the universe. What you avoid will always find a way to confront you eventually. Your negative feelings can manifest in the people you attract, the situations you find yourself in and so forth. Wouldn’t you rather deal with the temporary discomfort of your feelings instead of taking months/ years to clean up the damage caused by suppressing your feelings? I would choose the first option!
Here are some tips on how to deal with emotional avoidance:
- Learn to hold yourself when feeling low- What would you say to a child who’s feeling low? You wouldn’t shut them down by saying ‘stay positive’ (well I hope not). You would try to affirm them maybe by saying that ‘it’s okay to be sad, but things will be okay’. Learn to comfort yourself just like you would to a child and assure yourself that things are going to be okay.
- Breathe- Do some breathing techniques to calm yourself down. You could try the 4-7-8 breathing rule or any other ones that you may find useful.
- Journal- Write about how you are feeling. Focus on writing down the situation and emotions that cropped up for you. Then write down what methods you can try to make yourself feel better at the moment.
- Remind yourself of your values- If you haven’t already, write down your values. Are your actions/emotions currently in alignment with the type of person you want to be? This helps you to put things into perspective and reminds you that in the longer-term certain emotions shall pass.
Life comes in cycles. We must become comfortable in seeing our life that way. Some days are harder than others but that’s life. We truly need to have moments of sadness so we can understand and appreciate life and its joys. Acceptance is where you become emotionally healthy and therefore practice self-validation.
A question to you:
Do you avoid negative emotions or embrace them?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Much Love, Ash xx