...doesn't mean it's a bad emotion to feel.
We've been fed this idea that there are "good" emotions and "bad" emotions.
But emotions are just emotions...they're normal things to feel and experience for a time, the whole damn range of 'em.
In fact, it's totally okay to be angry with a friend or a partner who doesn't uphold their end of a perviously agreed upon bargain.
It's totally okay to have a day or five to be sad over something broken.
It's totally okay to be over-the-moon excited about a new crush, a new book, a new restaurant, or your new vacuum (it's a Dyson! Those motherfuckers are awesome!).
It's totally okay to be in love with your job, to put in extra hours because the sense of satisfaction you get from completing a project that you dreamed into existence pretty much trumps everything else in your life currently.
Look, I'm not even advocating for BALANCE in your emotions all the time always. Sometimes you'll be devastatingly sad for a moment, sometimes you'll be downright giddy. No big deal...it's on the spectrum of how a human feels in a lifetime.
All emotions, "good" or "bad," can teach us to find or propel us toward something new.
Joy can be a drug-like thing, pushing us to making positive things happen in our own lives and the lives of others. Gratitude is like a Mogwai in water, breeding ever more gratitude. Hope can get you out of bed on even the darkest of days.
We LIKE joy and gratitude and hope; that shit feels super nice, right?
There's a danger, however, in assuming that the only emotions worth having are the ones that feel like puppies and rainbows.
But anger can be an extremely useful emotion, even though it doesn't feel great while you experience it.
Anger can provide clarity over (perceived or real) injustice, allowing you to better articulate a problem and suggest a solution. Or, it can burn away lingering sadness after a breakup, paving the way to greater healing (and eventually, the ability to move on).
Anxiety helps us know that something is "off," that there's discord somewhere that needs resolution, like a little warning light that you need to try harder or back off or simply relax and breathe.
Sadness helps us process or grieve loss, it cleanses us in a way few things can, washing, re-setting, making room for happier memories, greater joy.
Because making room or providing contrast is one of the best things emotions do for us. As good old Brene´ Brown says:
“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Recent studies even show we don't (and probably shouldn't) experience just one of these negative or positive emotions at a time. In fact, this study (with a fan-freaking-tastic follow-up article here), says that
"The specific concurrent experience of happiness and sadness was associated with improvements in psychological well-being above and beyond the impact of the passage of time, personality traits, or the independent effects of happiness and sadness. Changes in mixed emotional experience preceded improvements in well-being."
Of course, prolonged negative feelings that make it difficult to feel anything else (e.g. prolonged anxiety, depression or shame) can be dangerous, and many people often need help from a professional to re-set.
But in the day to day scope of things, allow yourself to feel the broad range of what you, as a human, are capable of feeling.
Start with simply asking yourself why you feel a certain way. If it's a positive emotion and you nail down your "why," be grateful.
If it's a negative emotion and you nail down your "why," ask yourself how you can leverage that emotion for positive change.
Above all, don't beat yourself up for being sad or anxious or angry. Just be those things, feel them for a bit. By the time they pass, your capacity to experience something more pleasant will be greater.