Feeling ‘Bad’ is Actually Good for You!

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A person sits next to a window with a concerned expression. This could represent the negative emotions a Christian counselor in Hillsboro, OR can offer support in coping with. Learn more about online therapy in Portland, OR, and other services by searching “online therapy Oregon” today.

by Shane Fookes, MA MDiv, Registered Counseling Associate

When asked what brings them to therapy, clients often talk about feeling bad. A common response they hear from me is, “Bad is a label you’re placing on a particular feeling. I wonder what that feeling is.” We then explore together what the client might be feeling. Usually, it’s a “negative emotion” like sadness, anger, fear, despair, or disgust. Though few people like feeling these emotions, they are actually very important emotions to feel. When I say this to a client, I usually receive a quizzical look in return!

A woman comforts their daughter as they cover their face. Learn how online therapy in Portland, OR can help you in coping with negative emotions by searching “online therapy oregon” or contacting a Christian counselor in Hillsboro, OR.

Every Emotion has a Good Purpose

Simply put, we need all our emotions. Though not every emotion is comfortable, each of them has an important purpose. Sadness lets you know you’ve lost something important. Fear lets you know something important to you is being threatened. Anger lets you know something important to you has been violated. Despair means you’ve lost connection to a source of hope. Disgust means something you find beautiful has been marred. These emotions are not only an important part of being human, but they are also necessary for navigating difficult circumstances. 

Because we don’t like feeling these emotions, we often try to suppress them. But suppressing certain emotions is a short-term solution with long-term consequences. The biological systems in our bodies involved with emotions do not distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ emotions. We either feel or we don’t feel. When we suppress difficult emotions, our bodies learn that all emotions are unwelcome. Eventually, this leaves us dull, numb and robbed of a vibrant life. It also hinders our ability to connect relationally with other people so we feel isolated. And it can lead to stress-related health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or stroke.

Common Strategies for Suppressing Emotions

You may think you do not suppress emotions. That’s because we usually have subtle ways of doing so. Here are a few common strategies:

A man looks at himself in a reflection with a blank look. Learn how a Christian counselor in Hillsboro, OR can help support you from the comfort of home via online therapy in Portland, OR. Contact them to learn more about online anxiety treatment in Oregon and other services.
  • Playing “suffering Olympics.” Deflecting from emotions by comparing your situation to others who are experiencing (or have experienced) greater struggles.
  • Glossing over with platitudes. Employing simplistic sayings (and Bible passages) to avoid thinking about or processing your (or someone else’s) experience. Examples: “Everything happens for a reason.” “God’s teaching you something.” “You just need to trust in the Lord.” “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
  • Critiquing reactions. Evaluating, critiquing, and judging how others (and yourself) respond to difficult circumstances.
  • Presuming intent. Minimizing emotions by declaring the other(s) involved “didn’t mean it.”

These are merely a few of the ways we suppress emotions.

Expanding for Emotion

So, what can you do instead of suppressing difficult emotions? In short, you expand for them. The reality about emotions is they come and go. They are temporary biological processes that occur in your body as you interact with your environment. The biggest grief, the fiercest anger, the most intense fear, and the deepest despair do not last forever. The more you learn how to make room for them, the greater your capacity to have them.

And why is this important? Well, for two reasons in particular. First, expanding your capacity for unpleasant emotions makes more room for pleasant ones! Your ability to feel joy, satisfaction, contentment, and peace is directly linked to your ability to navigate your darker emotions. Second, it grows intimacy. Intimacy involves knowing and being known, which requires honesty. When you access and communicate the difficult emotions that come with a painful circumstance, you relationally connect with others with authentic intimacy.

A close up of a person gesturing with a clipboard while sitting across from a woman. This could represent the support a Christian counselor in Hillsboro, OR can offer via online therapy in Portland, OR. learn more about online anxiety treatment in Oregon and other therapy services.

In summary, becoming emotionally healthy means learning how to feel well rather than always needing to feel well. Though expanding for difficult emotions seems harder in the short term, in the long run, it benefits both you and those you care about most.

Consider Online Therapy in Oregon for Christian Counseling

Our Clackamas and Beaverton-based counselors are excited to work with you, wherever you are in Oregon. Your relationships can thrive again. We can help you get back on track in a way that aligns with your faith and values. When you are ready to start online Christian counseling in Oregon, follow these simple steps:

  1. Learn about our therapy team in Beaverton and our caring counselors in Clackamas
  2. Schedule an appointment with your preferred therapist, or contact us with questions
  3. Feel more connected to the important people in your life

Other Mental Health Services at Life Discovery Counseling in Oregon

If you are in Clackamas, Happy Valley, Damascus, Hillsboro, or Beaverton, we can help you in person at one of our comfortable therapy clinicsChristian counseling is the cornerstone of our approach to therapy. Not only do we see adults, but children in counseling too. We also work with depression treatmentanxiety therapytrauma therapy and PTSD treatmentrelationship issuesmarriage problems, and postpartum counseling. No matter where you are in the state, we can provide the support you need with online therapy in Oregon. Once you’re ready to start, we’re ready to meet you. Let’s connect!

About the Author

Shane Fookes is a graduate of Western Seminary’s Counseling program and a Registered Counseling Associate. He served as a pastor for 17 years and is still involved in leading churches. He writes about marriage and relationship issues, anxiety, depression, and spiritual development.

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