• Sarah Yoo

4 Steps To Accept and Overcome Your Negative Emotions

Melissa Broder is known for her hilariously melancholic tweets. She shares things like “waking up today was a disappointment” or "I don’t feel well but I never have.” She is also brutally honest about her imperfections - “my serotonin receptors got canceled” or “you’re damn right I lack self-confidence.” Her account is immensely popular now with 809,000 people following her daily inner life.

It’s interesting how her expression of sadness and grey emotions in between, strikes a nerve in this modern culture of perfectly curated lives of status and happiness.

The growing rates of depression and anxiety in the western world contradict this illusion. Clearly, there is something more to this inconsistency.

Our culture tasks us to pursue happiness, but how happy are we truly in the pursuit?

The fact of the matter is, we are addicted to emotional perfectionism - i.e. to be radiating with constant positivity and happiness.

However, desiring happiness is not the real issue.

Our issue lies in ONLY wanting positive emotions while ignoring the negative ones.

Philosopher Alan Watts talked about a concept called "The Backwards Law” which is the idea that the more we try, the less we will succeed. This means that the opposite is also true - the less we try to force things, the more we will succeed.

There is a simple yet profound lesson in this law:

It is the constant pursuit of happiness that causes more unhappiness, while the acceptance of negative emotions itself can create more positive emotions.

You see, negative emotions are not bad and therefore does not harm us. It is rather our resistance to accepting them that does.

"Whatever You Fight, You Strengthen, and What You Resist, Persists" – Eckhart Tolle

What if we stop fighting our inevitable negative feelings and instead focus on learning how to process them in a healthy way?

If you often find yourself getting stuck with negative emotions, I firstly invite you to surrender this perpetual need to be emotionally perfect and instead practice acceptance.