Labelling Emotional Experiences

Originally written and published in my monthly newsletter as a reflection

The human experience is mostly emotional. I understand the concept, but I’ve struggled with truly feeling in tune with my understanding of emotions. I know they just are what they are, but also… there’s something to be said about their utility. 

The concept that most negative emotions are “bad” and most positive emotions are “good” has been one I’ve leaned into over the past few years. And it has some truth to it, but for the most part there’s been a gap in my understanding of that concept that’s nagged at me like a fly in a sleeping room. 

Could it be so black and white? No.

Sadness can’t always be bad. Pain can’t always be bad. Joy shouldn’t always be good. How can we label the emotions like that when in some circumstances, feeling pain is good? When pain and sadness can facilitate growth?

And also, how can sadness be bad when it is truly to the core what we feel when we lose the things we love in life? Isn’t that where the beauty of emotions lay? It feels inauthentic to repress emotions that are so true to our experience.

How do I feel!?!? Can we create situational rules for emotions? Again, no. The human experience is too subjective, even if the situation is shared. 

And that’s when I realized: to experience the feeling of emotions can’t be based on the emotion itself. It’s not based on the experience. It’s not based on the situation, the subjectiveness, your capacity to feel, your values in life.. it’s based on awareness.

If you bring awareness and consciousness without a pre-determined decision on the emotional experience, emotions that are valid will stay, and ones that aren’t will dissipate. There is no repression, and no false control involved in this. The ones that dissipate, dissipate on their own. Sometimes you will even be surprised at the ones which go. And the ones that stay, they will stay on their own. 

Then there is no second guessing, no rabbit-hole of questioning your experience, or a “choice” to feel bad about. There just is. Emotions just are. And to feel is to feel, to not feel is to not feel, all on the basis of what you truly need vs. what you want. 

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