We’ve been taught to categorize feelings. Anger is bad. Happiness is good. So on and so forth. Understandably, we do not want to feel angry or stressed so we associate those feelings as bad. We want to feel happiness and love so we associate those feelings as good. While this sounds logical, in reality, feelings are really just subjective. They aren’t good or bad unless we assign that categorization.
Instead of categorizing feelings we need to acknowledge them for what they are and reflect on the best way to utilize them. Feelings are our response to a certain circumstance or situation. The feelings we acknowledge teach us a lot about how we interpret and interact with the world. Different people acknowledge different feelings in response to the same situation. The feelings we acknowledge are caused by previous experiences, our unique personalities and other factors.
When we reflect on our feelings we get a deeper level of understanding as to who we are. That deeper level of understanding directly results in the ability to better work through our feelings (and towards a positive outcome). Working through our feelings directly results in us relieving any inner turmoil that may arise due to invalidation. Validating our feelings and working through them will bring us inner peace which will lead to a reduction in stress and an increase in happiness.
Sometimes we need to acknowledge feelings of anger to realize what will make us happy. Sometimes we need to acknowledge feelings of stressed to realize what is not working well. Similarly, when we acknowledge happiness we can assess what is going right and how we can continue in that direction.
We will not get the benefit of reflecting on our feelings if we are busy categorizing them. When we see something as bad we try to push it away. Instead of using our energy to push feelings away we need to allow ourselves to feel and acknowledge them without bias. For instance, if we reflect on why we are acknowledging feelings of anger we may uncover an injustice and work towards making things better. Acknowledging feelings of stress could show us that we need to incorporate a new perspective, or remove a cause of stress from our life.
Remember, it is not having the feelings that matters, it is what we do with the feelings that count. So next time you are feeling a little off try to resist the urge to label your feelings. Acknowledge that you are feeling them and try to figure out why. Then, work on those feelings with a clearer mind.