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3 Principles of Emotional Health – Use With Counseling

emotional health, counseling, individual therapyWhether you are in counseling or not, if you want to deal with emotions in a healthy manner, then start with the following principles about emotional health. These steps are a good companion to couples therapy. These are assumptions that underlie steps in Emotions 101.

You can use these principles as you participate in counseling for anxiety, depression, pornography or marriage problems

Emotions Matter

Simply put, emotions matter. You have had experiences in life that might seem to counter this. You have also had others teach you that emotions do not matter. They might not teach you directly by what they say, but they can certainly teach you through what they are not talking about – their emotions. When others say to you, ‘Be strong and stop crying’, recognize that this is an unhealthy way of dealing with emotions. They are teaching you that you are strong if you do not feel and that you are weak if you do feel. This is incorrect and unhealthy.

Actually, you are strong if you feel. It takes a lot of strength and courage to feel your emotions. It is hard to do and can be scary. It takes courage and strength to pick up your emotions instead of avoiding them. If you want to be emotionally healthy, believe that emotions matter. 

Emotions Are Not ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’

There is no such thing as a good or a bad emotion. There is no value you need to place on emotions. The problem calling emotions good or bad is that when you call an emotion ‘bad’ you start acting in unhealthy ways. You subsequently try to not feel your emotions at this point. You also might attribute ‘baddness’ to yourself and invoke shame for feeling your emotions. These are all unhealthy and unfair ways to go about emoting. 

There are, however, comfortable and uncomfortable emotions. Feeling sad is not bad, but rather it’s uncomfortable. Right? It’s not that it feels bad, it’s that it feels uncomfortable. It is ok to not want to feel an emotion because it is uncomfortable. If this is the case, then call it what it is: uncomfortable. This allows you to still feel it and not bring shame or avoidance to the table. 

You Choose What To Do With Your Emotions

We do not choose what we feel, we choose what we do with what we feel. The fact that an emotion is present is not up to us. However, we do choose what we do with that emotion when it shows up. That is what we have control over. Focus on what you have control over, not what you can’t control. This will save you time and heartache. 

I recently saw a woman wearing a shirt that says, ‘Choose Happiness’ – as if it were that easy. As if all you have to do is choose to be happy and you will be happy. If that were the case, no one would be sad. Would you ever choose to be sad? No. It’s uncomfortable and undesirable. 

So what happens, then, when you try to ‘choose happiness’ and you are still sad? You probably will start to think you are broken. You could also think something is wrong with you because ‘choosing happiness’ did not work.

This simply is not fair to yourself as a human with a wide range of emotions. Let yourself experience and express all emotions. Without that sadness, you would not know what happiness is. 

Couples, individuals and families in counseling can build their emotional capacity through these principles. Sometimes healthy principles you learn are hard to apply. Therapists can help you apply them in your individual life and in your relationships. 

Schedule an individual counseling session in Utah – South Jordan, Orem, American Fork and Spanish Fork. 

Written by Triston Morgan, PhD, Utah Marriage and Family Therapist

Utah Therapy

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