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Pushing away our emotions, especially the tricky ones, is anything but beneficial.
It’s a beautiful thing that we humans have a range of emotions and have the ability to connect with and acknowledge them. But for many different reasons, we tend to actively push them away.
I wouldn’t even be able to count the amount of times I’ve personally hidden my own pain, discomfort, and even fear to “save face.” I’m an independent woman, I have told myself; those emotions just pull me down.
And yet, emotion is life. When we push emotion away, we push life away.
It is okay to feel.
It’s just as okay to be sad, angry, and fearful, as it is to be happy, enthusiastic, and joyous.
Research is showing us, even in times of global turmoil like we are currently living, that when we acknowledge our true emotions, it actually benefits our overall happiness.
“I’m staying stoic and practical” is what one of my friends boasted to me not too long ago when they caught COVID-19 and it affected their travel plans to go back and visit their family for the first time since the pandemic hit. This comment hit me.
Being practical isn’t a bad thing, but why does practicality equal no emotion?
Being practical, in my opinion, should mean accepting the emotion you are feeling and letting that emotion then guide you to learn about yourself and then in turn find the best way to respond to the situation at hand. This practice is called integrative emotion regulation. Integrative emotion regulation happens when a person welcomes and accepts all emotions, even the more painful ones, learns from them, and subsequently learns how to act upon their emotions and takes that knowledge to then support themselves better in the future.
When we have little understanding of our emotions, this can cause emotional dysregulation, and can increase the chances our feelings overwhelm us. Suppressing our emotions tends to spur on more negativity and create vicious cycles.
Humans are beings of emotion, and happiness is not the only emotion that can be, or should be, acknowledged.
Living a positive, happy life isn’t about only aiming for happiness. The positivity we gain from truly connecting and communicating with ourselves will nurture, and more often than not lead to, happiness. That connection and understanding stems from allowing ourselves to be us, to feel, not from suppressing the perfectly natural range of emotions we can have.
It’s okay if you’re having a bad day.
It’s okay if you’re happy.
It’s okay if you’ve made a mistake.
It’s okay if you need to ask for some space.
It’s okay for you to feel loved.
It’s okay if you need to ask for help.
It’s okay for you to put yourself first.
It’s okay if you say no.
It’s okay if you say yes.
It’s okay if you need take a break.
We need to feel.
We need to feel so we can grow, so we can connect, so we can be be our best selves and live our best lives.
It’s okay not to be okay.