The good news is, there are certain steps we can take to help us accept and deal with our emotions. Firstly, we need to understand that emotions are a natural part of being human; we all experience them from time to time.
Types of emotionsWhether you’ve had an argument with someone, lost a loved one or lost your job, there are many situations that can bring about negative emotions such as sadness, fear, shame or anger. Society often bullies us into believing that if we experience these negative kinds of emotions, we are a bad person, so we tend to shut them down and not deal with them properly. Although this can seem like the best thing to do in the short term (and to avoid judgement from others), in the long term, it can do more harm than good. Remember, it’s not just you that experiences negative emotions.
By accepting our emotions and dealing with them positively, we can start to feel better quicker and learn to resolve any issues that are so very often repeated. Humans have emotions for a reason, and they can provide us with vital information about situations we need to confront or deal with.
Learning how to accept our emotionsBy accepting our emotions and recognising that they are a natural response to certain situations means that we can become less judgemental of ourselves. There’s a difference between resigning ourselves to emotional pain and wallowing in self-pity, and accepting our feelings. We must remind ourselves that emotions are only ever temporary. Regardless of whether we’re feeling joy or sadness, they happen for a reason: to help us make decisions about what we need to change in or lives. When we listen to what our emotions are trying to tell us, we can take important information from them and act upon them accordingly.
Recognising our emotionsBefore we can truly accept our emotions, it’s important to recognise what they are and why we are feeling them in the first place. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by a particular emotion, try and pay attention to how you're feeling at that moment in time. Are you experiencing any physical feelings? What thoughts are going through your mind? Do you recognise the emotion, and can you identify it?
Separating from your emotionsOnce you’ve recognised the emotion that you’re experiencing and taken it on board, try and distance yourself from it by visualising it outside of your body. What does it look like? How big is it? What does it sound like?
Once you have accepted the emotion, let it go from your sight.
What did you learn?It’s important to take some time to reflect on your experience. How did you feel about the emotion once it was no longer inside of you? What do you think caused the emotion? What did you learn from it and did you come to any decisions about how you can avoid it in the future?
With practice, you’ll find it easier to accept your emotions and you’ll be able to take away some very useful information from them which will help you make more informed decisions about your present situation.
Through experience, observation and research, Tracy Kennedy, a personal development expert for Lifehack, discusses her findings and musings on negative emotions and how to handle them.