Understanding Negative Emotions
As therapists, we encourage positive self-talk
We encourage doing things that make you happy, and becoming your most authentic self. While all of these things are wonderful, we also need to address the other side of things; Negative emotions happen even when we are doing well in our mental health journey. When we are feeling happy, content, or excited, that is usually seen as good. Being angry, sad, or disappointed is seen as bad. When we feel “bad” emotions, we often feel like we must change the feeling as quickly as possible. What this can also look like, is thinking that feeling these negative emotions is a lack of therapeutic progress.
Sadness vs. Depression
Everyone feels sad sometimes. Sadness is a normal, healthy human emotion. We feel sad when we lose someone, when someone we love is going through a hard time, or when we are disappointed. We feel sadness when less significant things happen too- our favorite restaurant is closed, or it rains on a day we plan to be outside. Depression is not the same. It is a diagnostic term that means someone is feeling a combination of different symptoms that get in the way of normal, everyday functioning. Depression is sometimes used in place of sadness, but, in a clinical setting, these words are completely different. Sadness can be an aspect of depression, but both can exist on their own.
But how can “bad” emotions be helpful?
Here are some ways in which we need negative emotions to function
- Fear lets us know that something is wrong.
When we feel scared, this is our body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong. We can use this feeling to get out of a situation that is unsafe or unhealthy.
- Loss shows us we had a connection.
When we feel loss, or like we are missing a person, this tells us that we had a connection with that person. This also allows us to understand when we feel connected to someone, as we feel more fear about losing that person
- Worry helps us to do things we need to do
When we feel worried, or anxious, this tells us that we need to do something. If we are worried about hurting someone’s feelings, we are motivated to be kinder to that person. If we are worried about failing a test, we are motivated to study.
- Anger helps us speak up
When we are angry, this shows us that something should change. This can be that another person upset you, that you did not get your needs met, or that something is not going the way you need or want it to.
As a human being, you will experience a variety of emotions throughout your life. You are allowed to feel your feelings, whatever they are.
Negative emotions, like positive emotions, can sometimes be inappropriate for the situation.
Sometimes we get angry when we haven’t been wronged, or when someone is doing the best that they can. Sometimes, anxiety can happen even when we don’t need to do something. Sadness can feel overwhelming and can happen when we don’t know what it is we are sad about.
These are the times when it is important to talk to someone about your feelings. All feelings are ok. Feeling negative emotions does not mean you aren’t making progress. You do not need permission to feel your feelings.
Do you feel like you want to get to know your feelings better? Are you struggling to understand if your emotional response is appropriate? Therapy is the perfect way to increase your understanding of yourself. Give us a call today at 217-203-2008 or email us and start promoting peace from within.
Read more blogs by Emily Beck: https://champaigncounseling.com/emily-beck-lcsw/
September 30, 2022