I’ve always been a positive person. I’m that annoying woman who can always find the silver lining to the darkest rain cloud, the goodness in the rudest people and the helpful lesson in every challenge. But recently, I’ve discovered that being positive all the time can actually end up being detrimental. So I’m writing this blog post in the hope that whoever is reading this can let go of the need to always be positive and instead, allow themselves to actually feel.
There’s a lot of pressure to be happy, positive and optimistic, and it’s easy to see why. Who doesn’t want to feel happy and content every single day of their lives? If given the choice of a happy, care-free day or a day of sadness and anger, you would obviously choose the pleasant one. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that unpleasant emotions are just as valid and important as pleasant ones.
Sadness, anger, loneliness, frustration, irritability, nervousness, anxiousness, guilt and embarrassment are all valid and important emotions. But instead of allowing ourselves to simply feel these things and accept them as part of the broad spectrum of human emotion, we try to ignore them. We try to supress these emotions and force ourselves to be happy by trying to think positive and over-analyse why we’re feeling unhappy.
I’ve recently learned that it is really important to allow yourself to actually feel these things without judging yourself or forcing yourself to alter your mood. Sometimes, it is perfectly fine to have a rubbish day where your mood is low and you can’t be bothered to get anything done. Sometimes it is perfectly fine to feel angry towards someone when you feel they have hurt you, even if the event was a few hours ago. Sometimes it is perfectly fine to feel nervous about an upcoming event, even if it is a few days away. Sitting with an unpleasant emotion and doing nothing about it not only allows you to truly feel something, but it also tells you a lot about yourself. From my experience, suppressed emotions have a way of coming back to haunt you.
For years I would gloss over these emotions by turning to food, and that eventually led to depression and anxiety that I’m still trying to shift. Maybe if I had allowed myself to just experience sadness without analysing it and trying to lift my mood when I wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t have fallen so far.
So please, respect your emotions and allow yourself to feel them without judgement. Allow yourself to be sad if you’re sad and you might learn something new about yourself. Stop chasing happiness because happiness isn’t a destination, it is just one of the many feelings we get to experience, and that’s what makes our lives so rich.
*Obviously this doesn’t apply if you’re currently suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental health problem where your moods are impacted. I would never suggest that someone with depression needs to sit with their low mood all day every day. If you are feeling unpleasant emotions on more than half the days in a week then I would recommend speaking to your doctor.*
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