All Emotions Are Welcome

by Joe Acciaioli, LCSW #81140
When I first meet a new client, they often say they’ve come to therapy hoping to “feel better.” While this certainly makes sense, there are times when it’s important to open up to–and explore with curiosity–the “negative” emotions that your mind presents you with. If we seek only to feel better, then we’re essentially avoiding those tough emotions–which in the end just leads to more suffering. I put the word “negative” in quotation marks a moment ago, because emotions are really just suggestions for action that our mind gives to us. “What does this emotion want from me?” “What would it look like to act on this emotion in a way that’s consistent with my values?” These can be useful questions to ask yourself.
Eastern psychology tells us that there can be a great deal to learn from so-called negative emotions. If you’ve ever gained wisdom and a sense of growth from a time of crisis, then you have already experienced this. But often, we lose sight of this possibility when we are in the
middle of a crisis. Going through a crisis with grace and dignity becomes much easier when we open up to our difficult emotions, allowing them to be present without resistance.
When depression and anxiety rear their heads, it can be helpful to view them with curiosity rather than aversion. “Yes…there is depression.” “And–oh, hello–there is anxiety.” “I see you, and I feel you showing up inside my body.” Maybe you feel some muscle tension with depression. Maybe shortness of breath with anxiety. Try noticing these emotions on the body level–on the level of sensation–and you are on the path toward opening up to emotions rather than pushing them away.

All emotions are welcome. I often tell my clients the goal is not to feel better, but to feel better. The key is learning how to be in a better relationship with your emotions, even when they are “negative.’ The ability to regulate our emotions is one of the keys to good mental health, and opening up to them–all of them–is an important step in that direction.

Joe Acciaioli is a licensed clinical social worker registered with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.  Joe provides therapy sessions in-person and online from his office at Inspired Life Counseling.

Joe is a deep thinker and meets his clients with his full self present in the room.  He takes in everything his client is saying and weighs it against what he knows of their life history.  He uses his clinical experience and advanced trainings to help his clients learn to assert their own values within their lives and their relationships.  Using education, insight, and directed questioning to help others find their answers you can tell he’s truly enjoying his experience with each person and helping them find a new path for their lives so they can live more fully and more joy-filled lives.

If you’re in California, you can schedule an appointment with Joe by calling (530) 809-1702 or filling out his online appointment request HERE.