Why you should stop undervaluing your ‘negative’ emotions

Do you know the feeling when you have so much to do and there is little time left to do it. Your shoulders and neck start feeling tense, your thoughts are racing, your focus is all over the place and the stress starts kicking in. Now you are also stressing about the stress and that is not helping.

Another similar situation might be when you are driving down the highway in your car, listening to a good tune, enjoying the ride, and all of a sudden a maniac cuts you off and you feel a sense of anger inside. You feel like getting mad and screaming at that person, even though they will never hear you. Afterwards you might feel regret of getting angry, and maybe even disappointed. Why give someone else the power over my vibe? Why let someone else decide how I’ll feel?

Both examples are very common and address the same thing, namely, you feeling a type of way about a physical reaction that you experience. Many of us don’t like it when we get stressed or angry. Some of us even start to feel bad about the fact that they feel stressed or angry.

Why devalue a part of yourself? It is fine not wanting your emotions to get the best of you. It is fine not to react with anger, and to give yourself time to think your reaction through. However, if you get sad or angry at the fact that you were angry, than you are not fully accepting who you are and how you are wired.

Think of emotions as bodily reactions with a function. Let’s take the car situation as an example to work with. So a maniac crosses in front of you and you get angry. First, what is going on inside of you. Something external (the person crossing in front of you) happens and that made you angry. Why is that so?

Maybe it is because it was dangerous and you felt that you had to protect yourself (if you are walking in the jungle and you encounter a dangerous being, this emotion might help to get you into action). It might also be the case that you got angry because you felt disrespected and that person made you feel like you didn’t matter. Getting angry is a way of standing up for yourself.

There are many explanations for how our bodies tick, and you might want to analyse your own emotions to understand them better. Accepting them is key in this process. Especially if you don’t want to react impulsively.

If you are trying to feel less stressed or angry, or any other emotion, then the first step is acceptance. Whilst being in the process of changing how you act and respond, yet still experiencing these emotions, don’t feel bad for experiencing them, but feel grateful for being aware that you are experiencing them.

Here is something I like to do:

  • Breathe. Try to breathe deeply through your stomach and let the air go through your mouth. One or two (or how many you’d like) breaths always help me to become present again and not let me get dragged away by circumstances, thoughts, or in this case emotions.
  • Become aware. What has happened? How are you responding? What thoughts are going through your mind? Are there any thoughts at all? How are you feeling? Merely observe what is going on without giving it any judgement. This part is to take back control by becoming conscious of the situation.
  • Acceptance. I kind off mentioned this already, but it is important and that is why I want to mention it again. Once you become aware of what is going on inside you and in your environment, begin to accept the situation. Acceptance does not mean that you can’t do anything about it. Acceptance means that you will see things for what they are, merely observing them without judgement. A car cutting you off on the highway is just a car cutting you off. You don’t have to think about what it means.  
  • Authenticity. By doing the process in the sequence that I just mentioned you will allow yourself to (re)act how YOU want to react. You have the control to do and say what you want. If it is getting angry, then that is completely fine. If you decide to let it go and remain calm, then that is OK. Personally I find it of most important that people have the capacity to behave how they would like.

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