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Accepting your darkest emotions is the key to psychological health

https://qz.com/1034450/accepting-your-darkest-emotions-is-the-key-to-psychological-health/

qz.com

Accepting your darkest emotions is the key to psychological health
Rumi, the 13th-century Sufi poet, famously compared emotions-"a joy, a depression, a meanness"-to "unexpected visitors." His advice was to let them in laughing, but that's not what we do. Instead, we pretend not to notice, or even hide. We want to bury resentment and anger, or trade loneliness in for the more fashionable gratitude.

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Make room for your emotions

Make room for your emotions

Rumi, the 13th-century Sufi poet, compared emotions to unexpected visitors. 

We're supposed to let them in and not hide from them, suppress them or pretend they do not exist.

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Gaining peace of mind

In a society that promotes gratitude and positivity, there is pressure to suppress or conceal negative feelings.

But psychological studies reveal that acceptance of your negative feelings promotes emotional resilience, with fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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The magic of acceptance

Acceptance of negative emotions involves not trying to change how we feel but taking them for what they are.

Acceptance works because it blunts the emotional reactions to stressful events. In time, it can lead to positive psychological health.

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The urge to strive for happiness

Acceptance doesn't mean handing yourself over to a stressful, negative situation. We need to accept death, but we don't need to suffer through unfair treatment.

When we try only to think positively, we put ourselves in a striving state of mind, which is the opposite of calm contentment.

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Forced positivity

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Toxic positivity denies reality

Positivity makes people appear more well-adapted and popular with their peers.

The issue is not the people who are genuinely upbeat but when people are forced to appear positive in situations where it's not natural, like illness, homelessness, food insecurity, unemployment, or racial injustice.

Damaging effects of toxic positivity

Forcing positivity denies a very real sense of despair and hopelessness and alienates those who are struggling.

Internalizing these messages can also be damaging. We judge ourselves for feeling negative and then feel bad for feeling bad. It postpones any healing or move toward problem-solving.

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Sadness as a Person

A study found that people feel less sad if the feeling of sadness is personified, as it leads to a certain distance between the person and the emotion.

Detached from Sadness

By imagining that Sadness is a person, the sad person becomes detached from his/her sadness.

They can picture the sadness to have human traits or mannerisms, leading to an internal regulation of that particular emotion.

Not for the other Emotions

While this approach of humanizing the emotion appears to work for sadness, it can make a happy person less happy, if that feeling is humanized.

Other complex emotions like guilt and embarrassment may have any kind of effect and are yet to be studied. 

Emotions

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Feelings

Feelings are preceded by emotions and tend to be our reactions to them. Emotions are a more generalized experience across humans, but feelings are more subjective and influenced by our personal experiences and interpretations, thus they are harder to measure.

Negative Emotions

They can be defined as unpleasant or unhappy emotions evoked in individuals to express a negative effect towards something.

Although some are labeled negative, all emotions are normal to the human experience. And it’s important to understand when and why negative emotions might arise, and develop positive behaviors to address them.