• Amy Martella, MS, LMFTA

Accepting Emotions

What would it look like if we accepted the emotions that we were feeling, even ones that we don’t like? How would we see ourselves and our emotions if we allowed this to occur and extended enough grace to not place judgment on ourselves for this? When feeling something negative, it is easy to push these away or dismiss them as irrelevant or as an overreaction. This can serve the purpose of not having to address the feeling, pretending we are fine or avoiding conflict, however, it also helps us to create an idea that our feelings and emotions are not important or that they wrong. The opposite of this rejection of emotion is often referred to as radical acceptance or the ability to accept yourself (and in this case your emotions) for what they are, not what you wish them to be.

Allowing space for us to feel and accept these emotions is something that does not come naturally to many people; our instinct may be to pretend everything is fine. Yet in doing so we are diminishing our own self-worth and ignoring one of the attributes that make us a human being. It is also important to remember that no one can tell us that our feeling is wrong or that we are not allowed to have certain emotions just because they may not agree with it. What we do have is a responsibility in how we react to these emotions. When 2 young children are fighting over a toy, it is acceptable for them to become frustrated or even angry but it is not ok for them to hit each other or say the other one is stupid. These same principles apply when we are adults – we are allowed the emotions but that does not mean that we are allowed to hurt others on purpose as a result of what we feel.

Learning to accept how we feel can provide us with valuable information about ourselves and what is going on in and around us and assist us in learning how to manage what we feel.