There is a lot to be said for being happy. Happy tends to be the overarching goal that people have for their lives, their kids’ lives, and just about everything else in general. For obvious reasons, people do not want to be sad, hurt, anxious, or angry. Those emotions are the more uncomfortable emotions that our society has labeled ‘bad’ feelings. While those feelings are certainly not enjoyable, the unfortunate result of labeling them that way is that the word ‘bad’ has become synonymous with ‘wrong’.
Think about how our society responds to someone who is displaying one of those emotions that we consider to be a negative feeling. We tell people who are angry to calm down. We tell people who are anxious to get over it. We tell people who are sad to cheer up. Repeatedly, we send the message that feeling anything other happy is unacceptable and, by doing so, we miss all the things that those other emotions are trying to tell us.
Feelings, in and of themselves, are neither right nor wrong—they simply are. Feelings are tools, signals that tell us when there is something in our lives that is having a direct impact on us. The negative feelings that we experience are there to tell us that there is something that we need to address in order to move forward in a healthy manner.
When we approach our feelings as though they are tools that help indicate a need, we are less likely to categorize them as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. If we can objectively examine the circumstances of and influences on our emotions, we can appropriately identify what needs to be addressed and how to address it.