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How to express negative emotions without shame, for good health

emotions
Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

In the novel Brave New World, people took soma to keep negative emotions at bay.

Written in the 1930s, the book prophesied the advent of anti-depressants like Prozac. Those medications designed to lift us out of debilitating depression and anxiety.

Over the years, society has become less tolerant of people expressing their feelings. Unless, of course, those feelings are joyful.

Books like The Secret have made us fearful of entertaining negative thoughts. Our thoughts dictate our reality, it warns. So, if we give into sadness, we risk bringing calamity upon ourselves.

Shame over expressing emotions

I’ve had many instances of shame directed my way when I expressed negative feelings. I’ve been called a downer and advised to focus on the positive instead.

But is that not asking someone to deny reality? We are lying to ourselves when we take such a Pollyanna approach to life.

As we’ve seen in other posts on this blog, refusing to tell the truth about our negative circumstances can manifest as disease in the body.

Like The Secret in reverse, your body takes on the burden of those untruths. And it could result in serious illness.

You might train your mind to lie to you through the power of positive thinking. But this refusal to face reality results in adverse effects like chronic illness in middle age.

Some women go straight from raising children to caring for elderly parents. With barely a chance to breathe in between.

They’ve let their needs go unmet and unspoken for a lifetime. Until their bodies finally say “enough”!

The exhaustion that accompanies chronic illness could be God’s way of forcing you to rest when you refuse to do so voluntarily.

So, how can we acknowledge our emotions and avoid the health risks that come with suppressing our unpleasant feelings? Here are 5 ways.

1. Journal your emotions.

Set aside regular time to write down your thoughts and feelings. This helps you process your emotions and bring them out into the open.

2. Schedule time alone to process emotions.

Often our busyness is a way to mask or avoid what we’re feeling. To acknowledge our feelings seems like something so monumental it could pull us under.

So we distract ourselves with the minutiae of life, cater to everyone else’s endless needs, and neglect our own.

Creating space in our schedules to simply sit and think is a step in the direction of self care. One that can save us much heartache (and body ache) in future. Click To Tweet

Creating space in our schedules to simply sit and think is a step in the direction of self care. One that can save us much heartache (and body ache) in future.

emotions

3. Meditate.

Mindfulness simply means creating space in your mind to let your thoughts roam freely.

Eastern meditation practices dictate not thinking at all, but I don’t put those chains on myself.

Instead, I practice something more akin to western meditation. This includes pondering a relevant Bible verse, using a guided app like Pause, or setting a timer and letting my mind wander.

Suppressed emotions come to the surface quickly when we stop our constant doing. Try not to fight them when they appear, but observe them and let them give you information.

Suppressed emotions come to the surface quickly when we stop our constant doing. Click To Tweet

4. Seek support to work through emotions.

I had to distance myself from “friends” who shamed me for having a range of emotions. I’ve learned who to trust with all my feelings. And who to avoid sharing my deepest thoughts with.

You might seek the support of a therapist to talk through some of your problems. And spending time in the presence of God, the great Counselor, will help you know you’re not alone.

5. Watch a movie.

Search up “films that make you cry” if you need help bringing your emotions to the surface.

Sometimes sharing in someone else’s pain, even a character in a film, can help us get in touch with our own.

A good cry can be cathartic, and a tear-jerker film will help you get those feelings into the open where they belong.

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