Feeling bad about feeling bad - the human tendency to feel badly about their negative, rather non-ideal, emotional or behavioral responses to activating life events. This is something that Albert Ellis addresses in the ABC model of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy and is described as reinforcing an already self defeating belief system.
In doing this we invalidate the human experience and encourage the irrational belief that, if faced with difficulty one should always have their armor handy because, well, all negative emotions are BAD.
It is useful to point out that negative emotions do not all fit into the ‘unhealthy’ category. Unhealthy emotions can actually be quite useful to humans (feeling scared of walking in the dark alleyway alone at night) and act as appropriate responses to let’s say, loss. Unhealthy negative emotions, according to the REBT approach, are described as: depressed mood, rage, fear, unbearableness, anxiety and any emotion that creates barriers for one to see the possibility of a brighter tomorrow. Unhealthy behavioral consequences are comprised of those that are harmful in some way (I.e. social isolation).
Let’s say, for example, you have been procrastinating with an assignment and later experience feelings of worthlessness upon reflecting about the procrastination. This is a total double wammy to ones well-being and is a prime example of how it is ones own belief system that is the causation of the barriers they are encountering, preventing one from actually accomplishing the task at hand, not the task itself.
If you find yourself in this position all too often working with a professional who specialize in REBT will help you identify self defeating beliefs and work towards developing unconditional acceptance. Instead of feeling bad about feeling bad, therapy guides you towards developing the tools to actively dispute the irrational beliefs that elicit the negative unhealthy emotions.
An REBT counselor understands the difference between positive thinking and healthy thinking and will promote emotional responsibility. So instead of feeling bad about feeling bad, we can acknowledge the complexities of life and the negative emotions they elicit, but most importantly that you have control over the way you feel in those difficult circumstances by thinking in an accepting way.
Lauren is a Therapist in New York providing relationship counseling and sex therapy for individuals and couples. Are you ready for insight and change?