Those Pesky Negative Emotions
by Emma L. Van Dillen, M.Ed., LPC, CHC
February 20, 2017
The broad range of human emotions can be broken down into six basic emotions: anger, happiness, surprise, disgust, sadness, and fear.
While all emotions are inherent and natural, there is a perception in our society that some emotions are “negative”. Along with being labeled as “negative”, there is oftentimes a message that having these emotions are wrong, bad, or need to be fixed or eliminated. Even more damaging, there is the belief that there is something wrong with us for having such emotions.
The problem with this message or belief is that many situations in life call for us to experience “negative”, or uncomfortable, emotions. When we struggle with, judge, or try to control our natural emotions, we oftentimes add to our distress and cause more trouble for ourselves. When this happens, our focus shifts from experiencing our emotions to trying to control our emotions in some way.
The struggle becomes twofold. What if instead of trying to change the emotion, we focus on changing our relationship with the emotion. Do some emotions have to be viewed as negative? Can it just be okay to experience uncomfortable emotions?
Perhaps experiencing anxiety, letting sadness have it’s place, and allowing whatever else we are feeling to be present is all that is needed.
Once we are no longer resisting or fighting with our emotions, we are free to place our attention on who and what truly matters to us. We are able to focus on living a life that promotes meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.
And, that sounds much more valuable than trying to avoid those pesky “negative” emotions.
Emma is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Sandhill Counseling & Consultation. She works with adults and older adolescents. To reach Emma call 636-379-1779 ext. 1009 or email her at email@example.com