Anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt are often perceived as negative emotions. However, the truth is that they are a healthy part of our human expression.
We get angry about what happened; then, we get sad about what didn’t happen. What happened and what didn’t happen are both concepts in relation to the past. The expression and experience for the emotions of anger and sadness are in the past. This can be something that has or hasn’t happened one minute ago, one hour ago, one year or decades ago.
One of the learnings that should be involved in the natural healthy expression of anger is the setting of boundaries. When we get angry we learn what is ‘enough’ for us, what the limit is, where the boundaries lay. With support and understanding we can then learn to set healthy boundaries.
The learning involved in sadness is the expression of grief and the sense of release that comes with crying. With support and understanding we can learn that if we move towards the sadness and express it in a healthy way the release is beneficial.
As we’re unfolding our emotional learning, we learn that from those two experiences of anger and sadness; that is, what happened and what didn’t happen; we can then forecast into the future and imagine what might happen. Anxiety and hurt are emotions that are created by forecasting into the future. So they are concepts in relation to the future.
Being afraid or fearful is imagining what might now happen and sometimes that is imagining a negative outcome. So fear and anxiety are negative goal-setting.
The learning involved in fear is the establishment of appropriate safety. With support and understanding we can learn that we can utilise our history to learn about consequences and make discerning intelligent choices about what is safe and what is not.
From there we then forecast into the future about what now can’t happen – which is hurt. This involves a sense of sorrow that one cannot get what one wanted and that others have not acted in the way we wished them to.
The learning involved in hurt is the understanding and expression of forgiveness for others. With support and understanding we can learn compassion. We can learn that we are all fallible and that holding on to old hurt only damages us in the long run. As much as some do not like it, the antidote to hurt is forgiveness. It has been said that “Forgiving yourself is the most selfish act that you can do for yourself”.
The next emotion in the sequence is guilt. Guilt is about recognising what is happening now and wishing that you could do something about it but can’t. There are other emotions that are mixed in with guilt – like being angry at yourself for what you did, or sad that you did not do something etc.
The learning involved in guilt is the understanding and compassion involved in forgiveness of self. With support and understanding we can learn to be gentle and respect ourselves. As with forgiving others, we need to know that we are human and deserving of the chance to make amends and then let it go. We need to learn that continuing to punish ourselves is non-productive.
The emotions of anger, sadness, fear and hurt are clear, clean human processes. They are the healthy expression of our internal process. If, however, nobody has taught us how to go through and understand these emotions; if we haven’t actually been able to experience and express them; if we do not move towards and express these emotions in a healthy way, learning and growing as we experience them, what can happen is that we will suppress and create a backlog that becomes difficult to manage.
There are a myriad of different labels that go with these suppressed emotions
- Resentment, blame, hate, annoyance, frustration and irritation are all suppressed versions of anger.
- Depression, hopelessness, indifference and apathy are all suppressed expressions of sadness.
- Anxiety, doubt, jealousy and worry are suppressed versions of fear.
- Sorrow and unworthiness are suppressed version of hurt.
- Self-pity and remorse are suppressed expressions of guilt.
By holding onto emotions that have been there for a long time, whether we have consciously done that or not, our whole system is unable to operate at its optimum. Holding on to these emotions can block us from seeing possibilities.
It is important to understand that clearing away old emotions can benefit you to move forward. In moving toward emotions and appropriately releasing them we are then able to have resolution and are able to experience coming back to our natural state of love or versions of love. In this place we are able to get in touch with our desires, what we want and dream about.
The full spectrum of emotions includes all the above emotions as well as Peace, Happiness,
and Joy. Love, peace, happiness and joy are often perceived as being positive emotions and anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt are perceived as negative emotions. They are all, in fact, just emotions.
The degree to which we are skilled in releasing, expressing, experiencing and understanding these emotions will dictate whether they have a negative or positive effect on our wellbeing and life.
Where are you at with expressing your emotions?
Find out more about working with Jen Froome here.