Emotion Regulation: Part 2 – The Surprising Benefits of Feeling Emotions

The Surprising Benefits of Feeling Emotions

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of a healthy relationship with your emotions. When you have a healthy relationship with your emotions, you are able to acknowledge, feel, and express them in a way that is supportive and beneficial to you. This doesn’t mean that you have to like all of your emotions, or even that you have to feel them all the time. But having a healthy relationship with emotions does mean that you are aware of them, and that you are able to process them in a helpful way for yourself and your relationships.

Acknowledging your emotions is an important step in managing them. When you notice that you are feeling an emotion like anger, sadness or fear, it allows you to take steps to address the emotion. Feeling the emotion means more than just acknowledging that it is there; it involves a deep connection with the emotion. You may notice the emotion in your body, in your thoughts, or in your outward expressions. Expressing the emotion allows you to release it in a safe and healthy way. Using words that represent the emotion can help you to communicate how you are feeling. Allowing your body to express the emotion can also help you to release it. Acknowledging, feeling, and expressing your emotions is an important part of managing them.

When a person is able to acknowledge, feel and express their emotions, it results in catharsis. This refers to the experience of relief resulting from the expression of strong emotions that may be experienced after, for example, crying, swearing, or aggressive acts (2). The general idea is that such expressions result in the release of excessive emotional energy that, if not adequately released, might convert into a variety of psychological and even physical health problems.

Crying is a way for our body to reduce accumulated tension and physiological arousal from both positive and negative emotions. It has also been shown to increase attachment behavior, encouraging closeness, empathy, and support from friends and family (2). When we try to hold back our tears, it results in a build-up of emotional stress that can lead to worsening mood, anxiety, and depression (2).

As a result of connecting with emotions, engaging in an expression like crying, talking, and experiencing catharsis, we loosen the emotion’s grip over our well-being. We further benefit from seeing our problem in a new light, making it easier to problem-solve, reduce stress, increase resilience, reduce anxiety, improve confidence, and ease depression (1).

Emotionally resilient people are not immune to negative emotions, but they have the ability to manage them effectively. While some people may try to avoid negative emotions altogether, emotional resilience is about recognizing and accepting them as a normal part of life. People who are emotionally resilient are more likely to experience positive emotions, such as joy and happiness. They are also better able to cope with stressful situations and bounce back from setbacks. 

Emotional resilience is like a muscle. Just as you cannot build up your strength overnight, it takes time and effort to develop these skills, but the benefits are worth every second of work! In my next blog, I will be talking about three practices that emotionally resilient people utilize to maintain peace within themselves along life’s journey.

 

Resources

  1. Alston, T. (2020). [Why Expressing Emotions is Beneficial]. www.tracyalston.com Retrieved from https://tracyalston.com/why-expressing-emotions-is-beneficial/ 
  2. Gračanin, A., Bylsma, L. M., & Vingerhoets, A. J. (2014). Is crying a self-soothing behavior?. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 502. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00502

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