Alison Cook on the Hidden Reason Why Negative Emotions Are Helpful

There is a powerful hidden reason negative emotions are helpful.

Imagine yourself as a child. When you’re hungry, you cry and someone feeds you a nutritious meal. Or when you fall and hurt yourself, you scream and someone runs to your side, lovingly trying to help.

As you grow older, negative experiences occur, such as a friend turns on you and gets other kids to turn on you, too. You feel awful, so you tell an adult that you feel bad. Their wisdom helps you understand that something bad DID happen and that your emotions aren’t wrong. Your feelings are meant to show you how you to take appropriate action to stand up for yourself.

When a caring person guides you through a tough situation, you learn to recognize an unpleasant feeling. You pay attention to your negative emotions, because you understand they are key to your growth. In other words, they help you detect basic needs and warn you of boundary violations. Thus, negative emotions aren’t to be avoided. In fact, they help lead you toward healthy self-care and wise decision making.

But, what if you never learned the value of your negative emotions?

For instance, what if you cried as a child but no one paid attention? What if you got bullied at school, but came home to an empty house with no one to offer compassion? Maybe a misguided adult even told you, “It’s all YOUR fault.”

In that case, you might assume your broken heart is a burden that you must shoulder alone. You might tell yourself, “Heartache is silly—who really cares?” or “Get over it! Life is hard, so just deal with it.”

The problem is that ignoring your negative emotions doesn’t make them go away.

Instead, they will just get lodged even more deeply inside of you. If no one taught you how to understand your negative emotions, one of two things likely happened:

1.) You learned to numb them with food, entertainment, substances, or overworking.

2.) You developed strong protectors such as armoring up with angry, critical views of other people.

Those coping tactics helped you survive as a kid. But they are not serving you now. They keep you from forging strong, healthy connections with others. And, they keep you from healing the pain that’s lodged deep inside of you.

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Source: Church Leaders