Why Negative Emotions are Important
As I type these words it is New Years Eve. It is just after 11PM and I’m alone to ring in the new year. I’m not one to feel sorry for myself but it feels a bit grim. That being said, it could be far worse. Things have been more trialling for far better people in far worse situations. I am, and no doubt you are, quite lucky. But that doesn’t mean we should disregard how we’re feeling. Ignoring our emotions does more harm than good.
I’d be a liar if I told you that the year 2020 didn’t affect me. Of course it did. Spending so much time alone without deciding to is difficult. It takes a toll. Spending 22 hours a day in the same room is difficult. It’s monotonous. Watching people tear each other apart online is difficult. It’s stressful. Realising your most intimate flaws during a pandemic is difficult. It’s a hard pill. Finding a way to get through it all is difficult. It’s all difficult, but it’s all worthwhile.
I think we’re taught from a very young age that negative emotions are bad. Persistent negative emotions are, but negative emotions are meant to be felt. If they weren’t meant to be felt then they’d be an anomaly. They’d be something that happens to some people, not every person. Negative emotions are part of the human repertoire. You’re supposed to feel them.
We all feel negative emotions. Sadness, anger, anxiety, jealousy, shame. We frame them as unnatural, but they aren’t. We make ourselves bad for feeling these things, but why? You’ll rarely make yourself bad for feeling happy, or excited, or generous.
Plenty of things make me feel negative emotions. The way I behave sometimes makes me resent myself. An unfollow from a person I enjoy makes me feel sad. Throwaway comments that are horrible make me feel angry. Sometimes I feel like we’re conditioned to hide these feelings. If I feel these things then why should I hide them? They’re as real as anything else.
This post is essentially an ode to negative emotion. They’re not the scary monster under the bed. Sadness and anger and all the rest are as much apart of us as the rest of it is. You can’t be happy without knowing sadness. You can’t be calm without knowing anger. I think we’re told to forget that along the way. I think we’re made to believe that anything outside of happiness is wrong, and that’s incredibly sinister.
Embrace your sadness and your anger. Don’t wish to stay in those states but accept that you feel sad when that feeling comes knocking. You don’t get to escape it. When you ignore it, you’re simply knocking the can down the road. You have to feel the emotion eventually, and the more you put it off, the more intense it becomes.
Just some thoughts I’ve had. Be sound to yourself and be sound to others.