There is a common myth that certain industries want you to believe about life, and they have been very successful in hooking you in. That myth is:
“You are supposed to be happy all of the time.”
Basically, the message etched into society that if you are feeling emotionally ‘down’, you need ‘fixing’, because there is something wrong with you.
That message is everywhere: TV commercials, magazines, and general conversations in almost any social situation. Had a bad day? You need a drink. Feeling depressed? Just pop an anti-depressant. Suffering from anxiety? There’s a pill for that too.
The idea is that you’re supposed to buy stuff, quick fixes like medication, to make you feel better.
But quick fixes only temporarily hide your bad feelings, and will not make them go away. Avoiding negative feelings are more likely to hinder rather than help you, by inhibiting the growth and development that normally happens when you experience unpleasant emotions, leaving you feeling unequipped to handle life’s challenges.
If you believe there is something wrong with you because you are not happy all of the time, please do yourself a favour by taking a deep breath, and relax. Because it is okay – you are NOT supposed to be happy all of the time.
The times where you feel “down” are not only important but can actually be beneficial to your wellbeing. Here are five reasons why you should not avoid your negative emotions:
All feelings are valid.
Emotions are our body’s way of processing our thoughts and beliefs about our life experiences.
The way that you interact with the world and with yourself will be different when you are feeling down to when you are feeling joyful. Sometimes we need to feel sorry for ourselves, because then we take better care of ourselves, or allow others to take care of us. Anger can be the cue that you need to remind you of what is most important to you, allowing you to stand up for your values.
The bad times energize the good times.
Negative energizes positive, and positive charges negative – you can’t have one without the other. Stars can’t shine without a dark sky. When we experience loss, life becomes more precious. Life is about balance. The contrast of the bad times helps to highlight when things are good. If you think about it, never having a bad day would mean that each day would have to be better and better in order to compete with the last. Bad times allow an otherwise neutral experience to become a positive experience.
In order to change, you must become dissatisfied with where you are.
Uncomfortable feelings birth new desires and actions. By not allowing yourself to fully feel the discomfort of your emotions, you might be keeping yourself stuck by not taking action to create the changes that you need to make. When you give yourself the time to self-reflect on a situation, you’ll gain clarity that will help to make a decision about how to best move forward. This will give you the opportunity to create changes – either a change in your behaviour or a shift in your thinking.
We miss out on a lot of growth and learnings when we avoid our bad feelings.
People who thrive don’t dismiss their bad feelings. They give themselves the space to process the way they feel, and question why they feel that way. Life comes with challenges, and without challenges we would never grow. Being human means that it is completely normal to feel emotions such as sadness, despair, depression, anxiety, grief, regret, frustration, anger and shame.
What is most important is who you choose to become as a result of your suffering. You can let a situation harden you, and become bitter. Or you can open your heart, become stronger and more determined. Is there an opportunity to take responsibility for how you’d like a situation to be? Have you learnt a new way to either do or not do something? All challenges present an opportunity for you to become better.
Suppressing negative emotions can lead to the energy becoming trapped in your body.
We are taught by society that we need to suppress any negative feelings. We’re told that we’re ‘brave’ for not crying – especially men. But it isn’t natural to resist the urge to cry, because your body is trying to release the energy of whatever it is you are letting go of, and by resisting you are holding on to that energy. It will only keep trying to come out in other ways until you allow yourself to let it go.
The same goes with anger – being able to control your anger is important to avoid outbursts with others, however controlling does not mean keeping the anger trapped inside of you. The energy of anger is adrenaline – which can be useful for a lot of things. Use it to your advantage by channeling it something positive rather than destructive, such as exercise.