When we are distressed one of the first thoughts we have is, ‘I don’t want to feel like this’ or ‘I want this feeling to go away’. A vast majority of people come to my office wanting to be rid of “negative” emotions. I have to disappoint them by telling them that it isn’t possible.
Emotions are not the problem
The emotions in themselves are seldom the problem. The way we perceive these emotions is where the problem lies (if we are calling it a problem). Our perception of emotions is shaped by many factors like, observing how our parent expressed emotions, which emotions were accepted and which curbed or even rejected, then there are societal expectations placed upon how we emote, the sort of moral significance we place on certain emotions can also make it hard for us to accept these emotions.
Emotions are simply our reactions to the situations which are personally significant to us.
Resistance is Futile
So, let’s say that someone you were romantically involved with decided that they do not wish to continue or take the relationship forward and break it up. You were invested and wanted to take it forward. How are you supposed to feel? Which emotions are acceptable? …sadness, hurt, slight anger, perhaps even confused because you thought it was going well. So, why is it that when we are in this situation that we “don’t” want this feeling? Why not? This is normal natural reaction to a situation which is personally significant for you.
Acceptance is Key
The best way to deal with the thought of, ‘I don’t want to feel like this’ is to challenge that thought and ask yourself “why?”. All these feelings might be uncomfortable and that’s okay. Most of the times when we find ourselves having difficult experiences they lead to uncomfortable emotions and most of the times these emotions are temporary and they pass.
They are your emotions, they belong to you. The more you reject them the longer they will stay.
Learn to identify what you are feeling, give them a name. Learn to just sit with that emotion for a little while let it exist with you, they are your emotions they belong to you. The more you reject them the longer they will stay.
Validate & Accept
Sometimes we need to talk to ourselves and say compassionate words of validation.
"I feel _______ and it is okay. It will pass"
It is easier said than done, seek help from a mental health professional if it is difficult for you to accept your emotions or if your emotions are intense and unbearably overwhelming. Talk to people you trust and confide in about how you are feeling. Ask yourself, ‘what will I say to my friend who was rejecting their feelings?’. Find self-compassion and validate your feelings.