By Dr. Amy Beth Taublieb
Nobody can or ever should deny the benefits of positive thinking. Indeed, looking at the world in a positive manner makes us more pleasant to be around, and typically helps us to feel better overall.
However, it is the unfortunate reality that there are times when life presents us with circumstances which are extremely difficult. Whether it be illness, grieving, financial difficulties, job problems, relationship issues, parenting/family troubles, or other internal struggles, our emotions aren’t always in a position to allow us to keep a smile on our face and move on, as if nothing is wrong. To be perfectly blunt, there are situations in life where it’s virtually impossible to “look at the bright side” because that “bright side” is either too difficult to find, or that alleged “bright side” doesn’t even exist.
As a psychologist, I have encountered many cases in which an individual, consciously or unconsciously, yielded to the societal pressure of presenting a positive outlook, and ended up with some clinically significant psychological issues. You see, our feelings are our feelings. Period. End of story. It is imperative that we respect these emotions and allow them to be expressed.
If we somehow try to repress or stuff feelings that we consider to be socially unacceptable, difficult, or otherwise uncomfortable, the unfortunate truth is that these feelings will find a way to be expressed one way or the other. Many individuals who experience unexplainable anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, crying episodes which appear to come out of the blue, frequent incidents of explosive anger, symptoms of malaise, full blown depression, or even various physical complaints, are experiencing the results of feelings which have been denied expression popping out in another form.
You see, if we do not allow our emotions to be expressed, they don’t magically disappear. Rather, these feelings remain inside of us and fester to a point where they manifest themselves in various forms of psychopathology (mental or behavioral disorders). More often than not, these psychological symptoms manifest in ways that are often far worse than whatever discomfort would have been associated with identifying, acknowledging, and then expressing whatever emotions we may have had.
Is this to say that we should be kegs of emotional dynamite — expressing every feeling the minute it occurs — filling our worlds with panic, screaming, and tears at every turn? Of course not! Rather, like most things in life, moderation is the key! Simply stated, know and accept whatever feelings you have. Allow yourself to appropriately express them in a safe environment (maybe that means when alone), and don’t ignore their existence. Feel whatever it is you feel so you don’t end up paying a higher emotional price later on.
Dr. Amy Beth Taublieb is a well-respected Licensed Psychologist in Western New York who provides psychotherapy and assessment for individuals, couples, and families. A media personality, she is sourced by various national and local publications, and has published four of her own books. Explore Dr. Taublieb’s services by calling 716-834-1505 or visiting www.dramybeth.com.