Accept emotions, including depression

Emotions arise in all of us from time to time, and it is inevitable that some of these will be negative. Although it is difficult to stop an occasional feeling of sadness, anger, jealousy, or depression, we can do a lot to stop these feelings from magnifying. A key characteristic of emotion is that a fleeting twinge of sadness can rapidly expand to fill our entire being with sorrow. When we learn to block this process, negative emotions simply become mere annoyances, and do not take over our minds.

One way to do this is to be more accepting. When depression arises, we must not panic, dwell on it, and run around frantically looking for a cure. Instead we simply accept the feeling, observe it. Maybe we can even be curious about it and ask ourselves how it feels physically, and notice the negative thoughts that flow from it. The important thing is that we are not making a big deal out of the feeling. Ironically, this makes it pass away more quickly.

The same procedure applies to other emotions. For example, if we feel angry, we can simply accept this anger, observe it, perhaps notice the resulting tension in our stomach and the stream of negative thoughts that we are directing towards the person or situation. This is much better than treating the anger as some big emergency and acting aggressively in response to it. That would only make things worse!

We must learn not to take our emotions too seriously. They are a useful feedback mechanism to help guide our lives to peace and happiness, but when we take them too seriously, they become the very things that impede a life of peace and happiness. Reacting strongly to emotions is analogous to accidentally cutting your finger, and then chopping off your entire hand in an effort to remove the pain. Things rapidly spiral out of control. Hence, we must accept emotions, and learn to simply relax.

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