All our emotions are equally valid! It's not all about being happy
Our culture is becoming more and more obsessed with the pursuit of happiness – being in the moment, the power of positivity, feeling content, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, smiling – but it may never happen! And I believe a lot of these messages and do practice yoga!
Life isn’t always like that. One emotion, joy, is not more important to acknowledge than the others, even though it feels nicer.
There are four core emotions - anger, joy, sadness and fear - and all are equally important in our life.
We all have our favourite go-to emotion which normally begins in our family of origin. We are labelled as hot headed, quick tempered, sensitive, a worrier, cautious, or happy go lucky.
There will be times in our life when we don’t feel like the labels we are given, like the person people expect or we perceive they need us to be. Challenges come our way which evoke other emotions which may not be as easy for us to express. People may expect you to get angry – but never sad – (big boys don’t cry). There’s nothing to be scared about. Good girls don’t shout and argue. Cheer up it may never happen.
Yet all the core emotions are just as valid, normal, appropriate and necessary to have. They all need recognising in us by ourselves and others in order to change.
It’s OK to feel sad and be able to say you do. Showing it and having someone hear you is the best way through it. Allowing yourself to feel sad without self-criticism will actually lessen the energy in the emotion.
It’s OK to be angry – it’s the most productive emotion. Used constructively it can be empowering to feel and have acknowledged. Anger can signal someone crossing a boundary, frustration when things are not right and most importantly, anger can maintain the integrity of our self.
It’s OK to be scared – no-one has been here before and new situations – like posting your first article, speaking in public – is scary! Voicing your scare will diffuse the feeling and checking this out with others will lessen the worry.
It’s OK to be joyful and to share your feelings of joy with others. Celebrate your happiness and contentment; it’s worth talking about just as much as when things are difficult. Like all the other three emotions this too will pass.
Without full experience of all our core emotions, happiness will not really be felt because the others will be competing for attention.
So be with it – feel what you feel in an authentic way. Sit with someone else, especially your children in their sadness, anger, fear and happiness and know that they are just being and experiencing being human in the world.
Therapist and mum
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About Lisa Armitage
I am passionate about Transactional Analysis, and my training in this area has confirmed that unexpressed emotion from childhood can hold us back from achieving potential as an adult. The feelings un-expressed, that were never allowed, were all valid and it is healing to be able to express them however many years later with a caring therapist.