Today may be a good day or a bad one. Whatever kind of day, moment, hour, minute this may be for you. It’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling right now.
Not only is it okay, it is essential. You are human and humans have well — feelings. A lot of them! Our moods, energies, interactions, social medias, work flow, deadlines family and friends, remind us that every single day WE ARE FEELING. And these “feelings” aren’t always positive. Falsifying that they all were positive would actually drive us insane and make us sick — literally.
Faking the funk and having a “good vibes only” mentally is exhausting to upkeep. Striving to arrive at perfection is some gnarly destination that we’ve been told we need to go — and with a smile. Experts say it’s time to ditch this so-called “toxic positivity” and we agree.
However, for some of us having a positive mindset is a natural state of being and that’s awesome! However, it’s when we deny and mask any feelings that are not “positive” and skip over the coping, healing, grieving, self-loving part that can really impact our mental health.
“While cultivating a positive mind-set is a powerful coping mechanism, toxic positivity stems from the idea that the best or only way to cope with a bad situation is to put a positive spin on it and not dwell on the negative,” said Natalie Dattilo, a clinical health psychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. (1)
Emotions rise and fall and it’s when we prevent ourselves from feeling a certain one or experiencing an uncomfortable emotion, that we could be doing a lot more harm than good to our overall mental and physical health.
According to Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, a licensed clinical psychologist and trained cognitive behavior therapist, “When we pretend that emotional pain doesn’t exist, we send a message to our brain that whatever the emotion is, it is in some way bad or dangerous. If our brain believes we are in a dangerous situation, our body will respond as such. For example, we may experience rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, and a natural need to unnecessarily avoid the misperceived dangerous situation. When we avoid any kind of emotional discomfort, even physical pain, we end up unintentionally making those feelings larger, louder, and more overwhelming. If you don’t confront or process emotions in an effective and timely manner, the science shows that it can lead to a myriad of psychological difficulties including disrupted sleep, increased substance abuse, risk of an acute stress response, anxiety, depression, and even post traumatic stress disorder.” (2)
Not every emotion is permanent. Anger and sadness, happiness and joy, come and they go. As they shift our energy and move through our bodies it is essential to feel them and let others ride the wave of whatever emotions they’re feeling too. It really is okay.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your mental health or seek healthy ways to experience your emotions this blog post has some powerful options: 5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in 2021