Do you feel sad, angry, critical, or worried? The good news is that it’s alright. You have to be strong to face your darkest emotions and it’s really important for your mental health.
It’s important for you to face your darkest emotions because it provides space to heal them, and therefore, be happy, researchers say. Remember that an emotion isn’t simply a noun, there’s much more to it.
The truth is that life isn’t always good. It seems logical to try to avoid our most negative emotions and memories in favor of the best ones. However, those dark emotions and unpleasant memories have been a part of us, of our past.
In fact, our body can store our darkest emotions as places of suffering. And by facing them, both physical and psychological pain will end. That is, knowing and managing hidden and suppressed negative emotions like hatred, anger, or resentment may ease up physical pain.
Based on the latest research, for a person to be truly happy, they must accept their darkest emotions and must understand that life isn’t always a bed of roses.
3 ways to control emotions
A study published in the Australian Journal of Psychology analyzes how to face your darkest emotions and how to manage them. The researchers found three ways to helps us manage them: acceptance, cognitive distancing, and cognitive change.
- Acceptance techniques may help people understand their emotions and their physical and cognitive sensations. Acceptance is the first step to learning how to manage them.
- Cognitive distancing is achieved by seeing things from a different point of view. For example, observing events as a storyteller would make you, in other words, the third party.
- The technique of cognitive change uses a bit of self-pity. For example, imagining talking to a caring person of your darkest thoughts and feelings. You may use an imaginary listener to talk to and remind you of your own strengths and coping abilities.
How to face your darkest emotions
When we reject or consider our emotional state unacceptable, what we’re doing is denying a part of ourselves. In other words, we prefer not to tackle what has caused so much pain, so we block it out. What we’ve forgotten is that a part of our identity is gone.
Therefore, even though we may not control our feelings when we’re ashamed, we can accept them. However, if it makes us feel bad, what we do is dissociate ourselves from that emotion so we don’t experience it again. But, as we mentioned before, the denial of our negative emotions keeps us from being happy.
“An emotion does not cause pain. The resistance or suppression of an emotion causes pain.”
In this sense, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley studied the hypothesis that the acceptance of our darkest emotions is related to better mental health. The reason for this is that acceptance helps keep us from reacting against negative psychological experiences.
Therefore, the acceptance of negative emotional conditions keeps us from labeling them as such since we accept them as they are and we don’t judge them as good or bad. In this way, we reduce the negative associations we have with those emotions and our psychological health will improve.
People who are happy can accept their emotions and thoughts without judging them. In other words, they are able to recognize what their emotions are and the feelings that go with them. However, they don’t act impulsively on them. They recognize their anger, fears, and jealousies, as well as their resentment and frustration. But instead of letting them take over, they accept them.
As we can see, the acceptance of our dark emotions doesn’t make us bad people. Rather, it gives us clues about ourselves. In fact, it’s impossible to do so if we only consider our positive emotions since even our shadows are part of us. We need to accept everything.
“It is impossible to avoid negative emotions altogether because to live is to experience setbacks and conflicts”