Should I Just Ignore My Negative Feelings and Just Think Positive? Well Not So Fast.

This post is related to my last post and is connected to the avoidance of emotion and how we really feel. At different times people have come to me and have said something similar to the following: "Should I try to ignore my negative thoughts and feelings and just think positive? I have tried to do this but I still end up feeling bad, why is this?" or they might say "I'm a positive person and I just think positively". When people tell me they "just think positively", I often notice that when telling me about themselves and their life history, that they have had fairly traumatic lives and that they often seem to be barely holding it together. So to the question "Should I just ignore my negative feelings and just think positive"? Well the short answer is no. Whilst having a positive attitude towards life can be a good thing, many people use so-called positive thinking as a way to avoid very troubling and painful feelings. In these cases "being positive" so to speak, can end up being a very negative thing. In doing this, people end up being negative by avoiding their real feelings and can consequently intensify their negative experience of life. Surprisingly, the positive thing to do in these cases is to accept our negative and unpleasant feelings, without trying to avoid them. Some research has found that people who habitually try to avoid negative feelings often feel worse and people who are able to accept their negative feelings without judgment or criticism generally are less troubled by negative emotions. Good mental health often involves being able to accept ourselves as we are "in the moment" and have a good tolerance of different emotions and ambiguity. Mindfulness practice often encourages people to do this, as does psychoanalytically based therapies. Being real with ourselves about how we really feel, can help us to have better relationships with others and accept ourselves as people. After all, we don't have to be perfect people, just real and true to ourselves. I have included a link below to an article on this that cites some recent scientific research published in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology on this very topic. I hope you enjoy reading it. Just click the link below to read about how avoiding bad feelings can make you feel worse.

Feeling Bad About Feeling Bad? Embrace Negative Emotions Instead, Study Says.