The power of accepting negative emotions
In a paper published in 2018* Ford and colleagues suggest that individuals who accept rather than judge their mental experiences may attain better psychological health, in part because acceptance helps them experience less negative emotion in response to stressors.
According to their analysis, the power of acceptance is in its blunting effect on emotional reactions to stressful events. It is that mechanism that can, over time, lead to positive psychological health, including higher levels of life satisfaction. In other words, accepting dark emotions like anxiety or rage, won’t bring you down or amplify the emotional experience.
Acceptance seems to be linked to better mental health when it is used in response to negative emotions, not positive ones, so this is not about being detached but rather fully experiencing the emotions as they occur.
They assert that acceptance is more connected to better psychological health than other mental modes that fall under the general umbrella of “mindfulness,” such as practicing non-reactivity, for instance, or simply observing. “You need to pay attention to your internal experience,” says Ford, “but acceptance, non-judging acceptance, seems to be the key ingredient to mindfulness.”
* Ford, B. Q., Lam, P., John, O. P., & Mauss, I. B. (2018). The psychological health benefits of accepting negative emotions and thoughts: Laboratory, diary, and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 115(6), Dec 2018, 1075-1092. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000157
The first public event – a one-day workshop on 21st November - based on my latest book Red Brain Blue Brain is now open for registration. This is suitable for teaching staff at any level from the newly graduated to those in senior positions and is a good way for a school to get a taste of what is possible. For more information and to register go here.
John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter. Earlier blogs can be found here.