Everyone’s pursuing happiness. Yes, we definitely need more positive emotions in our life but without some negative, we are pretty bland automatons. “Negative emotions” as they have been categorized have an important job to do as motivators. It’s when we don’t recognize them and acknowledge their impact on us, that they can overwhelm us. That’s where they get their “negative” label.
To be truly happy, we need to experience the full range of our emotions – positive and negative. There just needs to be a balance as you read in previous posts on how to bring more positive into your life and to release negative emotions. The
The healthy response to our negative emotions is acknowledging, reacting appropriately and learning from them. Healthy is the operative word in this. Negative emotions are often a reaction to someone or something that has happened. You want to have control. If you let someone else dictate your emotions, you give away your power.
The following is a summary of an article from Psychology Today on how our negative emotions are signals urging us to change what we’re doing.
As you read through the list of negative emotions, think of times when you experienced them and how they might have helped you in a situation. Or if they didn’t, how they could have if you had viewed them differently.
Anger results when we feel undervalued. For example, if someone is needlessly helpful, they may have underestimated your capabilities. You get angry. That anger can motivate you to take action to better show your value or competence. In moderation, it can boost your reputation to show you have strength. If taken to an extreme though, it seems like you’ve lost control. Don’t let it progress to rage. In a societal view, anger can push for change like civil rights. Think of being the recipient of someone, maybe a boss’s anger. See if you can figure out what triggered it.
Shame, Embarrassment, Guilt
If you are fired or laid off, you may feel worthless and shame. Embarrassment is often is a social situation and not as deep. With both, you feel bad. Guilt can make you do better. The discomfort of any of these can lead you to look inward to see what to fix or make amends, repair what was damaged. Expressing these emotions makes you appear more vulnerable and may even make people like you better. However, remaining unemotional in these situations signal that you either don’t understand or you don’t care.
These are often mixed up. Envy is longing for what someone else has. Jealousy involves a third party that threatens a relationship. The obvious is in a romantic relationship. What about work? You feel your boss favors another or you are not invited to lunch by peers. Let this be the creative force to observe and learn. What is the other person doing that you perceive is better? Or learn about the other’s flaws that you can do better.
Fear stimulates what can go wrong and how to get out of or avoid a situation. We need some fear otherwise we’d be blind risk takers. The real test is whether the fear is real or imagined. Not all threats are deadly. When we can’t directly address or even identify it, fear turns to anxiety. In a positive way, it can help show us where we’re not aligned with our values and being true to ourselves.
Disappointment implies powerlessness but it can attract others to help or support us. Regret implies personal responsibility. It often involves lost selves, who we might have been if only we made a different choice. When recognized, regret may push us to newer, more fulfilling happiness if we pursue new goals and experiences. This can be very important to pursuing a more fitting career.
Confusion, Frustration, Boredom
Emotional discomfort of confusion can lead to improved problem solving. However if it persists, it leads to frustration and maybe anger. Use it to push you harder. If you can’t make a breakthrough or it’s too easy, boredom comes in. Use that to find new challenges and ideas to pursue.
Sadness in response to a real loss can signal restoration is needed and stimulates change. Sometimes it’s related to regret. Accepting your sadness and grief can actually lower chances of going too deep into depression and hopelessness. Sadness can remove you from distracting activities by eliminating your interest in them. It allows you to focus on what is truly important.
We cannot and should not avoid our emotions. We need to recognize and learn from them. Healthy reactions will allow them to make us better human beings.
Have you learned from your emotional reactions? Think about your job. Do any of these emotions come up regularly at work? How do you handle them? Have they impacted how you manage your career? Can they help motivate you to find a career that’s a better fit – or to re-energize your current job and career path?
Diane, The Midlife Woman’s Career Coach
Diane Howell Topkis is the author of the Career Clarity ebook series. Diane works with midlife women to gain the clarity and confidence to reinvent or re-energize their career into meaningful work for their next chapter. Please visit www.YourNextChapterNOW.com to receive your free workbook Find Your Career Passion.
In her non-work time, Diane wrote three Tasting Journals to take on her weekend and vacation tasting adventures – Wine Travels, Craft Spirits and Craft Beer. They are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.