Last time, we talked about how feeling 'bad' can actually be GOOD for us. If you need a refresher, take a look here.
Feeling our emotions can be challenging, especially in intense moments. We might, for example, feel anxious because we are worried about the results of a test. We might be angry because we have a coworker who is trying to outshine us. We could be frustrated and hopeless because nothing seems to be going right at the present moment.
How on earth can these emotions be useful? What can we gleam from these moments and feelings?
Let's start with feelings in general. Feelings tell you that you are human. You are a living being, capable of emotions! The feelings may not always be comfortable or fully appropriate to the
situation, but you should not judge yourself for the way you feel. Rather, take
time to explore how and why you are feeling that way.
Why? When you observe your feelings and tolerate them, you are practicing distress tolerance and acceptance.You might not enjoy feeling worried about the test results, but sitting with the worry is teaching you that you are ABLE to survive this difficult time. It also helps you catch your thoughts - are you telling yourself that something terrible is going to happen? Are you imaging a bad outcome or scenario? If so, think about this: worrying is normal. But jumping ahead to the worst case is not helping you, nor will it change the outcome. Instead, recognize and accept the worry. And then do something else. Yes, the anxiety is there. But you are coping with it. And this situation, although uncomfortable, is showing you how strong you are. You are enduring intense emotions - and you are surviving. This leads to perseverance and resilience!
The same goes with anger, or frustration.Yes, it is so incredibly difficult when you feel that things are unfair. Or when you truly feel trapped - that life is simply not cooperating with you. Things seem a mess, and you feel caught in it all. You feel hopeless. How can that be useful? Well, consider this: experiencing several mishaps is not fun, so don't deny yourself the opportunity to mourn. However, realize that this period of your life, along with these emotions, shall pass. By embracing your emotions now and being compassionate on yourself, you will notice that the intensity of the feelings will slowly decrease. Today, you are at your end. But you somehow push through because deep inside (really deep down!), you know that you are able to get past this. Things WILL get better. The next day, you still may feel hopeless. But it is less intense as yesterday. And each day, it will be less frustrating. It might not go away completely, but allowing yourself to understand that emotions are healthy - and that you can still have these feelings but function nonetheless - indicates your fighting spirit. You can regulate your feelings, and you can handle these tough circumstances. You are strong. You are capable. You are a fighter.
Perhaps, then, rather than labeling emotions as 'good or bad', we just take them for what they are - our feelings in response to life events that are shaped by our thoughts, genetics, environment, circumstances, and more. Let's not judge our feelings; instead, let's try to acknowledge them, accept them, and carry on. In doing this, we will stop blaming ourselves for feeling a certain way. We will also train our bodies and brains to tolerate hard emotions, and this will decrease their intensity. We will learn to appreciate how resilient we are, and with each experience, we will become wiser, more resilient, and more confident in our ability to adapt and cope.
This is nor easy, but it comes with practice. Today, focus on one feeling you are experiencing. Don't label it - just accept that you are feeling this way. And know that if it is a challenging time, you are okay. You will be okay. You are not defined by your circumstances - and you will not only thrive, you will survive.