Opinion: There is no such thing as a negative emotion

by Yvette Ratshikhopha
Consulting Strategist | Entrepreneur | Thought Leader | Life Coach | EA Contributor
Yvette, an avid reader and nature adventurer, has been a life coach based in Johannesburg for a year now. She’s held multiple workshops and has one-on-one sessions with the objective of helping others become the best version of themselves. Here is what she had to say about emotions and mental health:


Recently, there has been a rise in mental health campaigns all over South Africa. People are becoming more aware of the importance of being in a good mental state and the impact that mental health issues have on every area in one’s life. It could be from your career to your relationships, but more especially the relationship that you have with yourself.

One of the things that people need to touch on is the role emotions play when it comes to mental health but, before we go into that, we need to define exactly what emotions are.

Emotions are energy in motion.

With that said, they are meant to be felt and then allowed to pass. Picture an electric current and how that energy flows through a wire to another source. That is how emotions flow through our bodies.

I can’t speak for other cultures but in black communities one often finds parents smacking their kids when they are sad or crying. For many this translates to thinking that emotions are a negative thing whereas, ultimately, there are no negative emotions. For example, fear keeps us from running into the road and getting hit by a car, sadness allows us to let go, anger allows us to set boundaries, it says “Speak up! You deserve better.” All of these emotions have a purpose, just like joy and excitement.

The only time these emotions stop serving us is when we hold on to them for too long. When you hold on to anger it becomes resentment, when you hold on to fear it becomes anxiety, and when you stay sad for too long it becomes depression.

Remember the analogy about emotions being energy in motion? Well, that is exactly what you need to do with all types of emotions. In order to maintain a healthy mental state we need to learn to allow ourselves to feel what we need to feel and then let it go. Children do this so well. They cry and move past it, and often when they are sad they communicate it. When they feel fear they express it and when necessary they don’t let it hold them back. We can learn so much from them.

As a life coach I have had to assist clients who never allowed themselves to grieve and struggled to move on simply because they never allowed themselves to be sad. Through the strategies we use in neuro-linguistic programming I had to take them back to the events so they could experience that sadness and then let it go.

When we don’t allow ourselves to be sad that energy stays with us and it does not serve us. Sadness is a way of releasing ‘negative’ energy and plays a crucial role in our healing process.

Emotions are a necessary part of maintaining good mental health. Next time you find yourself feeling sad, remember that it is okay, it’s normal to feel these emotions so that you can heal.

Also remember not to stay there, but to feel so that you can let it go. Just like the seasons… Winter and Summer, each emotion has its purpose and your journey to healing begins with not seeing emotions as wrong.


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