Written By: Rachel Koutnik LCSW
It takes courage to start therapy. Most people have no idea what to expect when they begin to talk about their feelings. As a therapist, I notice that many people feel defeated by their emotions. Many of my clients have shared that they feel anxious, depressed, lonely, scared and ashamed. After disclosing their specific struggles, I generally hear statements such as “feeling this is bad” or “I don’t want to feel this way anymore.” I get it. Emotions are hard and often the emotions we label as negative do not feel good. Does this mean they are bad?
Last week a client of mine said, "I hit rock bottom and I am tired of feeling so sad." My reaction was "Good! I am so glad you are aware that you want to feel differently." I noticed in saying this, my client’s energy shifted from feeling like a victim of their sadness to a person empowered by their sadness. This shift in mindset did not make the sadness go away, but now there was an understanding of how feeling and sharing about this emotion also led to knowing the deeper meaning behind it. In acknowledging their sadness my client became aware of how to improve self-care, understood more about their relationships with others, as well as how their environment was impacting these feelings of unhappiness. In the therapeutic space with self-awareness and self-compassion my client began to courageously confront these “bad” feelings. By expressing and feeling these unwanted emotions my client started understanding their personal truth and all the wisdom wanting to be exposed through this sadness.
All “negative” emotions are undoubtedly challenging. They can be physically and emotionally painful and do not feel “good.” However, in therapy, as one shares and identifies specific emotional blocks, clients are also acknowledging an opening to get “unstuck” simply by noticing the feelings of being “stuck” or “unhappy.” "Feeling bad" becomes an opportunity to notice one’s truth desperately wanting to be heard. When emotions are labeled as “bad,” when they are avoided or pushed away, the meaning one’s inner self is attempting to communicate by feeling these unpleasant emotions is not heard. When we reject our emotions, we end up suffering more and become disconnected from our truth.
This truth I am speaking about is the wisdom only you can know about yourself. You are always the expert of you, but our intense emotional experiences can cause doubt in this belief. When you connect with this inner wisdom through processing, awareness, and sometimes with action you will start to feel and know the wisdom that is coming from those "bad emotions." It is through feeling bad and listening to your inner self about why you are having unwanted feelings, that you can gain wisdom and become more deeply connected within yourself, with others and actively participate in making conscious choices on whatever path you choose.
I invite you to be curious about getting in touch with your emotions, and utilizing your body and mind as tools to knowing the truth you hold about your wants and needs. If you as an individual or you and your partner are struggling with difficult emotions and would like support in exploring and getting to know your inner truth, please contact Symmetry Counseling to schedule an intake session with one of our clinicians.