Let me be straight from the start: Emotions are neither right nor wrong. They are exactly that: emotions.
How come do we qualify them as good or bad, positive or negative? For ages - and still a reality in certain cultures and families - sadness is not seen with good eyes if you are a man, but totally understandable if you are a woman. The other way around when it comes to anger; acceptable for men, considered atypical for women.
There are here cultural and societal factors behind the construct of emotions. And if we want to move toward a better understanding of emotions, we need to leave our assumptions aside and develop more awareness. Starting with being more self-aware regarding our own emotions. Consciously we know that we are emotional beings, we are aware of the idea of having emotions. What happens to some of us is usually one of two scenarios:
1) We are not aware of our own emotions.
2) We acknowledge our emotions but have no clue how to deal with them.
There is surely a third scenario where we not only acknowledge and accept our emotions, but we also own them and do not let ourselves be controlled by them. Even for those fitting into this third scenario, it does not mean they have it all figured out and never let themselves be driven by their emotions. They just have an increased self-awareness allowing them to recognize these situations where emotions take the best of them and get back to a neutral space by setting themselves free from their emotions.
I imagine that you would like to jump right up to the third scenario. But the same way you cannot run before you learn how to walk, you cannot be a master in dealing with your emotions if you are not even aware of what those emotions are or how do they influence your life. I'll do my best to address the two situations described above knowing that the ultimate goal is to build a healthy relationship with your emotions.
In the first scenario, there is a deep lack of self-awareness. You have done a great job in burying your emotions and I am not saying you don't have good reasons for it. Maybe it was the way you were raised and taught to deal with your emotions. Perhaps it was too painful at some point which led you to protect yourself by pushing them down. Maybe there is a negative past experience - a trauma even - that it is preventing your emotions to emerge to consciousness.
To be able to let go of emotions that do not serve you, you have first to know that they are there. You must acknowledge them and accept their existence. Here is where it gets tricky! You have good reasons not to open the Pandora box and let whatever is inside to spill all over your life. In this case, I'd highly recommend working with a therapist or a coach to unblock this pathway and develop specific strategies to increase self-awareness while working through what comes up.
Considering the second scenario where you consciously acknowledge your emotions, you are already one step ahead. You accept that emotions are part of who you are, you even welcome them into your life. Before even blinking, your emotions are spilling all over the place leaving you overwhelmed and exhausted. Everything becomes a bit blurred, and you experience life with constant ups and downs (ups being the "good" emotions and downs associated with "bad" emotions). This inner struggle only leads to more confusion and frustration, repeating itself in an endless cycle. How to break this pattern?
The more you connect with your emotions without becoming them, the easier it will be to let go of them. By understanding what your emotions are trying to tell you and by accepting them for what they are (not good or bad), you are no longer a slave of your emotions. Rather, a vessel where your emotions are held and attended before being released.
We will continue talking about emotions and how to better deal with them in the following days and weeks. Stay tuned to get more information and a few strategies.