Injustice - 4 Emotions for Mental Health Awareness (Part 2 of 4)

May 09, 2024

4 Emotions to Focus on During Mental Health Awareness Month (Part 2 of 4)

 It’s Mental Health Awareness Month! Time to turn our attention to mental health and check in with ourselves. It’s a great time to ask: How am I doing? What have I been feeling lately? How can I course correct to live a little more authentically this month?

This May, I invite you to center around acceptance and surrender by focusing on four authentic emotions:

  • Eustress (vs. Distress)
  • Injustice (vs. Anger/Hatred)
  • Humility (vs. Worthlessness)
  • Belonging (vs. Fitting In)

In this article, I will discuss the first two emotions: Eustress and Injustice. Part Two will hone in on Humility and Belonging. 

Eustress and Injustice are authentic emotions that deal with accepting our emotions as helpful responses.

The authentic emotions of eustress and injustice are both tied to counterfeit emotions that we generally view as “bad” or “negative”: distress(stress) and anger/hatred. Stress and anger are sometimes considered “bad emotions.”, They aren’t bad. They are simply messengers telling us something isn’t right in our lives. Emotions help us by taking us where we want to go or bringing a message that we are in the wrong place. The authentic emotions serve as avenues for progress and peace. And the less helpful ones relay messages to us that we can learn from. Some of the counterfeit emotions try to turn from messengers to dictators. When we let them become dictators instead of simple messengers they can have destructive consequences. When we accept our emotions, even the counterfeits, and pay attention to the message they are delivering they can be healthy too. The message they generally deliver is that something needs to change in your life, actions, or circumstance. Authentic emotions take us where we want to go.

Injustice

Growing up as a Christian, I was taught that anger is “bad”. I was told that feeling anger is “wrong” and should never be acted upon. I began to suppress everything that even remotely felt like anger, and I started to allow injustices to slip through the cracks unaddressed.

Anger is one of those emotions that is made out to be destructive. It can be destructive when dealt with in an unhealthy way, however, anger is not inherently unhealthy. Anger relays an important message: It tells us when we perceive something to be unfair–this information is valuable. Anger, when dealt with in a healthy way, is a bright spotlight that illuminates issues that need to be addressed.

Accepting anger as a valuable relayer of information can shift it from being an explosive, uncontrollable feeling to a thoughtful space to deal with unfairness. This healthier mode of anger is part of the authentic emotion I call injustice. 

Injustice is our response to inequalities in the world. It is the urge to make things right, the urge to stand up and fight for good. 

When Gandhi was beaten to the ground by a British soldier, “Stay down!” the soldier screamed in his face. Gandhi stood up and encouraged other people to do the same. They didn’t use violence, they let their anger push them to rise and fight the inequalities with peaceful protests.  

Martin Luther King Jr. stood up to the oppression with marches and pleas to the government. He accepted that this injustice could no longer continue and let it move him to action. 

Both men were part of a marginalized group that had endured immense suffering. They couldn’t stand by without taking action to right the injustice. There were so many wrongs being committed against them and their respective groups. But instead of lashing out, they accepted the truth of their situation as the relayer of the message and let the urge for equality fuel their civil demonstrations. They stood up for what was right without using violence. 

Stress and Anger are not bad. They are just emotions that can be channeled in healthy or unhealthy ways. This Mental Health Awareness Month is a good time to check in with ourselves. How do I view stress and anger? How do I cope with them? How can I convert these emotions into something more helpful?

There is no such thing as a “wrong” or “bad” emotion. They all serve a purpose.

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