A recent study in the journal Emotion shows that when we judge negative feelings as inappropriate, we are more likely to feel anxious, less satisfied with life, and experience depression. In essence, negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, frustration, or fear are not always detrimental to our wellbeing. Rather, it’s our judgment of these emotions that directly lead to unhappiness.
As a society, we are more open to talking about negative feelings and emotions—-progress for sure. But a possible downside is the worry that comes with being in tuned with how we feel. A dip in our emotions is natural and important. The study reminds us that emotions have a purpose. Instead of judging or trying to suppress them, we can work towards asking why we have these emotions in the first place. In short, we embrace them. This way, we get to “accept” the emotion, and assess how to address the causes.
Additionally, emotions tend to be “short-lived”. Sometimes, all we need to do is let them pass.
One way to teach the concept of non-judgement when it comes to emotions is in savasana. I had a teacher at Corepower yoga who incorporated this mental mindset during savanna, which focused on non-judgment and letting go:
“Let your breath go and let your mind wander. See what comes up for you if you set the mind free. Imagine yourself detached from these thoughts—a bystander watching them go by. Just let whatever appears in your thoughts come to you and fade away. There’s no judgment, no overthinking.”
If you want to be more specific, you can add:
“Did you think of a person you love? A happy moment? Or maybe a life-changing decision you’ve been thinking about?” No matter how big or small, don’t judge the thought or yourself. The thought appeared, and now you’re letting it go.”