Could Negative Emotions Be Exactly What You Need?
Now that we’ve discussed feelings vs. emotions let’s explore this crazy world of “negative” emotions.
There are four core “negative” emotions – fear, anger, guilt, and sadness/grief.
Most of the time, these emotions make us feel as if we are losing our cool and some people don’t take it lightly. They may react by burying and denying the negative emotion, some lash out at others, some withdraw into themselves. In any case, for most people, this type of emotion is something they try to avoid or deny.
In business, experiencing these emotions can come as bad news because we see the experience as out of our control and potentially damaging – how will the emotion affect our behavior and thus, our reputation? However, the more we learn about these emotions and accept their existence, the better we will be at utilizing them.
Becoming aware of these emotions is an essential part of learning to respond, not react, to them. It is helpful to think of these emotions as being signals for you, blinking yellow lights telling you to slow down and figure out the message that they’re sending you.
All of these so called “negative” emotions are a sign to make an adjustment – if you just remember that, you’ll be well on your way to becoming aware of their messages for you. So let’s look at the four core “negative” emotions and what they might be trying to tell you.
Fear is a means of self-protection/preservation, and also, a way to find out what you love. When you’re afraid, look at what you fear losing, and you’ll learn about your values, as well as the attachments you have in life.
Anger is born out of love of self or others. When you’re angry, it’s because you feel that someone or something is somehow a threat to yourself or someone or something you love or value.
Guilt helps you decide who you are. You feel guilty when you say or do something that goes against who you want to be, or who you think you should be. So guilt allows you the chance to discover more about yourself and to change your behavior to fit with the “ideal you.”
Sadness and grief help you remember your vulnerability in this world. They keep things in perspective and give you the opportunity to grow. They also teach you about what’s valuable to you, and help you learn more about how to appreciate life.
As much as we may think we don’t want to experience these emotions the reality is we do, we just want to experience them on our terms. It’s the reason we read or watch dramas, thrillers, and action-adventures. All of these genres stir up several of the negative emotions…and we enjoy it.
So next time you experience a “negative” emotion, take a moment to reflect, and then respond consciously instead of reacting as you usually do.