Do you ever feel angry, frustrated, or jealous and try to hide it from others because you don’t want to be perceived as a negative person? Do you have self-doubts and fears that keep you from freely expressing yourself?
Congratulations – you’re normal! The ability to have feelings is a sign of emotional health.
Positivity has an amazing impact on our well-being overall. We all know that “just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
Too much of it though is not so beneficial. No human being can be positive 100% of the time, nor should they. New research actually shows that being able to experience and accept our negative emotions is vital to our mental health. To be healthy and functional, we need to be able to connect with all of our emotions, the good as well as the bad.
The Happiness Hack: Learning to Love Your Negative Emotions
As a child, I remember instinctively licking my wounds without anybody having taught me how to. Later on, I was able to overcome psychological pain by following my inner child’s guidance. I strongly believe that we as humans have an amazing intrinsic ability to heal ourselves, both physically and emotionally.
“I just know why I feel the way I feel,” I replied. “That makes it easy to manage the feeling.”
In reality I was like a bulletproof glass that seemed unbreakable — but if you hit it with sufficient force in a specific spot, it would shatter into pieces. In order to hold myself together, I was telling myself things like, “It’s not the circumstances, it’s our attitude that defines us,” and “This too shall pass.” I was repeating positive affirmations, unintentionally. I also followed my burning desire to create and rekindled my old passion for painting. Unknowingly, I picked myself up emotionally.
Now, when I have better educated myself and learned about emotional health and emotional intelligence, it became much easier to manage my inner world and to connect with others in a healthier way as well.
If we aim to be absolutely positive, we must cultivate a favorable attitude towards our negative emotions as well. Instead of bashing and avoiding them at all cost, we should accept them and welcome the messages and lessons that they carry for us.
Negative emotions are natural, and have some great benefits that are often overlooked.
Negative emotions add spice to our life
Although we may not like it spicy, everyone will face some negative situations in their life. It is just inevitable. The longer you live, the more discomfort you will feel, the more loss you will face, the more frustrated you may get. What if instead of getting bitter, we looked at negative circumstances as our lessons and celebrated our ability to feel? If we can feel it, we are still alive.
Being able to experience a wide range of emotions makes our life richer.
Negative emotions are essential for our survival
Negative emotions are built-in instincts that are necessary for our survival. They notify us about dangerous conditions outside. They send the signals to our body and brain when our well-being may be at risk, so that we can deal with those threats effectively.
They keep our bodies alive by preventing us from jumping off the cliff or walking on the highway.
They also let us know in a more subtle way when our surroundings are not good for our mental health. They will keep nagging you and pushing in the right direction if you happen to go astray. Your “gut feeling” will always tell you if there is something that’s not working and needs to change in your life, whether it is a draining relationship or job that makes you miserable.
The negative makes you appreciate the positive more
Through the darkest night comes the brightest light.
One of the greatest benefits of our negative emotions is that they can intensify our positive emotions later. Like in art, the shadows emphasize the light colors and make them appear brighter. As Rumi said so well:
Sorrow … shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.
– Jalaluddin Rumi
Just think of how many times we take things for granted until we lose them, and how much joy we have when we gain them back.
Experiencing negative emotions makes you more empathetic towards others
Another great benefit of having negative emotions is developing the ability to empathize. They say that people who have suffered the most have the biggest hearts. As John Steinbeck wrote:
You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.
– John Steinbeck
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.