“Many of us avoid emotions [like shame and guilt] without realizing the consequences of having a small emotional range,” says Anna Kress, a psychologist in Princeton, New Jersey.
“But emotions help us respond to our environment in an adaptive way. For example, anxiety can keep us out of danger, anger can help us establish boundaries, and sadness allows us to slow down and process a loss or seek support.”
Are you one to run away from your negative emotions? You might think I am crazy but I actually think that instead of running away, here are 4 reasons why you should deal with your negative emotions.
1. Dealing with negative emotions leads to a fuller human experience.
Through countless challenges, setbacks, pitfalls and triumphs which we live through, it’s inevitable to experience a variety of emotions such as joy, pain, anger, happiness, gratitude, guilt and shame. Naturally, it’s your instinct to seek out more pleasurable and positive experiences. You will most probably try to block out negative emotions and experiences. However, it is only when you have lived through sadness, loss or grief will you be able to appreciate happiness, joy and fulfillment. Only when you have known the pain of betrayal will you be able to celebrate being valued and trusted. By embracing and allowing yourself to feel negative emotions, you are actually allowing yourself to recognise positive emotions. Experiencing a full range of emotions is to truly live a HUMAN life.
2. Releasing negative emotions helps to manage addictions and cravings
A study in 2010 found that attempts to suppress negative thoughts and emotions related to addiction, urges and cravings, actually worsened the problem. Those who often fought their addictions with intrusive and negative thoughts and feelings actually harbored more ill- feelings deep down. A 2010 study suggested that pushing back negative emotions could spawn more emotional overeating, binge drinking and substance abuse. It is normal to want to put your best foot forward. We always want to give an impression of control and order. However, when it comes to managing addictions, urges and cravings, you might be better off accepting that you were upset, ashamed or angry to begin with.
3. Accepting negative emotions is good for your physical health too
Most people think that expressing emotions is solely for our mental and emotional well being but there is an increasing amount of research which shows that expressing your emotions is also good for your physical health. Better sleep, higher energy and reduced stress are some physical benefits attributed to processing and more importantly accepting your negative emotions. Suppressing unwanted thoughts and feelings prior to sleeping, causes more dreams about it, a phenomenon called dream rebound. Actively holding back your emotions is hard work which can actually drain your body of energy. This in turn has a negative impact on your immune system, your heart and even your brain. It is all part of the mind-body connection.
4. Expressing your negative emotions brings you closer to your loved ones
Emotions are cues for other people to better understand and relate to you and your experiences. By expressing your emotions, you are communicating important information related to who you are as a person, your values, perceptions and even your needs. When you express vulnerable emotions like sadness, pain, or fear with those who care about you, it actually creates bonding moments, making the relationships deeper, more meaningful, and intimate.
Accepting your negative emotions, allowing yourself the time and space to process it will give you more stability. Our experienced coaches are here for you should you need to speak to someone. Re-learning to live in spite of the negative emotions you carry will ultimately bring more peace and fulfillment to you.
I wish you lots of strength and positivity in your journey.