Dealing with ‘ugly’ emotions


By Maia Roston, Second Year, Philosophy

The Croft Magazine // Being faced with emotions commonly seen as  ‘ugly’ or unpleasant can be difficult as we believe their presence is a reflection on who we are, when this is far from the case. Maia considers how to cope with such feelings through recognition and acceptance.

Our emotions fluctuate daily with negative and positive sentiments making up the way we perceive the situations that we find ourselves in. We live in an endless cycle of, in very simple terms, feeling happy and sad. Our lives are made up of these feelings and it is learning how to deal with the branded ‘ugly emotions’ which allows us to lead more abundant lives that are filled with as much happiness as possible.

We all face distinctive issues but what remains consistent is having uncontrollable, unpleasant feelings that can powerfully supersede rationality . During this time, one can feel extremely overwhelmed by ‘ugly emotions’.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by so-called 'ugly' emotions | Epigram / Alice Proctor

What I have started to realise is what we internalise is essentially grounded in our view of the external. What I mean by this is that our world is coloured by the way we feel on the inside. Often these feelings of jealousy or any other ‘ugly emotion’ can lead to an overpowering feeling of anxiety.

It is a state that we as humans seem unable to control. Whether we are jealous of a friend or expressing bitterness towards a family member, it is extremely hard to repress these emotions.

Instead, it can be easier to accept the way we feel. To acknowledge you are experiencing a certain emotion and  that most things are temporary can be comforting. However, I believe that this is the easier approach. We can always learn to accept the way we are feeling; the challenge is confronting why.

We need to not only accept our feelings, but try to understand them | Epigram / Alice Proctor

Once we ask ourselves why we are in a negative mind-set that we are then able to overcome our unpleasant emotions. Thus, it is vital to confront our ‘jealous’ or ‘bitter’ feelings as soon as we recognise they are beginning to cloud our judgment.

Firstly, ask yourself ‘will I be feeling this way in a week’? Half of our problems can be eliminated with this question. Our emotions are so intense at the climax of a setback that we overlook the fact that the following week we could be in a radically different headspace.

However, if you think that feeling of ‘jealousy’ or ‘bitterness’ will still be haunting you, it is essential to reach the core reason of why it is there. Many times, we think we understand the reason we experience negative emotions but, in actuality, it can go much deeper than the surface level.

Going over the reasons you're feeling a certain way can help to clarify and calm | Epigram / Alice Proctor

Take the time to sit down with no distractions and think peacefully, retracing all the reasons for the way you are feeling. You will surprise yourself at how often you are mistaken about the genuine reason that your ‘ugly emotion’ has materialised.

Lastly, if after any of the above, you still seem unable to resolve your negative feelings, reach out to a close friend. Often an outside perspective can be all you need to grasp the crux of your ugly emotion.

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In the summer, it took two weeks of me having the same unpleasant emotions for my best friend to enlighten me as to why I was feeling miserable. I have learnt never to underestimate the way our friends understand us, it is sometimes on a level that we cannot access ourselves.

While it is a process, once you acknowledge the reasons behind your emotions, you will begin to feel so much better. Whether you accept, confront, or reach out to somebody, ultimately, our emotions are transient and once we acknowledge this our ‘ugly emotions’ begin to seem much less daunting.

Featured image: Epigram / Alice Proctor