Good & Bad Emotions?
If I was to ask you to sort these emotions into the categories of “good” or “bad”, would that be an easy task for you?
We might imagine yes, because we’re hardwired to consider emotions like anger, grief & envy as “bad”, but joy, compassion & empathy as “good”.
But is this really the case? Can emotions really be assigned a value like that?
The truth is that emotions do not inhabit the binary of negative or positive, but rather are like road signs pointing us to different parts and pieces of ourselves. Communicating vital information revealing our inner lives.
The emotions themselves aren’t good or bad, but our reactions to the emotions and what they lead us to do or say can be defined as such.
It’s what we do with the emotions we feel that leads to them being interpreted as bad.
How we lash out BECAUSE of our anger.
How we isolate BECAUSE of our sadness.
How we self sabotage BECAUSE of our shame.
It’s not the anger, the sadness or the shame that is bad.
Do they feel good? Absolutely not.
Are they uncomfortable and unsettling? Probably.
But, are they themselves inherently ‘wrong’? A categorial no.
If we were to acknowledge and process these emotions, naming them and directing them in healthy ways, they could instead guide us toward healthy alternatives.
Our anger may suggest we need to resolve our issues with others.
A sadness can lead us to take action towards greater self care or moving us to desire to change our life circumstances.
A pulsing shame can cause us to own and come to terms with the remorse we feel about the past.
These same emotions can propel us in a new direction.
But when we believe the narrative that some emotions are bad, choosing to bury the feelings, out of fear that they’re wrong or say something dark about ourselves, it’s like burying a bomb. They will stay alive, ticking away, silently waiting to reemerge and wreak havoc.
The best thing we can do when faced with the weight of emtoion is:
Name the emotions we’re feeling.
Acknowledge the impact they may be having on us.
Choose to focus that awareness to direct the feeling in a direction that is more positive for us.