Why Shouldn’t I Avoid My Negative Emotions?

When you feel a negative emotion or go through emotional pain, it can be easy to want to get rid of it and move on. You may even feel inclined to avoid it, so you don’t have to deal with the pain associated with it. However, avoiding negative emotions can lead to more problems in the future; this is one reason why addiction can keep people stuck in a cycle of feeling negative emotions, avoiding them, and then the feelings coming back stronger. By learning how to acknowledge and accept what you are feeling, you can improve your emotional health and boost your recovery over time, even if it hurts. 

The Discomfort of Pain Motivates Improvement

It can be easy to become complacent where you are in life, especially when it comes to addiction. The farther you sink, the more you may believe that you are not worth recovering or healing. However, feeling pain can point to a part of your life that needs evaluation and change. Being aware of pain sends a signal to your brain that something isn’t right and needs to be fixed. You may not know that you can and deserve to do better without it. Through pain, motivation can be found to change your life and improve your wellbeing.

It’s Important to Take a Step Back

Just as it is easy to become complacent in life, it is just as easy to fall into a routine that doesn’t serve your best interest. When you begin feeling hurt, angry, or upset about something in your life, it could be signaling you to take a step back and take a new inventory of what deserves to be in your life and what needs to be gone. Those who have struggled with addiction, realizing that drugs or alcohol do not give as much pleasure as they once did, can be a turning point to reach out and get help. Avoiding these emotions is not recommended, as you will never know when to take a step back and reassess your life without them.

You Can’t Have Good Without the Bad

While you may think it would be nice never to experience pain, sadness, anger, grief, and other negative emotions, it is crucial to recognize that you wouldn’t know how good you have it without experiencing the lows. Feeling good all the time can cause you to take the positive things in your life for granted. When you experience low points, you will be more inclined to appreciate the good things in life and focus on them even more.

Avoidance Can Make Emotions Stronger

Many individuals who come face-to-face with complex emotions that cause pain or discomfort often try tactics to avoid them, thinking that this will make them go away. Avoidance can come through distraction such as using drugs or alcohol or engaging in harmful behaviors to keep your mind off of the pain. However, avoiding negative emotions will only make them stronger over time. Once the effects of the drugs wear off or you find a place to slow down, you may be overwhelmed with sadness, grief, anger, etc. Instead of avoiding what your mind wants you to feel, it is best to acknowledge these feelings, sit with them, and work through them at your own pace.

Tough Times Bring You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Often, strong negative emotions arise from a place of fear. You become comfortable with where you are in life and don’t want to grow or change anything. However, this can result in unresolved issues that cause trouble later on. For example, when you feel angry, it could stem from a place of fear of something happening that you are not comfortable with. Learning how to accept this emotion and the changes that come along with it can help you go out of your comfort zone and experience the best that life has to offer.

How to Work Through Negative Emotions

Knowing how to work through your negative emotions is the first step in growing from them. Follow these steps the next time you feel them coming on to learn from them:

  1. Acknowledge the emotion
  2. Sit with it and consider how it makes you feel
  3. Ask yourself what could be causing the emotion, going down to the root of it
  4. Differentiate between negative emotions and negative thoughts
  5. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling bad
  6. Engage in self-care to help pull yourself up


Many individuals struggling with addiction often started using drugs and alcohol to avoid the pain in their lives. However, avoiding negative emotions can lead to numerous unfavorable consequences. By understanding these consequences, one may be more inclined to learn how to cope with emotional pain rather than avoid it; this is especially important in recovery. Individuals need to know how to sit with negative emotions since they inevitably appear at different points in life. Learning how to handle negative emotions is a way of preventing relapse and promoting long-term sobriety. You can learn how to cope with these and more to boost your recovery at Northstar Transitions. Our staff is expertly trained in helping our clients learn about emotional regulation and other coping strategies to support long-term sobriety. The Northstar difference is clinical excellence, evidence-based therapeutic modalities, personalized treatment plans, and our location in the serene and majestic setting of Boulder, Colorado. Call us today to learn more at (303) 558-6400 and start your healing journey. Navigating real-life recovery begins at Northstar.

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