We are often told that we need to keep a positive outlook regardless of whether we have negative emotions. Toxic positivity is something we’ve been taught since we were kids. But is it the proper way to acknowledge our unwanted feelings?
According to a study conducted at UC Berkely, the pressure to feel positive all the time can eventually make you feel down. The same study says that embracing your dark moods is better in the long run.
The UC Berkeley Research
The research done by US Berkeley explains why people who are constantly pressured to feel upbeat are also constantly feeling downbeat. The study also explains the benefits of actually embracing your negativity.
We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health.Iris Mauss, Associate Professor of Psychology at UC Berkely
The researchers of the study speculate that accepting our joyless emotions would eventually defuse itself. Similar to how dark clouds pass 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. And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.Iris Mauss, Associate Professor of Psychology at UC Berkely
The study was done at UC Berkeley and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in 1,300 adults within the San Francisco Bay Area and the Denver, Colorado metropolitan area. The study was separated into three groups and conducted in various according to different demographics like age, gender, socio-economic status, and other variables.
It’s easier to have an accepting attitude if you lead a pampered life, which is why we ruled out socio-economic status and major life stressors that could bias the results.Iris Mauss, Associate Professor of Psychology at UC Berkely
(Source: UC Berkeley)
The Results of the Study
The study results show that people who resist acknowledging their dark emotions or judge them hardly end up feeling even more stressed than those who do. Those who generally allow negative feelings like sadness, resentment, and disappointment to run their natural course, are reported to have fewer mood disorder symptoms.
It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being. People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.Brett Ford, Assistant Professor of Pyschology at the University of Toronto
In the laboratory setting, 150 participants were tasked with delivering a three-minute speech to a panel of judges as part of a mock job application. They were given two minutes to prepare their communication skills and other qualifications. More than 200 people were tasked to journal their most tasking experience over two weeks in the final study. When they were checked after six months, the participants who avoided sharing negative emotions reported more mood disorder symptoms than their non-judgemental peers.
The next phase of the study focuses on how different cultures and upbringing influence the way some people are and how they are more accepting of their ups and downs.
By asking parents about their attitudes about their children’s emotions, we may be able to predict how their children feel about their emotions, and how that might affect their children’s mental health.Iris Mauss, Associate Professor of Psychology at UC Berkely
(Source: UC Berkeley)