In part one of this blog series, we talked about the importance of noticing our diverse positive emotional experiences (i.e., rather than noticing just happiness, also registering when you feel calm, focused, peaceful, etc), and how that can help increase your overall life satisfaction and health.
While that is an incredibly powerful tool, I wanted to be sure to talk about the flip side.
We as Americans are obsessed with happiness. The most well-meaning and intelligent people tout ways for you to find inner peace or “find your joy”, and while the message is well-intentioned, it can create a sense of wrongdoing when another emotion that isn’t as positive is present.
We are designed to feel a whole spectrum of emotion, and by paying attention to the emotions we’d prefer to feel, we certainly should not try to blunt, mute, or ignore the ones that are less comfortable. Anger, sadness, lack of direction, loneliness; the list goes on of the emotions that we often actively try to avoid.
By ignoring the presence of these emotions, we don’t make them go away – rather, they get shoved down or aside, to simmer, fester, and grow until they become too big to ignore.
Typically, if you allow a hard emotion to be felt when it comes up, it is less complex, less overwhelming, and is more often able to move through you without overtaking you completely. The key is often simply naming and experiencing the emotion for what it is, rather than trying to fix it or come up with an explanation for why you feel that way. Sometimes there is an explanation or a fix, and sometimes there isn’t – your emotion is valid either way and needs to be experienced.
The moral of the story is simple. Let yourself feel what you feel. Whether it is trying to be intentional in savoring the peaceful, calm, happy, joyful, and rewarding moments, or allowing yourself to cry, feel loneliness, or anger, get curious about your emotional experiences.
Written By: Molly Halbrooks