Everything has its place, right? A book belongs to a shelf, coffee in a cup, flowers in the garden. Similarly, doctors belong in a clinic, chairs are to be tucked neatly beneath tables, and knobs attached beautifully onto a door. Emotions also have their own homes: the cries of babies in labour rooms, laughter emerging out of silly dances, confidence oozing out the straight spines as feet pace.
But where do negative emotions belong to?
Frustration, envy, sadness, anger—we’re all guilty of it. Nobody is exempt from emotions, and definitely not those we deem as negative. No matter how much we dislike those emotions and choose not to address them, though, we do have them but often spend more time condemning our own bad traits instead of dealing with it.
How do we deal with it, though? “Let them out” seems like the obvious answer, but none of us really prescribe to our own advice and thoughts. A person showing signs frustration needs to go for anger management sessions. Teardrops are a sign of weakness. Quicker, more furious steps are indicators of poor emotional control.
Oh, and don’t forget how we assign negative emotions to the two opposite spectrums of gender as well. A man is allowed to be authoritative and assert himself while it is acceptable for women to show their vulnerability by crying. Heaven forbid the emotions get switched around! That would be a disaster!
It’d be great if we can choose, wouldn’t it? If we’d not feel sadness or anger, but can instead persevere without thoughts of giving up looming over us. Or if instead of wasting a few precious hours letting off steam, we’d be better off using those hours to outsmart an obstacle. Sadly, we did not get a say in how these emotions come to us. It’s completely natural to come across feelings of jealousy, doubt, envy, fear. It’s important for us to acknowledge those feelings, and it’s just as crucial for us to have an outlet for it.
Where does Sadness belong in the huge mess that is emotions? Image courtesy of Disney.
Do we have the outlet to let those emotions out, though? Examples for dealing with those emotions can be the occasional drink or binge-watching, but is there any real scenario in which expressing your negative emotions is encouraged?
Personally, I don’t encounter a lot of situations where these emotions can be expressed healthily. More often than not, negativity is responded with backlash, resorting for the person experiencing those feelings having to suppress whatever it is they’re dealing with. Sharing a frustrating story is countered with a, “why are you even dwelling on this? You know better than that.”. A person crying is often responded with messages asking them to “cheer up”.
It’s not often that I hear someone saying, “Hey, that’s terrible, man. Tell me more about your bad day and we’ll figure it out together,” or “Cry it out. It’s okay. You don’t have to be ashamed of it.” Spending the day dealing with negative emotions might not be the ideal day, but I suspect it’s a lot healthier than pretending those emotions do not exist.
I am definitely guilty of deflecting negative emotions when they come, be it coming from myself or from the people around me. Next time I catch myself doing that, I’ll be sure to lean towards healthy emotional expression. It won’t be easy for anyone—especially not after a lifetime of “doing the grown up thing to control your emotions” and positive feedback from a society that supports just that. But, hey, baby steps count!
Blueaholic is listening to: Black Eyed Peas ft. The World – #WHEREISTHELOVE