Instead of having two categories for our emotions, what if we approached them the same- as natural consequences of our felt experiences? why is there an urge to label them as positive or negative?
As humans we tend to judge our emotions based on how we feel. Judging adds to the discomfort of the emotion because the mind tends to label, analyze, compare to past experiences, or compare it to others and search for an explanation to make sense of it analytically.
You cannot think your way through emotions- if that method worked, most of us would feel light and at peace. Some people are very in touch with their feelings, and some have difficulties accessing them.
The life and phases of an emotion are roughly split into three parts:
First, brain registers an internal event, like a thought or an external one in your environment as essential. Next, the brain evaluates the event as either good or bad and ‘thinks’ of an appropriate action or response. Later, it tries to tell a story about the experience, which may or not be aligned with the objective reality of the situation. Most of us readily buy into stories of ‘painful’ experiences of guilt, shame, fear etc. We have thoughts like “I must be weak for feeling this,” “ nobody else I know is so sensitive,” or “ all these feelings are damaging my health,” etc. Such thoughts and outlooks come from how emotions were accepted/ not accepted in our childhoods. Were negative experiences in your home suppressed? Or made fun of? Were you called weak for crying? Take inventory of this kind of programming from your childhood:
Which emotions did your family freely express?
What ideas do you still retain from your experiences?
Issues arise when we tend to fuse with our thoughts and consider them as reality. Our emotions are designed to be messengers and convey our deeper needs or old traumas. These messages can be very beneficial if we listen. Some modalities say that a part of healing from emotions is taking the judging out of the equation and just feeling them for what they are- without labelling them as good or bad. Emotions just want to be felt.
What is coping? When emotions get too intense to feel, humans start to use short term strategies that are damaging in the long term. These simply help numb the depth of the emotion in the moment, and build within us over time. Such coping strategies can lead to various forms of addiction, whether it to be food, drugs, shopping and compulsions among other types.
A counsellor can guide and hold space for you to feel your emotions, especially when they are too big and scary to feel by yourself. The counsellor can help you defuse upsetting thoughts and reach the underlying messages your emotions are trying to convey.
With clinicians of many languages and backgrounds in convenient locations, we provide effective counselling services tailored to your unique situation.