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5 Reasons to Stop Ignoring Negative Emotions

Photo by Arif Akhtar
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ll never forget the first time I allowed myself to say, “I hate him.” I discovered the feeling during my meditation time. Seeing it there in front of me made me realize I needed to stop pretending it wasn’t true.

My dearest friend heard it first.

“I hate him,” I said with a smile. Not exactly the hateful expression you’d expect, but it was the most liberating statement I’d ever made, and I was so happy about it!

Always before I’d tried to reconcile myself to his presence. To be the bigger person, and not harbor hate in my heart. But through all my striving, I hated him still, and I’d just been lying to myself about it.

So when I discovered my truth, I not only got to experience a piece of myself, but I was able to free my mind from his power.

We’ve all been told again and again about how to become happier, be more positive, create great habits and forgive.

A Missing Piece

These can be great approaches to improving our lives. In fact, I’ve used a lot of these techniques with great success. But what I think is missing in far too many strategies is the ability to first know and accept who we really are.

This is hard. We don’t want to look at our anger, hate, depression, hurt, anxiety, obsessiveness, fear or any general emotion that makes us feel negative. Or if we do look at these emotions, we want to immediately label them as “bad” and push them away.

I know, you’re probably thinking, “What’s wrong with that? I don’t like feeling negative.”

No one does. But when we ignore or push away these pieces of ourselves, there are consequences that go beyond feeling happy again. What are they?

1. We Miss Out on a Vibrant Piece of Our Personality

If we picture all our different emotions as each having their own color, like:

  • Yellow = cheerful
  • Blue = peaceful
  • Red = angry
  • Green = energetic

Accepting only one end of the color spectrum hides a whole piece of who we are. There’s no contrast between the positive and negative, and that contrast is what makes us interesting.

This is true whether we live entirely in the negative or entirely in the positive. And let me tell you, even happy can get boring.

2. We Run Out of Storage Space

Even though emotions are thought of as only existing as an idea, the truth is emotions take up physical space. Have you ever had a massage and when the knot in your shoulder was being rubbed out, you suddenly felt really emotional?

Or have you ever watched a sad movie and when you started to cry, the floodgates were opened and you just cried and cried until everything upsetting from the last month was out of your system? Then when that great cry was over, you felt so much lighter?

That’s because the emotions we have get stored in our bodies. They don’t just go away. I’ve even had certain yoga poses bring me to tears.

In fact, they’ll stay stored in there our entire lives if we let them, all the while affecting our decisions without us even realizing it.

Emotions can only be released after they’ve been acknowledged and heard. They have to be felt. And like I mentioned before, this can be an enjoyable way to experience a different color of ourselves.

But when we don’t acknowledge them and instead push them away as unhealthy or bad, they start to pile up. No matter how many good emotions we fill ourselves up with, those bad emotions just keep taking up space.

And then one day, when all the space is gone, we explode. No more happy. And chances are, the collateral damage around us is pretty severe.

3. We Continue to Expose Ourselves to Toxic People

When we don’t allow ourselves to be mad at someone or even hate them, we will be less likely to see when that person is hurting us. Instead, we’ll take on the negative emotions as our problem. We’ll see it as a weakness that we can’t rise above.

But there ARE toxic people out there. They may not even be toxic for anyone but us, but that’s enough of a reason to set some boundaries.

When we aren’t afraid to face negative emotions, we will be more likely to become aware when certain people make us feel bad. Then we’ll be able to take action on it.

4. We Keep Ourselves from Close Relationships with Others

Intimacy between two people is created when our hearts are exposed to each other. It’s birthed in the knowing, not the pleasing. Have you ever had someone tell you how much they love you and your first thought is, “But you don’t know me.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt that way. And you know what? Love doesn’t sink in if we aren’t known.

That’s because when someone loves all those great things about us, it doesn’t mean anything unless they’re real. Pretending we’re happy and okay all the time doesn’t expose our true heart.

I’m not saying we have to walk around miserably all of the time in order to be intimate, but I am saying we need to expose ALL of ourselves. Everyone has both negative and positive emotions. It’s part of being human.

5. We Feel Like Failures

The truth is no single human alive can exist solely in positive emotions. Thinking that we can is setting ourselves up for a major dose of feeling like a failure.

Because when we do feel anger, anxiety, hate or fear, we’ll follow it all up with another negative emotion: shame. Shame over being a negative human being.

But being negative is part of who we are. It’s okay. Everyone feels negative sometimes.

I love positive emotions! And I highly encourage them. But let’s free ourselves to live the entire spectrum.

If we do, we’ll feel more alive because we accepted more than happy in our lives. And chances are, we’ll be emotionally healthier too.

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About the author

Tara Schiller spent the last 10 years of her life dedicated to the sole purpose of coming fully alive. She now uses her knowledge and experience to write the inspirational, completely authentic, and sometimes poetic blog, Absolutely Tara. In 2015 Tara also published the book, Living an Alive Life which encourages readers to fall in love with their true selves. Follow along with what Tara is writing on her Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

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5 thoughts on 5 Reasons to Stop Ignoring Negative Emotions

  1. I really enjoyed this piece. It’s a subject that’s very near to my heart. None of us wants to wallow in negativity, but there is a lot to learn from going to those dark places and giving ourselves permission to feel whatever it is that’s coming up in our lives.

    • Yes Leslie. I have learned so much about life and my own person by being willing to pay attention to and validate my negative emotions. Glad you liked it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Great insights, Tara. What I’m hearing you say is that we cease to learn (whether from lack of emotional space or blocking parts of ourselves) when we ignore negative emotions.
    Loved this!

    • Exactly Susan. There’s so much to learn and experience within ourselves when we turn and face that which lies within us… even on the negative end. Glad you liked it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. It’s really interesting that you have said ‘run out of storage space’. That’s a nice way to put it – like our phones or computers being full up with too many songs or photographs.
    & I’d agree emotions need to be let out and boy oh boy – those hip openers in yoga are great for letting out the emotions. I very often recommend that my clients do yoga – so I can add this reason to my list to convince them it’s a good thing! Thank you for a lovely article. Chloe.

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