Avoiding Negative Emotions?

Patients will often ask me, as we are exploring their feelings, what is the point of being in touch with their, for lack of a better word, negative emotions (anger, guilt, etc).  Would it not be better to simply avoid them? Could it make them worse off if they feel them? From my experience, avoiding the complexity of our emotional experience puts us at a disadvantage. If we are  not aware of our feelings, or spending our energy blocking them out, we have lost touch with a very important part of our evolutionary heritage that guides us and provides a source of energy and meaning to our lives.  And that includes both so called positive and negative emotions. In the final analysis, emotions are neither positive nor negative, they just are.  However, what we do in response to the emotions we feel could be either positive or negative (hitting someone in anger vs asserting our needs in healthy way). A recent article in Scientific American provides support for the health benefits of acknowledging and expressing the full range of our emotional experience.