Let your feelings show

Accept your negative emotions, without letting them overpower you

Don't keep your negative emotions out.

Let those dark emotions creep in, no harm! Allow those ‘unexpected visitors’, as the poet Rumi addresses them, and welcome them with grace. Oh, that uncomfortable feeling is out to get me…That feeling of sadness, fear, shame, etc. Why me? That is our first reaction towards rejecting squirmy negative feelings. “I don’t want to own this awful feeling,” is what we all say to ourselves. Then we do something to try to get rid of the feeling, by using minor distractions like partying, drinking or listening to music to cope with them.

We do have a right to feel better. Who likes to walk around feeling like Devdas all the time? But the irony is that when we reject our negative emotions, they may actually become worse and make things go downhill.

Emotions are like informants and they give us helpful updates about the world around us. Getting rid of or suppressing an emotion makes it bounce back all the more. Emotions want to be heard as they are a part of you. The more you try to negate them, the bigger they get.

Don’t resign yourself to pain

Nobody said you have to feel terrible all the time or wallow in pain. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you leech onto painful emotions and let them get the better of you. Trying to push yourself to experience emotional pain on purpose is self-destructive. That’s not what are aiming for.

So what does acceptance entail? You gotta be aware of your emotions. Accept them for what they are right now without labelling them. Know that they won’t last even though they seem to overstay for a while.

Imagine you are a soldier on the battlefield who has fought enough with your emotions and it is time for a truce. Lay down your weapons and walk away from the fight. It’s not about being beaten or swept away by emotions, it is just about letting go of the struggle.

In some ways, accepting emotions also means acknowledging the fact that they will change. Emotions are prone to change as well just like us. When we are happy, although we want the feeling to last, it is a fact that happiness comes with an expiry date. This goes for every type of emotion, from overwhelming ones like depression to obsessive ones like love or anger.

Feelings are fleeting, just that we don’t see them as such. It’s our reaction to them that makes them seem never-ending. But you don’t get to decide when they should go. Sometimes they take days, it doesn’t matter. Live through it, don’t resist. The more you try to surge above the wave, it hits you harder than expected.

Emotions exist for a reason. Just like seasons, which are necessary for crops to grow, flourish, emotions too come and go. Too much of rain causes a flood, too many sunny days lead to dryness. Similarly, happiness causes boredom if it’s not complemented by some intense emotion like sadness. Happiness is elusive if it doesn’t see the darker side of life. Being happy, despite the myriad emotions that pull us down, is what actually gives the emotion its weight.

Uncomfortable emotions are like windows that help you glance through the rain and enjoy its beauty without having to get drenched. If you allow yourself to be exposed to such discomfort, you can grow as a person. Open the window of emotions to allow your soul to get ventilated. Else it’s a pressure to be always sane and positive.

Avoid cultural pressure

Cast light on those emotions, listen to their wailing. Who doesn’t want to trade loneliness or feelings of despair for gratitude? What’s all this cultural pressure to stay positive all the time? I, personally, cannot tolerate the pressure to suppress all the negative feelings and camouflage unpleasant emotions.

Several psychologists have said that acceptance of one’s dark emotions cultivates better emotional resilience, and one sees lesser symptoms of depression and anxiety.

You don’t need to have a broadly detached attitude. Accepting these emotions sets you free and they don’t amplify the emotional experience. On the contrary, they make you realise that life in all its entirety exists with polarities.

Whether it’s an intense life event or a minor inconvenience, acknowledging your emotions makes them go away.

Existential psychologist Rollo May says that one need not look pathological solutions for unpleasant emotions and it’s not something to be fixed. It’s part of the psychological growth and a natural process which aids in developing a wholesome personality.

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