The Positive Value of Negative Emotions
Pretending everything is great is stupid. Everything is never great.
Positivity that excludes negativity is illusion.
You flounder when you deny reality.
The positive value of negative emotions is the ability to thrive in an imperfect world.
Don’t fake your way through challenges and disappointments.
Find the positive value of negative emotions when you acknowledge, accept, and use them for good.
Toxic negative emotions:
- Envy – I’m unhappy because I don’t have what you have.
- Self-pity – My life is harder than yours. No one really appreciates me like I deserve.
- Bitterness – Anger amped up when hate rots your heart.
- Entitlement – You owe me just because I’m special regardless of what I do.
- Coveting – I want what you have AND I don’t want you to have it.
Toxic emotions corrode your life and rot your heart.
Destructive emotions make you weak.
The positive value of negative emotions:
#1. Healthy sadness motivates change.
You can feel happy and sad at the same time. You can feel sad that you lost the game and happy that you gave it your best. But, if you don’t feel sad about losing, you’re a loser.
Sadness that motivates change is transformative.
Happiness confirms. Sadness disconfirms.
‘Always look at the bright side’ is toxic positivity.
#2. Healthy sadness enables empathy.
People who reject sadness say, “Cheer up.” People who embrace sadness say, “That must feel terrible.”
It’s more energizing to feel understood than to experience toxic positivity.
#3. Healthy sadness enables kindness.
People who suffer-well become kind. People who suffer-poorly become brittle.
Feelings are one thing. Responding to feelings is the main thing.
Wallowing in negative emotion is always destructive.
What is the positive value of negative emotions?
What concerns you about this idea?
4 Ways to Get the Most from Sadness
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Liked the post and the contents!
I fully agree with you on ‘Healthy Sadness motivates change’. In fact, it prompts you to do a self-introspection and find the reasons behind the sadness. It often leads to looking for alternate ways of changing the situation to your advantage. In our personal and professional lives, we come across difficulties and failures which force us to think differently and look for newer ways with fortified efforts. The fresh attempts have invariable work better to give a mental happiness with desired outcome.
Thank you Dr. Asher. Wonderfully said. Difficulty forces us to think differently. Sadness opens the heart.
Hey Dan, I like this approach to negative emotions. I am inclined to avoid becoming angry at all costs because I’ve seen just how destructive anger can be, but if it lights a fire under you and energizes you to do difficult things it can be an asset.
As an optimistic person, I liked a previous post you wrote that said something to the effect that “positivity during adversity isn’t nonsense, it’s called leadership”. Today’s post layers some nuance onto that though. Thanks!
Thank you, Matt. I’m with you on concern about anger. Expressing anger can be done poorly. When it is, it causes more harm than good. Anger is never an excuse to be disrespectful or abusive.
But, anger shows me what’s important. It shows me what I don’t want. It will take a little more work to figure out what I do want. Anyone can get angry. The ‘do want’ is leadership.
Change rarely happens when you are comfortable. It is your discomfort that drives you to change.
Thank you for saying this! I haven’t thought of it in the context of toxic positivity. Great perspective.
I try to think of emotions as unpleasant or pleasant, uncomfortable or comfortable. Placing a value judgment on emotions (i.e., negative or positive, bad or good) encourages distortions. Behind each of our emotions is a need that is or is not being met, a value that is or is not being honored. It’s important for us to understand this so we can request what we need and honor in a way that is respectful, caring, and compassionate toward ourselves and others. I also think it’s important to realize that we are not our thoughts and emotions. To say that we are a loser if we do not feel sad about losing is incorrect. On the other hand, we may very well lose out by not learning from the experience. As Dan says, “sadness that motivates change is transformative.”
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