While it is uncomfortable to experience them, learning to accept negative emotions can be very beneficial to your health and well-being.
It is not pleasant to experience negative emotions. In fact, it can be quite painful, especially if you think your brain is designed to seek joy and avoid pain. That is why accepting negative emotions can be so complicated. However difficult as it may be, it can positively affect your well-being.
People tend to suppress negative emotions like fear, sadness or anger. The problem is that suppressing these emotions can have harmful, long-term physical and mental consequences.
Avoiding or rejecting emotions does not make them go away. In fact, the opposite is true. Whenever you try to ignore them, they tend to build up and cause greater suffering.
Thus, managing your negative emotions in a constructive way can help you develop. This process makes it possible to achieve your goals, form healthier relationships with others and get to know you better. Let’s dive a little deeper into this.
To accept negative emotions without prejudice
Anger, fear and sadness are emotions that most of us experience on a regular basis. Just as they tell you something about yourself and your needs, they also tend to cause stress and anxiety if you do not handle them properly. Therefore, people tend to choose to avoid them, or ignore them most of the time.
The truth is that negative emotions can be healthy. In fact, dealing with these feelings without denying them or judging them can be far better than ignoring them.
It is difficult to learn to deal with and accept negative emotions. After all, it’s about analyzing them and reflecting on what they’re trying to tell you. This does not mean you have to let them take over. Instead, it means you have to pay attention to them and understand how you feel the way you feel.
Dealing with negative emotions means keeping them under control without denying what you are feeling.
The difference between acceptance and suffering
It is important to be aware of the difference between accepting negative emotions that cause suffering and self-imposed suffering.
Acceptance is closely linked to balance. Achieving balance is difficult in the western world as there is a lot of pressure to be happy all the time. This is an unrealistic expectation that can affect your psychological well-being. Thus, the ultimate goal is to find a balance between positivity and negativity as it can restore satisfaction in your life.
However, this is a process that takes time and work. It is not easy to accept negative emotions. Like any other cognitive habit, it is a skill that you can develop and do perfectly with time and practice.
Strategies for managing negative emotions
Experts have developed various strategies for treating and accepting negative emotions. TEARS HOPE is especially one that Ceri Sims refers to in her research and has become quite popular.
- T – Teach and learn. This strategy involves working with self-awareness and learning about your body and mind and how they respond to various emotional states. This makes it easier to understand when you are angry and why. It also makes it easier to interpret the signs your body sends to your brain.
- E – Express and activate sensory and embodied experiences. This technique involves encouraging inner openness and curiosity to increase acceptance of what is happening in your daily life.
- A – Accept and get to know new friends. You need to increase your self-compassion and work on being more tolerant of frustration.
- R – Re-appraise and re-frame. This technique consists of learning to see things differently. Cognitive behavioral exercises are perfect for this strategy.
- S – Social support. You need to work on feeling more connected to other people, and more compassionate towards yourself. Investing time and energy in your relationships is also important. Meditation and mindfulness can be very helpful here.
- Hedonic well-being / happiness. Research on the subject shows that maintaining a 3: 1 relationship between positive and negative emotions can be beneficial. This means that it is important to have positive experiences every day. You should focus on happy memories and enjoy your success. It helps increase the time you spend with a positive mental state, which compensates for negative emotions.
- O – Observe and attend to. This technique focuses on practicing mindfulness and not giving so much attention to things that are not so important.
- P – Physiology and behavioral changes. It is productive and beneficial to concentrate on relaxation, breathing exercises and self-care.
- Eudaimonia. This last element involves feelings of authenticity, and fighting for personal goals in your life.
Accepting negative emotions makes you feel better
Most healthcare professionals agree that accepting negative emotions without judgment is one of the best ways to improve your psychological well-being. Therefore, most psychologists recommend learning to deal with them.
Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, explains that people who accept their negative emotions tend to experience fewer of them. It leads to better psychological health.
Furthermore, research suggests that people who are less disturbed by their negative emotions tend to report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction than those who feel bad about feeling bad.
As you can see, accepting and working on negative emotions is crucial to your mental health and well-being.