From an early age, we learn to hide or repress our ‘negative’ emotions. When a child is sad, we will tell them that everything will be fine, say things like ‘don’t make such a fuss’, ‘big boys don’t cry’, or we comfort them with food or distract them with a game. Everything is aimed at stopping the crying.
However, it is actually very important to acknowledge feelings, to give them space, to feel them instead of hiding them away or rationalizing them. Next time you or someone in your environment is angry, scared or sad, try to give room to those feelings. Phrases such as ”I understand that you are sad”, “It is understandable that you are angry” acknowledge those feelings. They are allowed to be there. They are part of life. After you let the emotion flow through you (instead of pushing it away or projecting it onto someone else), you often feel surprisingly relieved and full of positive energy. I continue to find it a bit scary, and I don’t always succeed in applying this myself. But when I do, I wonder why we don’t learn this at school? Or from our parents? Why don’t we teach this to our own children? The good news is that it is never too late to start!