“Wait a minute, but I want to be happy! I don’t want to feel these “negative” feelings,” you may think. I too have always struggled with some of these emotions, because I want to generally be happy. And I don’t want to be a person who is jealous or resentful of others.
Yet psychologists like Carl Rogers and Nathaniel Branden tell us that we damage our self-esteem when we deny our feelings. To live our best possible life, we need to allow ourselves to experience the full range of human emotions.
Not only do we damage ourselves by denying some of our feelings. We may be ruining our relationships with others as well. Have you ever felt jealous of a friend? I have, and when I did, I felt very bad about it.
After all, this was a close friend, and I really “shouldn’t” be jealous, since I want to be a good person and great friend. What I didn’t know is that if we refuse to accept emotions like being jealous, we are likely to “act out” our suppressed feeling and behave badly toward the other person. And because we don’t want to think ill of ourselves, we then proceed to blame the person we just wronged instead.
So when we deny some of our feelings, we end up harming our relationships without meaning to. But how do we accept our “not so positive” feelings in a healthy way?
The key lies in understanding that accepting an emotion does not mean that we resign to it. According to Harvard professor Tal Been-Shahar, author of “The Pursuit of Perfect”, it is completely normal to feel different emotions. No person is free from the experience of jealousy, fear, sadness or anger. These emotions are neither good nor bad. The question is what we decide to do about these feelings.
We all have an image of what we want our ideal self to be like. And while it is not always possible to feel like the person we would like to be, it is possible to act in a way that matches our ideal self.
In other words, we might feel jealous or afraid, but we can act benevolently and courageously. We have a choice every day, every moment.
So go ahead! Give yourself permission to feel jealous, angry, sad, resentful, anxious or afraid. It’s really ok, it doesn’t make you a bad person to feel the way you do. But then make a choice how the person you want to be would act, and take an action that is benevolent, compassionate, joyful, forgiving, peaceful and courageous. ♥