What if we add up all the time we spend avoiding unpleasant feelings? The collective minutes spent on our phones, watching Netflix, drinking (and it’s aftermath!), or overeating just to avoid discomfort. I’m sure War and Peace was written in less time than I’ve spent in service to this cause.

Beyond reclaiming the lost time, here are a few reasons to stop dodging your negative feelings and to, instead, start inviting them in for coffee:

⚠️They act as a warning light. If we feel a sense of dread when our spouse walks through the door or we feel miserable every day at work, that’s a sign there is work to be done. If we drink over the top of it or escape every night through Orange is the New Black, it makes the stuff that isn’t working in our life palatable. Duh, you think. That’s the point. But, in your heart of hearts, you know you don’t always want to live this way. Better to face it head-on and start living the life you want.

⛽️ They can be the fuel we need. When doing new, challenging, scary things, what do we need? Courage!! We romanticize courage and think it sounds nifty but in reality it kind of sucks. It feels terrible. But if we aren’t willing to feel it, we will stay stuck living lives we’ve outgrown. Discomfort of all flavors paves the path to your goals.

😀😔They provide contrast. If every day were a winner would you appreciate it? Or are the good days just a little better because you have the bad days to compare them to? Can you have exciting without boring? Joy without despair? Or would life just be one long, flat line?

At the end of the day, bad feeling emotions are part of the full human experience. Most of us have come to fear feeling bad though and avoid it all costs. If we accept that negative emotions are part of the deal and even expect them half of the time, we could move through them much more easily. We could spare ourselves the suffering that comes with avoiding or resisting them. We may even learn to welcome them.