By nature, most of us are judgmental with our emotions — especially the difficult ones:

  • You feel anxious and afraid and then immediately criticize yourself for being weak.
  • You feel sad and instantly start worrying about getting depressed.
  • You feel frustrated and angry and then beat yourself up for not keeping your cool.

This is understandable if you grew up being taught that it’s not okay to show — or even feel — strong emotion. It also makes sense because, in a crude way, we tend to assume that when something’s painful, it should be fixed or avoided.

Just because something feels bad doesn’t mean it is bad. In much of life, pain is actually a good thing: When your finger feels pain after touching a hot stove, that pain is helping you move your hand and avoid a serious burn.

When you get in the habit of running away from or trying to “fix” painful emotions, you teach your brain that your emotions are bad and dangerous.This means that the next time you feel bad, you’re going to feel bad about feeling bad because your brain thinks emotions are dangerous.

Instead of a judgmental and combative relationship with your emotions, strive to be curious about them instead. Rather than enemies to be avoided, try thinking about your emotions as friends to be consoled and understood.

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Divyansh Mahajan

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