If you’re always forcing yourself to be upbeat and optimistic all the time and denying your feelings you’re just setting yourself up for a deep depression according to a new study from Berkeley University.
This study checked 1300 American adults to find if there is a relationship between accepting our emotions and our psychological health. The results show that those who opposed or denied their feelings, refused to acknowledge dark emotions or came down on themselves for feeling bad were at higher risk for stress and pressure.
On the other hand, those who allowed themselves to feel sadness, disappointment or even jealousy and allowed the feelings to subside on their own reported having less emotional problems and bad moods.
“We’ve found that the way we approach our negative feelings is very important to our general health,” says senior researcher Bert Ford. “People who have these emotions and don’t criticize themselves or try to change those feelings are better able to deal with stress and work out these negative feelings.”
The participants were asked to fill out questionnaires where they had to rate with numbers how much they agree with sentences like: “I tell myself that I can’t feel this way.” Generally speaking, those who weren’t upset at themselves for being in a bad mood were in better emotional health than those who at every setback incessantly browbeat themselves.
The second part of the study had participants speak in a video recorded ‘job interview’ before judges. Afterwards they were asked to describe how much pressure they felt. The results showed that those who didn’t accept their feelings experienced far more pressure than those who accepted their feelings.
The third part of the research had 200 participants keep a diary for 2 weeks describing the most difficult things they’re experiencing. When they took a psychological mental health examination 6 months later the participants that held back on their negative emotions reported more emotional problems and bad moods than those who didn’t get upset about their negative emotions.
What does this tell us? We don’t need to wallow in depression but neither should we forcefully oppress every anger or feeling of lowliness. We may not be in the greatest mood but that’s okay; it’ll pass! The study concludes that fighting with your emotions and feelings will just make you feel bad longer.