As human beings we all have varied emotions and some of these we tend to say are negative.
Anxiety, shame, jealousy, anger and sadness are some of those feelings that society teaches us to label as bad or unacceptable leading us to think we should not be feeling anything but positive all the time! How many times have we been told: “You have no reason to be sad, be grateful! … Just let it go! … Get over it … Don’t be so negative! Don’t be silly, get on with it …” etc.
Some of us may try to be over-rational so that we do not allow our emotions to take over and avoid being seen as someone who over-reacts or cries all the time.
When we oppress our feelings we might actually be making them stronger because we are not allowing ourselves to experience our emotions enough for our mind to problem solve around them.
It is actually possible to let your mind work with your feelings, rather than against them.
Here are some examples below:
When we feel angry, it’s often because we have a sense that there has been an injustice.
Often however, this feeling is viewed as dangerous. However feeling angry does not have to mean behaving violently. Anger can be our instinct of signaling injustice. If we ask ourself, what is the injustice in this? And if it’s a real injustice, what can I do about it? This is a very health process that has led to marches, peaceful protests and social actions that have resulted in new more just legislation or the same health anger that can help us to have that conversation, be assertive and resolve a conflict or take important decisions.
Anxiety is actually one of our body’s natural reaction that signals danger and tells us that we have to fight or runaway. Although modern life for many of us does not present daily life threatening situations (like predators trying to hunt us), our body still carries this reaction.
So in a sense, our bodies and our minds didn’t evolve at the same rate. So what happens is that our brains just go into overthinking with anxiety.
So once again, focusing on suppressing the feeling can actually make the anxiety worse because our body wants us to do something about it! It therefore helps to listen to our bodies and ask yourself, what is this anxiety telling me? Is it inviting me to change in my life? What is it in me that is making me scared or that I feel the need to walk away from? It could be your body telling you to address a problem in a relationship or situation. It may be our body signaling that we need to slow down or to care for ourself.
Anxiety, can sometimes be that signal that invites us to consider what changes we need to make.
There are many other examples for these and other emotions like jealousy, guilt, shame and sadness that we help people work through in Counselling. Remember, the worst thing you can do with a negative emotion is to try and push it down as this will just make it come out stronger or explode at some point later on. This creates a vicious cycle because when they come out stronger we are even more afraid of them and try to suppress them even more … So if you are struggling with any of these emotions, reach out to them or reach out for help to safely discuss them with a professional.
Anthea D’Amico is a counsellor and supervisor at Willingness. She works both with children and adults. You can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or 79291817.