The importance of recognizing our emotions.


Accepting negative emotions is a sign of emotional well-being.

Yes. Although I’ve written about this before, it’s worth repeating: recognizing and expressing –in the best way we can– our emotions is fundamental to our well-being.

Happiness is usually easy to recognize, and being socially celebrated, it’s also easy to express in most cases. Therefore, let’s put it aside for now. Today, I’d like to talk especially about other types of emotions: sadness, fear, and anger.

Absolutely all of us have experienced these emotions. It’s simply natural. So, why can it become so difficult to recognize and admit that we feel them?

First, because feeling sadness, fear or anger (or all of the above) puts us in a position of vulnerability, and admitting that we are vulnerable beings, can be a difficult task. It confronts us with dark parts of our own mind and causes discomfort. This discomfort is not only mental, it also leads us to feel physically bad. However, feeling the so-called negative emotions is totally valid. Recognizing that we’re angry or sad can lead us to take action and change our situation more easily than to try to deny what we feel. The denial of emotions leads to resentment, anxiety, physical discomfort, and a long etcetera.

All emotions are a source of information and can help us to know ourselves better.

Paying them the right amount of attention is like calibrating our inner compass. Feeling sad, afraid and/or angry is necessary. Recognize this and express it, it’s needed too. Which, of course, does not mean that we have to stagnate in our negative emotions or use them to play the role of the victim.

Quite the opposite: accepting these emotions will allow us to appropriate them and use them to our advantage.

There’s a book I really want to read, precisely because of how much I liked its title: “La gestión creativa del cabreo” (The creative management of anger), by Jaime Izquierdo Vallina. Here is a part of its description:

Many of the great geniuses who had revolutionary ideas or carried out transcendent discoveries, were in principle, and before going down in history for their contributions, angry characters who had to fight against the established. His advances would not have been possible without, first, having become angry and, second, having controlled that pissed-off energy, taming it, debugging it and using it as fuel to demonstrate the success of its postulates.

And I think that’s where the key to this whole thing lies. If we know how to use the energy of negative emotions either to create something or to know ourselves better, we will enter the field of emotional well-being.

Emotional well-being does not mean, as it may sometimes seem, to have a life without obstacles. Nor being an over the top optimist. It means giving us the space to live what we feel from a place of self-knowledge and sincerity.

Learning to identify and express our emotions, including negative ones, will promote our physical, mental and emotional well-being.