Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Feel Good About Feeling Bad

     People come into therapy for many reasons, but underlying those reasons is usually an emotion of some sort.  In fact, it's a specific kind of emotion because let's face it, no one sees a therapist because they're feeling happy and well-adjusted.  We come to therapy because we feel depressed or anxious or unworthy or dejected.  We come to therapy to get rid of the emotions we deem to be negative.  But are they really?

    I would say that emotions are just emotions.  They are temporary states that clue us in to what is going on in our lives.  And I would say the reason one emotion is thought of as positive and another negative is a result of our culture.  In America, we're told (or sold) the idea that we are supposed to always be happy.  The fact that we're not allows companies to sell us things to help us achieve happiness.  But happiness, like all other emotions, is a temporary state.

   Our emotions developed over eons of human history.  Their purpose is to provide the motivation and perception needed to interact with others and survive in our environment.  Therefore, all of our emotions, including the negative ones, are essential to our lives.  So it's not that we have these emotions that is the problem, it's what we choose to do with them.

    Take anger for instance.  It can be destructive or productive depending on its user.  It can destroy us or motivate us depending on our perception of ourselves.  Anger tells us that all is not right in our world.  It helps us avoid being exploited or undervalued and it can put power back in our hands.  It calls on us to take some kind of action and prevents stagnation.

    Shame, guilt and embarrassment teach us it may be time to look inward.  Yes, they're uncomfortable feelings because looking clearly at oneself is inherently uncomfortable.  These are feelings that are often the result of us doing something we shouldn't have done.  Without these feelings, who would ever learn from their mistakes?

   So maybe it's time to embrace your emotions and take the time to hear what they're trying to teach you.  Maybe it's time to forgive yourself for feeling what humans are supposed to feel?

1 comment:

  1. One of the first things I learned when I got divorced years ago was to give myself a finite period of time to feel bad. In my case, 3 months. I put it on my calendar and set a reminder every day that I had one less day left. It really did work and it forced me to actually take steps much sooner toward feeling good again.