As a generalisation, society conditions people that positive emotions are the only acceptable state, otherwise a doctor may say we are depressed and anti-depressions are recommended.
If we are upset as a child, most parents do not validate such emotions, they may say “Go and get a biscuit and you will feel better.” Yet the truth is that emotions are like a muscle, the more we exercise them and expand the range of movement, the healthier is our level of emotional fitness.
Many people shut down their emotions, as they do not know how to handle their negative feelings. An interesting emotional expression example was only few days ago playing in our last inter-club tennis match of the season, when I let out a loud scream/yell when I was feeling frustrated. I was aware I had gone off my game a little, as I had gone into the head thinking more and not feeling as relaxed. This outburst of expression helped me relax and return to my best form. I know people talk about this emotive behaviour behind my back and the fact I express so many emotions and I guess they say this is weak, yet I know that I play better when I express frustration.
Yet it takes a certain level of strength to be able to be vulnerable, to fully express our emotions. I certainly know the difference having experienced both sides of this divide. I like the following video from Lisa McInnes-Smith on this topic. I was lucky enough to have the real pleasure of meeting her last week. She was the Key Note Speaker at the National Speakers Association Gala Awards evening on Friday night. What an inspirational person and story.
Also a fascinating article from Danish Psychologist Svend Brinkmann explains it so well, how “Ultimately, negative emotions play an important and healthy role in how we understand and react to the world. Guilt and shame are essential to a sense of morality…..”
Yet growing up, I developed the belief that being emotional was a weakness and I had taught myself to be positive and so called strong. Yet the reality is that via positive thinking, I suppressed negative reactions and huge amounts of anger, hence I would go into the head and think rather than feel, resulting in being very ungrounded and cut off from reality. Then more than 15 years ago when I discovered this huge suppressed anger, I started the journey to understand emotions.
Click here to read the full article from Danish Psychologist Svend Brinkmann who suggests that positive thinking can be dangerous. I certainly found that out myself as due to positive thinking, I was in my head bubble, emotionally suppressed. Hence I struggled to achieve balanced success, certainly not in flow. I had zero ability to be vulnerable, yet now due to good emotional fitness, I am now very much more authentic and able to be true, hence vulnerable. This is true power and strength as emotional fitness is the true source of inner satisfaction and of course joy.