Study tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health.
Washington: Want to feel the sunshine? Embrace the cloudiness of your darker moods according to a recent study, feeling bad about feeling bad can make you feel worse.
The research from the University of California, Berkeley found that the pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run. "We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health," said senior author Iris Mauss.
At this point, researchers can only speculate on why accepting your joyless emotions can defuse them, like dark clouds passing swiftly in front of the sun and out of sight. "Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you're not giving them as much attention," Mauss said. "And perhaps, if you're constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up."
The study tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Denver, Co., metropolitan area. The results suggested that people who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed.
By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months. "It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being," said lead author Brett Ford. "People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully."
The study is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.