Why validating your emotions is important

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Ever felt the need to be happier than you are, or felt embarrassed after getting upset about something trivial? A lot of people have, but why? Emotions have long been associated with the events that cause them–you enjoying some big party or event, making you happier than before, for example. This has led us to see emotions brought on by negative events as purely negative and vice versa. But emotions are far broader than a black and white, good or bad rating. Every emotion that we feel on a day to day basis is just as valid as any other, even if it’s a “negative” one.

But what makes an emotion valid or invalid? It’s how they are perceived. Many, many people invalidate their own emotions without even realizing. The most common example is not allowing yourself to be sad. Doing this creates a rift in your mind where you feel sad, angry, or uncomfortable but refuse to acknowledge it. When asked if they had ever felt embarrassed over an emotion, a senior at Washington High, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “Yes, my parents always talk about how hard of a life they had and that I should be happy to be born so lucky. Especially with my mom, ever since I could remember she would say things like ‘you’re so lucky to be born in America, born an American citizen. And I’ve been waiting years’ It seems that they don’t think I should be sad about anything because I have it so good and I always look back on the hardships they faced.” 

This student tells us how their emotions were invalidated not so much by themself, but by their parents. Many people compare their own struggles to someone else’s by being directly told that their problems aren’t as bad as someone else’s. This can be absolutely devastating to someone’s mental health, as they constantly think that they don’t deserve to feel as bad as they do simply because someone else also had to go through some tough times. In reality, having your struggles compared to someone else’s will do nothing but hurt you, making you think that any time you’re upset over something you’re being “unappreciative” of what you have just because “someone else has it worse.”

Every emotion, including the negative ones, serves a purpose. In an interview with Washington High’s psychology teacher Mr. Kim, he said, “I don’t think that there are any ‘bad’ emotions. I don’t think there are any ‘bad’ moods. Anger is a very important emotion to feel, it means you stand for something.” 

Mr. Kim makes the point that anger often comes from passion. Feeling overly passionate for something is hardly ever perceived as negative, but despite anger just being an extension of that passion, it’s seen as exclusively a bad thing. As for the negative effects of bottling emotions, Mr. Kim said, “When we bottle up too much stuff, it always comes out at the wrong time, at the wrong place, and at the wrong person.” Frequently, we hear stories of people snapping at their boss or their spouse, not out of any resentment towards them but because of suppressed emotions.

Acknowledging and accepting your feelings is more important than pretending you don’t have them. Everyone has emotions, so don’t hold yourself back and bottle them up; just accept them for what they are.

Clayton (Mae) Paxton is a 17 year old first year journalist born and raised right here in Fremont. They’ll gladly write an article about whatever catches their attention, but mainly they want to write about popular game releases and the history of gaming media. Predictably, their main hobby is playing video games but they also spend their free time ranting to their friends about how good whatever song that got stuck in their head is. Their plans for the future are just to make it to the next day and enjoy themselves doing it, ideally getting a job in the gaming industry but never worrying too much about any of that.

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