How Can I Not Feel So Bad About Feeling Bad (and Feel Good Again)?

Feeling guilty about feeling bad, about depression, anxiety, or other emotions, can be really difficult. You may think when you experienced an emotion based on a response to another emotion you were having ‘all the feelings.’ Watching a movie that made you cry, or feeling guilty for feeling happy when good things happen to you. It’s okay to let the good feelings in and not feel so bad about it.

Why Feelings Matter

Meta-emotions are those feelings about a feeling. Over half of adults may experience meta-emotions once a week. That’s a lot of feelings to be having. Meta-emotions are classified into four types:

  • Negative-negative: feeling embarrassed about feeling sad
  • Negative-positive: feeling guilty about feeling happy
  • Positive-positive: feeling hopeful about feeling relieved
  • Positive-negative: feeling pleased about feeling angry

People who have more frequent negative-negative meta-emotions may also experience more depression. When negative emotions are attached, the risk of feeling badly about them goes up. Feelings of depression can lead to having the negative-negative meta-emotions but it can happen the other way around, too.

Coping with Feelings

It is important to know which emotions you are feeling before you start to change reactions based on those emotions. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) often is used to help people manage difficult emotions, encouraging you to label emotions with words. Finding other ways to quantify what you feel can be helpful. This also helps to appreciate your negative emotions and the work they do for you. If your ancestors had never been scared when they saw a dangerous animal, you might not be here. You might not be motivated to stay in recovery if you did not feel what you do about getting better. Your negative emotions are important signals that alert you to when something is not right. They are signals of a need for more support.
The good part is you get to choose how you feel. If you struggle with this, there are mental health experts, therapists, and others trained to support you in finding ways of better dealing with your emotions. There are better ways of coping than others but you cannot always find your way if you are struggling in the darkness. It is best to let someone know you need help and ask for that support. If you want additional help, speak to family and friends to see who can help you and reach out to them.

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