Acknowledging Sadness and Other Negative Emotions
There is no doubt about it – quite frequently you will feel negative emotion like sadness and loneliness. This is simply a fact of life. There is no way to exist in this world as a human being without experiencing emotions that are objectively not a good time. And this is actually fine. We’ve talked about the necessity of negative emotion before here.
What isn’t good is how we’re conditioned to understand negative emotion. For whatever reason, our society talks about negative emotion in hushed tones, behind closed doors, and avoids acknowledging their existence at all costs. What this has done to us over a number of decades is it has caused us to act as if we do not experience negative emotions – and this is fucked.
We live in a world now where – both online and offline – people are constantly acting. We pretend that we are always happy, that we are leading “our best lives” and that we never experience sadness or loneliness. Very few people share online when they are feeling negative emotion, but are eager to share the happy moments.
And overtime this conditions us all to believe that there is more value in happiness than anything else. It teaches us that feeling sadness or anger or regret or fear is dirty, and that we are failing if we ever feel any of these things.
So when we then eventually feel sadness or anger (Because you will at some point even if you don’t want to believe it) we also feel a level of shame or self-hatred because we have fallen into a pattern which society has labelled as bad. And now suddenly we’re in a position where we feel bad on two fronts. This only causes the spiral to worsen.
Whether we like to admit it or not, negative emotions are a part of our daily lives. Some days they feel more intense and this is when we need to do some work. Today, for example, I woke up feeling quite sad and lonely and I had the overwhelming urge to lay in bed all day and ignore the way I was feeling.
But this is exactly how you invite the feeling to stay for longer.
Instead I forced myself out of bed and forced myself to eat a good breakfast. I forced myself to walk around this city for a few hours. None of it was easy. That’s why I always say that real self-care is hard work rather than taking a day off.
And now here I am writing this piece for you. I don’t feel 100% yet but I do feel a lot better than I did earlier today. And this is primarily because I decided to acknowledge how I was feeling instead of running away from it. I chose to work for my mental health today rather than pretending there were no negative emotions.
If I can do that then so can you. Acknowledge your negative emotions and understand that they also have a role to play in your life.