Are you having a bad day? How about a rough or even a mildly annoying one? Have you been struggling to keep a stiff upper lip or a happy outlook and finding yourself feeling worse? If you’ve been there before or are maybe at this point now here is a gentle reminder: It’s okay to not be positive 100% of the time. Everyone knows that wallowing in negative emotions or making unhealthy choices when you’re upset are things you should avoid. It seems very logical. But the equally important reminder to embrace your negative emotions is often overlooked. Your emotions are a natural reaction to what is happening around you, and if what is happening around you isn’t pleasant, well, you’re not going to feel great.
And that’s fine.
There is a lot of push to stay positive in times of hardship and when you’re living with a chronic illness it’s easy to think that it’s expected of us no matter how we actually feel. We feel that we have to push through all the bad times with a smile, that people are expecting us to be strong, positive, happy, even perfect. But positivity isn’t about dismissing negative feelings. The positive psychology movement is actually about embracing the total of human emotion and practicing emotional, cognitive, and response flexibility. In fact, suppressing negative emotions can have a more harmful effect than feeling them and questioning their roots. Some negative emotions are there for a reason. They’re there to tell us something isn’t right, the same way pain alerts us that we need to address something in our bodies. If we block them out to try and maintain a perfect image of being ok when we’re not we could be ignoring a serious issue.
We can’t control our emotions, only what we do about them. We’re human, and things do get tough. It’s okay to let yourself feel and to take time to understand those feelings. You are not less of a person or any less of a fighter for having a bad day, or for feeling sorry for yourself sometimes. You’re human. So be kind to yourself.