A question that comes up so often here at DOH is Are my emotions normal? It’s an important question because normalizing our emotions helps us accept them. And acceptance leads to better mental health
When we study happiness, we realize there is a lot of flawed thinking around it that tends to worsen depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. The first is the idea that we should be happy all the time. Not only is this not likely but it’s not even possible. Emotions are like the weather (Kansas weather to be exact)☀️⛈❄️-constantly changing. Think back to a day you were excited about- maybe a birthday or holiday. My guess is even that day was full of all the emotions like joy, disappointment, overwhelm, and sadness. If we expect we should be happy all day, we set our self up for major failure. This is where acceptance and learning to watch our emotions ☀️⛈❄️ vs. trying to control them comes in. Much more on how to do this another day!
The second happiness myth piggy backs off our first! Since we just learned that emotions are not in our control and constantly changing, it would be a futile struggle to assume the purpose or goal in life is to be happy. Instead we want to seek a FULFILLING life. What’s the difference? Seeking a fulfilling life means making choices based on our values and intentions (in our control) not our emotions or outcome (not in our control). By doing this we assure ourselves that our emotions, positive or negative, are an investment in our values.
Having kids, working towards a desired career, maintaining relationships (to name a few)- all these things are fulfilling to many because they fall in line with values like legacy, financial stability, work ethic, and connection but these things don’t just yield happy feelings. Quite the contrary if we are actually in touch with and allowing what we feel to exist. But we do have a guarantee which is that if we live a life based on values, while simply allowing any negative emotions of the day, we will lay our heads on our pillows feeling fulfilled. And there’s nothing much healthier than that 🙌🏼 Follow us on instagram for more about the “how” to do this!
This last myth really grinds our gears because it’s what gives so much shame and discomfort to the question are my emotions normal? This is the myth that usually resonates most with clients because they are used to hearing “just be grateful” “choose happy!” “Why can’t you just be more positive?”. The myth is that if you are not happy you are defective. We call this toxic positivity and it can add extra negative emotions (like shame) onto already difficult emotions (like anxiety or depression) and keep us from getting help. This isn’t good for anyone!
So instead, we encourage clients to remember the last 2 myths and that all emotions are normal including uncomfortable ones. If someone is saying they are happy all the time, they are lying or not in touch with their emotions and the effect those emotions are having on their life. So next time someone says “just____” after you tell them how you feel, you have our permission to go ahead and stop listening. The answer is not to think more positive or will yourself to be happy. The answer lies in the acceptance and willingness to feel all our feelings and process them in a healthy way. Gratitude is great but no amount of gratitude will make you happy all the time so lets reset our expectations and learn to manage these difficult emotions!
So next time you ask yourself are my emotions normal? we hope you will remember this article and be able to move on with your day and what you can actually control! Make an appointment today to learn how!