Emotions are part of being human and are essential for health and well-being.
They create the light and shade in our lives that give it meaning and enable us to respond to our world. Our emotional responses allow us to connect with other humans through understanding and empathy.
‘Negative’ emotions can be challenging but, when acknowledged, can become friendly guides to help navigate through difficult patches. For example, anger can be a way of noticing that a personal boundary has been crossed prompting you to act to right your world, anxiety can be a sign that something is important to you enabling you to prepare your best performance, and sadness can be an acknowledgement of a true loss leading to self-compassion.
Sometimes, however, emotions can be more intense than is healthy. Emotional responses that harbour extreme interpretations of the world can affect mental health. Reducing the intensity of emotions is often the aim of psychological therapy and there are many good treatments for keeping our thoughts realistic and our emotions balanced.
But the aim should never be to block or deny our emotional lives.
Today’s fast- paced world regularly discourages emotional honesty and can make us feel pressured to ignore, repress or lie about our true feelings in order to appear reliable and successful. But this is an unrealistic expectation for our closer relationships and many other aspects of our lives. Humans are not robots.
Assessing and accepting our emotions is important. In fact, it can be an essential step towards reducing their intensity or putting the energy required to stifle them to better use. It is often the path that leads us to connecting with our own values and with what’s truly important in our individual lives.
Wendy Roncolato & Prue Foster