15 Unexpected Benefits Of Embracing Your Darkest Emotions

15 Unexpected Benefits Of Embracing Your Darkest Emotions Shutterstock

Let me raise a question: what is light without darkness? Society teaches us to focus on the good, overcome negative emotions, and treat anger, sadness, and fear as enemies.  But here’s the thing: many of us would benefit from allowing those negative feelings to have a safe space in us, a place where they can be seen, felt, and heard. This enables them to transform into something powerful, pushing us forward rather than holding us back. Here are a few reasons to consider letting yourself experience negative feelings and the unexpected benefits of embracing your darkest emotions.

1. It can make you happier overall.

There are many benefits to embracing your darkness, such as freedom, self-acceptance, a feeling of control, and emotional balance, to name a few. All of these factors will contribute to an overall happier life. Similar to when you’re on a diet, letting yourself indulge in a craving once in a while can prevent you from binging; embracing darkness can prevent it from taking up too much of your mental and emotional processing. Moreover, easing the shame and confusion you feel around it can mean you have a better self-image and outlook.

2. You heal your inner child.

Most of us have learned to push our emotions away since childhood, when our parents would tell us not to cry or be scared. Instead of seeing these feelings through, we hid and now bring this pattern into adulthood. Our inner child never learned to feel their feelings or how to face negative emotions—as adults, we owe it to that crying child to let them know it’s okay to be scared.

3. You can be wholly yourself.

Darkness and light are two sides of the same coin. Everyone has a dark side or emotions that they think are ugly and unlovable, but even if they are hard to face, they’re still a part of you. Realizing that you, everything you are, and everything you feel is worthy of love can be a huge asset in self-expression and acceptance. By embracing your darker emotions, you embrace the parts of you that have been neglected, strengthening the whole of you.

4. It can help manage stress.

Many would rather not look at things that frighten or upset us. However, studies have shown that the harder we try to avoid these things, the more they affect us. It may be unpleasant or scary at first to acknowledge feelings of jealousy, hatred, or prejudice, but when you own them, they cannot control you from the shadows anymore.  Once it’s out in the open, no one can hold them against you, not even yourself, which can be a huge relief.

5. It helps you grow self-awareness.

We can better understand the emotions we’ve been distancing ourselves from by looking closely at them. You can see the intricacies of the darkest parts of yourself, where they originated, what they truly are, and how to handle them. Acknowledging that you have these feelings is ultimately better than denying them; in recognizing them, you acknowledge yourself at your core.

6. You cultivate self-acceptance.

We all know it’s far easier to love the parts of yourself that are positive or others have approved. However, it can be much harder to love the parts of ourselves that others view poorly or that we’re biased against. If you can embrace the parts of yourself that are less ideal, it means you can radically accept yourself as a whole. Human nature is not to be perfect; it is not to be all good all the time; it is time for us to hold space for the parts of our nature that don’t get as much love.

7. You will feel brave.

Facing the parts of yourself that you’re less fond of can be a scary prospect. Most of us have built up these dark emotions to seem like a terrifying monster under the bed, so it takes significant willpower to lift the sheets up and stare at them. This darkness only has the power we give it though, and by looking at it and treating it less like a monster and more like a dust bunny, the fear around it will melt away. It doesn’t mean the initial peek will be any easier, but at least you can feel brave knowing you were willing to look at all.

8. It helps with managing emotions.

You cannot understand something you haven’t studied, and your emotions are no different. How can we learn to manage our anger unless we feel it, notice where it sits in our bodies, and note what spurned it? You don’t have to let it rage, but you do have to sit with it and examine it for a while. By embracing our darkest emotions, we give ourselves the chance to understand and later accept them, and by practicing our emotional regulation, we become better at managing our feelings overall.

9.  You improve your mental health.

Embracing your inner darkness can help you take control and live more authentically. It also allows you to manage your emotions better without getting caught up in a cycle of guilt and shame. This, in turn, may improve your mental health. Those who are willing to dig into those darker urges have less anxiety and depression. They can also see things in a neutral or positive light, contributing to a more optimistic worldview.

10. It makes you more empathetic.

The attitude of acceptance you have cultivated around your emotions is good for you and those you care about the most. The care and understanding you show yourself then become the same care you give to others. Loving your darkness means you will be more tolerant of other people’s less desirable traits. You can even use your self-accepting attitude to start a movement—encourage others to do the same and improve people’s lives!

11. You can stop hiding.

I can’t stress how important it is to be honest with yourself. You are the only person who can hold yourself accountable, and lying to yourself can lead you down a destructive path. Being honest about the things you feel, even your dark thoughts, is essential to building trust with yourself. Hiding will only prolong a cycle of stress and dishonesty; the sooner you can come to terms with the things you feel, the better.

12. You show yourself compassion.

What are dark feelings, really? They’re emotional reactions that’ve gone further than we might have wanted them to. At their core, they are needs we have ignored, not honored, and not addressed. In response, they get stronger and grow teeth, so we have no choice but to see them. When you stop treating dark emotions as an enemy, something to escape from, or a burden, you can begin to show yourself and your emotions compassion. You can trim away the thorns and get to the root of the things that hurt, and then by healing them, you heal yourself.

13.  You accept your phases as natural.

Please don’t believe the hype when people say they’ve eliminated bad feelings or never have dark emotional reactions. It’s simply not true; more than that, it’s dangerous. Dark emotions and thoughts are a natural part of life and human nature. So much so that even ancient Buddhists had a concept of the shadow self; you can’t always be happy and carefree, and lying about that is doing yourself a disservice. The moon has phases, and so do you—neither should be considered flawed.

14. You can get the support you need.

If you find yourself grappling with your dark emotions, unable to access them or accept them, it can be a sign that you need to seek out extra support to reach your goals. Those who never try to self-examine or check in on their emotional inventory may not realize that they need help, which can lock them in a cycle of struggle where they don’t have the tools to escape. When you at least try to embrace your darkest emotions, you give yourself a better chance to find peace with yourself.

15. You realize it’s only temporary.

One of the biggest takeaways from exploring your dark side is perspective. There are just as many moments of light and acceptance for all the bad thoughts or challenging emotions you see and experience. The things you feel do not define you and will not last forever. Embracing your darkness is holding the wounded parts of yourself through the storm and saying, “We will get through this together.” Inevitably, the storm will pass, and you will come out the other side happier and stronger for doing so.

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