For as long as I can remember, we have been indirectly taught by our social construction NOT to feel negative emotions. From a very young age, we get emotionally invalidated in so many ways until that becomes our norm. We get told not to cry or not to get angry, which teaches us to avoid unpleasant feelings at any cost. With continuous practice, following what we have been taught to be the right thing, we get programmed to send our negative emotions to the subconscious mind where they get manifested into other forms.
How does this avoidance translate when we grow up?
We grow up to suppress what we truly feel, especially when it comes to emotions that make us seem weak or not in control. However, these repressions lead us to escape through unhealthy behaviors such as over-drinking, binge eating, self-harming and even drug consumption. When we choose to repress our socially unaccepted feelings we develop psychosomatic illnesses such as fibromyalgia. This leads us to walk in the route of medical treatments and medications without realizing that the cause of the illness is unexposed emotions.
The good news is that our ‘negative’ emotions are not negative at all. This is just a label that our society has created to highlight that the feelings which make us feel uneasy are not good. But why would you want to feel something like pain, anger or sadness? Why would anyone want to go through a feeling that is unpleasant? Well, we waste so much time trying to push these feelings out of our line of vision, only to find ourselves being trapped and stuck. We become insecure and over sensitive about the same exact thing that triggered these negative feelings. We engage our inner critic in maladaptive ways to fulfill the denied feelings. For example, you get dumped by your ex and experience the pain of loss. Rather than facing it you choose to deny it, which pushes the feeling further into your subconscious psyche. What that means is that the feeling is not gone instead it got stuck in your subconscious mind. Your inner critic will find ways to validate this feeling that got frozen in time through thoughts of being unworthy. Hence, increasing your insecurity about yourself and future relationships.
What should you do to avoid getting trapped?
Self-compassion is the answer. When you allow yourself to fully experience the so called ‘negative emotions’ you will enable yourself to face these feelings and get over them. When you fully go through the experience, you break down the negativity and come out the other end stronger and sturdier. There is a reason why feelings like pain and sadness exist. This is our psyche’s way of telling us that something is not right. Bearing witness to these feelings in compassion and acceptance will open the door to true healing and liberation from the weight of this negativity.
We need to accept our emotions and understand why they are there in the first place. Fighting against them will only make them stronger. Therefore, it is wiser to respond to the emotional call and navigate our way through the feeling while remembering that not feeling OK is perfectly OK.