Are Feelings Good or Bad?
Many people label feelings (fear, anger, sadness) as bad or negative states and others (joy, excitement) as good or positive.
However feelings are neither good nor bad, feelings just are.
If we listen to our emotions and understand what they mean, then we can address them and their intensity will fade. But if we ignore what our emotions tell us, our feelings build up and may result in a display of destructive behavior. Emotions are part of your life and to deny them is to deny part of ourself.
I have seen clients who have discussed painful experiences from 15 to 20 years ago stating, “I thought I got over it, I guess I didn’t!” Truthfully, they may have gotten over the initial experience, but the feeling is still as powerful as time it was formed. As a result, these emotions resurface and we re-experience the emotion that was felt at some time in our past. Let’s take a man who had a bad first marriage. He may relieve an emotional experience of jealousy any time his wife mentions, “I might be late”. The anger he feels when hearing this statement in the present triggers his brain to search for a memory and recalls a feeling of jealousy from his first marriage. If the husband dwells on this feeling, he will become insecure, angry, and suspicious for no reason in the present.
We may think it would be good if we could feel perfectly happy at every moment of our lives. I talk with a lot of people who have anger, and they say, “Well, maybe we can get rid of anger.” But we have a word for animals that cannot feel anger, fear, and pain: The word is extinct and if you got rid of emotions, we wouldn’t be human. Part of what separates humans from other animals is to have emotions. Emotions may not make logical sense, but these reactions are an unavoidable part of life. We all have feelings, we have a heart, we are not the Tin-man.
If we can accept the idea that each emotion exists for a reason, then perhaps we can find value each time we have a feeling. Finding this value will allow us to understand our emotions and manage them in more adaptive ways.
Tags: Anger Management, Archive