Science Says Feeling Bad About Feeling Bad Will Just Make You Feel, Well, Awful

by Imani Brammer

You know when you feel bad, but you don't want to feel bad, so you try not to feel bad, but that's frustrating, and you just end up in this never-ending cycle of sh*tty feelings? Yeah, well, science says feeling bad about yourself when those negative emotions strike isn't going to help you in the long-run. Rather, research has demonstrated the importance of feeling your emotions for exactly what they are, instead of falling into the trap of feeling bad about, well, feeling bad.

Researchers at the University of Berkeley recently conducted a study on the science behind these crummy feelings, and our responses as human beings to those emotions.

Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, told EurekAlert! Science News,

We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health.

The researchers speculated that accepting negative emotions for what they are could work because it helps conquer feelings of self-judgment. With self-judgment only comes more frustration, accompanied by more guilt and more self-judgment, and so on and so forth. The cycle is easy to fall into, but it can be incredibly hard to break.

Being honest with yourself about what you're feeling, however, can be a preventative measure against feeling additionally crummy emotions.

Mauss explained,

Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you're not giving them as much attention. And perhaps, if you're constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.

The study tested the correlation between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults. The results suggested that people who resist acknowledging their emotions for what they truly are are more likely to feel more psychologically stressed.

According to study lead author Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto,

People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.

Realistically, the only way to alter your emotions is to first confront them in an honest way.

This logic makes perfect sense when you think about it. How do you expect to genuinely alter the thoughts in your mind if you can't be honest with what those thoughts and feelings actually are?

According to Psychology Today, so much of our emotional distress comes from the thoughts we think. With that in mind, it's crucial to acknowledge the thoughts that don't serve you or benefit you in any way. Picture those negative thoughts sort of floating by in your mind like clouds passing through the sky. You can watch them go by, but you don't have to emotionally tie yourself to them.

Honesty is the best policy, both in overall interactions in life, and when it comes to dealing with your own negative emotions. Would you really want to walk around lying to your own self about how you feel? That, in and of itself, sounds stressful, and nobody has time for that kind of anxiety.