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The Art of Sitting with Your Feelings

A Guide to Emotional Wellness

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By Kinjal Basnet | 7th May, 2023

Explore why doing nothing when feeling sad can help you develop emotional intelligence and regulate your emotions in the long term. Learn how societal pressure to avoid negative emotions can lead to a lack of emotional intelligence, and how to validate your feelings and sit with them to promote healing and growth.

What do you do when you're feeling sad? People tend to have different coping mechanisms when dealing with sadness. Some turn to their favorite TV shows, what everyone likes to call "comfort TV shows." Others find solace in reading books, immersing themselves in new worlds to escape their sadness and grief. Some people develop a habit of “binge eating,” which can eventually lead to eating disorders. Then, there are those who don't do anything about it. Which category do you think you belong to? Personally, I belong to the last category, and I believe that it's worth trying. Allow me to explain why.

Why do we feel the need to change how we feel when we're sad? The root of the problem can be traced back to our primary education, where emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt, and shame were categorized as "bad." We grew up believing that we should avoid these emotions at all costs. As a result, we continue to ignore the so-called "bad" emotions and seek out the "good" ones, even in our adult lives. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good and happy, but we all know life is not a bed of roses, and eventually, we'll come across other feelings. At those times, our inability to recognize and deal with our emotions might work against us. The societal pressure to avoid negative emotions and seek only positive ones has led to a lack of emotional intelligence, leaving people unequipped to handle the full spectrum of emotions that life presents.

Brianna West describes it best in her essay that suffering is just the refusal to accept what it is. The more you find yourself running away and avoiding feeling bad, the closer you are to feeling miserable. Therefore, you have to learn how to be intelligent with your emotions and deal with them. Daniel Goleman has popularized the term "emotional intelligence" and it is all you need to know in order to specialize the skill. He has introduced five domains of emotional intelligence:

Why Do Nothing When You're Sad?

Engaging in activities such as watching a movie may offer temporary relief from sadness but ultimately fails to address the underlying issue. Rather than seeking temporary distractions, you should do nothing. That is where you start to become self-aware and recognize what you're feeling and why you're feeling it. The more you identify your feelings, the easier it gets to take control of them. A moment of true emotional intelligence is achieved when one takes control over their emotional responses rather than being controlled by them. This ability to regulate and manage emotions leads to a more fulfilled and wholesome life.

In Conclusion...

The process of dealing with your emotions can be harder than it is explained. It requires you to be vulnerable with your truth and fight against or for it. However, like West states how the worst thing that could happen is “feeling,” and at the end of the day, there is no need to fight your feelings or run away from them. It’s okay not to be okay, and you can always choose to validate your own feelings and sit with them. You can lean on them and take a step towards healing and growth.

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