When you’re feeling upset, angry, stressed, or sad, don’t deny, withhold, or hide from your feelings. Think about what it is that’s making you feel this way.
Emotional Acceptance refers to the willingness and ability to accept and experience negative emotions—to acknowledge and absorb them. Jan Chozen Bays, a pediatrician-turned Zen teacher, writes in Mindfulness on the Go: Simple Meditation Practices You Can Do Anywhere (2014,) a practical guide for engaging the mind,
A very important way to work with discomfort is to stop avoiding it. You will walk right into it and feel from within the body what is true. You investigate the discomfort—its size, shape, surface texture and even its color and sound. Is it constant or intermittent? When you are this attentive, when your meditative absorption is deep, what we call discomfort or pain begins to shift and even disappear. It becomes a series of sensations just appearing and disappearing in empty space, twinkling on and off. It is most interesting.
Mindfulness practice needn’t be just for negative emotions, either. Are you feeling happy and joyful? Calm and content? Apprehensive or remorseful? No matter the case, taking stock of how you’re feeling can help you realize that your emotions do not represent you. They don’t have to define your thoughts.
Practicing this self-reflective process regularly will help you better understand yourself, break negative patterns in your life, and react to emotional situations in a wholesome, more productive way.
Idea for Impact: Practice Emotional Acceptance—Feeling Bad Can Be Good
Emotional avoidance appears to be a reasonable thing to do. Yes, it provides momentary relief in the here and now. But emotional avoidance often involves denying the truth—and that isn’t a good foundation for a healthy life.
Over time, it only makes things worse to avoid the thing that scares you. Create the awareness to feel your feelings, label them, accept them, and then let them fade.