How many times did you hear somebody tell you that you should think more positively? That you are a killjoy or that you spoiled somebody’s day by being in a bad mood? I bet you felt embarrassed about that or even guilty that you were not able to see the glass as half full.
Well, that sucks. But it’s a part of the positivity-oriented culture we are all living in. The one that says that your negative feelings are not welcome at the party.
It is well known that ignoring or suppressing our negative emotions is bad for our mental and physical health. But what are we to do with our anger, sadness, disappointment and other similar reactions? We cannot express them for fear of social rejection. We cannot suppress them for fear they will lead to a total meltdown.
The best solution is to just accept them as they are, according to recent studies.
There is evidence that staying in touch with our feelings and taking them for what they are can lead to emotional resilience and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What acceptance does is to take away the sharpness of our dark emotions. In time, if we practice acceptance of your own feelings, it will improve our overall mental health.
It is important to know that acceptance is about paying attention to our internal experience, about not judging our reactions. It does not mean capitulating in the face of a bad situation. It’s one thing to accept your disappointment caused by a break up and a whole other thing to passively concede to being mistreated or abused by someone.
We cannot be happy all the time because we are not built like this. So always having a positive attitude and not bringing everybody down with your emotions is not a sustainable solution to our problems. Moreover, not being able to meet these expectations can only worsen our state of mind and make us feel more isolated.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t take the necessary steps to feel better. But accepting our own feelings is the most important step toward healing.
Learning to see your emotions as passing clouds that don’t define us is something that takes practice. But it will help us gain peace of mind and a better understanding of who we are.
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