Why should we feel our emotions?

Without judging it as right or wrong, the fact is that when we avoid feeling or accepting our emotions, they don’t truly go away. They persist in some form. By avoiding the emotion, we are actually reacting to the emotion and training ourselves to react again and again in future.

If we avoid feeling sad, we respond to the emotion of sadness with an action of avoidance. But the emotion of sadness is itself a natural response to a situation we perceive as bad. By adding avoidance actions, we inject noise and distraction into whatever would naturally arise in us as the sadness progressed. The energy of the sadness is redirected into other actions and responses.

And the truth is that holistically we don’t know the role and repercussions of our emotional response. We have this urge to displace the sadness without knowing what the sadness really is, or what it is doing, or what other processes it is setting in motion.

For one thing, avoiding the sadness means we don’t really know it. One glimpse of sadness might be enough to know “I don’t like it!” But how big is it? How dark is it? Is it purely sad or is it also scared? Is it limited or is it extrapolating itself beyond the situation that evoked it in the first place?

Perhaps by analogy we could say that sadness is like physical pain. We could go straight to painkillers at the first hint of pain, but if we understand that pain is a sensation with depth and complexity and regions and variation, then we can gain knowledge and familiarity with the pain. We might even find that the pain is part of the healing process, that it brings us insights into how to live with and manage it, or that it inspires cures.

Going deeper still, we could say that an emotion such as sadness is not a response, but something our deeper self is creating as part of our reality. If we react against the reality our own deeper self is creating, then we are causing friction and conflict within us.

To be honest I don’t know if this is the correct answer or just another transient perspective along the way. But I like it because it gives greater respect and value to the feelings and emotions that arise in us. Feel your sadness because it is part of your reality, and your job for now is to be present to the reality you are creating.

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