5 Reasons Negative Emotions Are Key To Wellbeing
In “Hamlet,” Shakespeare writes “nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Similarly, it may not be useful to think of emotions as “positive emotions” or “negative emotions.” Still, there are emotions that we enjoy like happiness and excitement, and emotions that we do not enjoy like fear and sorrow.
While it may not be healthy to dwell on these emotions for too long, it can also be unhealthy to try to ignore them or block them out. These emotions are just as important, or possibly more important, to shaping who we are than emotions that we enjoy more.
1. Learn About The World
Emotions are symptoms of our health and can be just as important as physical symptoms. When we do something and feel happy or excited, it is usually a sign that that thing is good for us. On the other hand, when we do something, and it makes us feel anxious or scared, or guilty, it usually means that that thing is bad for us.
In this way, emotions contribute to self-limiting behavior, they help us to identify when an activity or situation is good so that we can keep it up, or bad so that we can avoid similar instances in the future.
2. Learn About Yourself And Others
As stated above, experiencing unpleasant emotions can instinctively help us to avoid certain situations, but further examining these feelings can also help us to learn about why we experience them.
Asking ourselves why we feel a certain way in a certain situation can help us to understand – and to change – the reasons behind the feeling. Sometimes examining your feelings in a situation can lead you to realizing that a person or situation may be dangerous to you but sometimes they can lead you to realizing that something in your past or something deep in your personality is leading you to over-react or react in a way that is not fitting.
Focusing on these feelings may be uncomfortable but addressing them and finding the source can be an illuminating experience that prevents future discomfort in the future.
3. Develop Empathy
Taking time to acknowledge and experience our own emotions can also help us to understand the lives and experiences of those around us.
In our society that values some emotions and disvalued other emotions, we tend to look down on people who experience “negative” emotions like sadness or anger as being weak or imbalanced or immature.
By taking note of how often we experience these emotions ourselves, it becomes easier to approach others from a place of understanding and respect when they are feeling down.
This works on ourselves as well. If we feel that we are week or imbalanced or immature for feeling these emotions, we are less likely to deal with them in a constructive way. Reminding ourselves that everyone periodically feels angry or sad can help us to support and comfort ourselves in our own times of need.
4. Express Yourself
Because our emotions are important parts of who we are as people and it isn’t good to just brush them off, expressing our negative emotions to others can help us to create an optimal environment for our feeling and effective functioning.
Learning to accept and understand “negative” emotions can also help us to express these emotions in a healthy and productive way.
5. Brace Yourself
As mentioned above, emotions are natural things that happen to everyone and happen every day. Emotions can be stronger or weaker, however. Many of us have gotten talented at powering through little unpleasant emotions that happen every day, but we all sooner or later get hit with some life trauma that we can’t help but feel.
If you take time to acknowledge and experience the little emotions that you feel throughout the day, you will be more able to handle those bigger emotions in a healthy and constructive way.
Perhaps you have thought while reading this article that when you feel sad or afraid you are too wrapped up in that emotion to consciously deal with it. If that’s the case with you, it might be because you do not let yourself feel emotions until they become crippling.