July 16th, 2019
Positive and Negative Emotions…Do We Need Both?
“Never to suffer would never to have been blessed” Edgar Allan Poe
We have all felt the impact of positive and negative emotions in our lives…but to answer the question, Do We Need Both?, we need to better understand the important role they play in our lives..
Positive emotions have been identified as the emotions that we find enjoyable to experience…. the pleasant responses to our surroundings, or our thoughts, that are more complex in nature than simple sensations.
Negative emotions on the other hand are those that we typically do not find pleasurable to experience.
For example, if you experience an emotion that discourages you or brings you down, then it’s most likely a negative emotion.
Examples of positive and negative emotions may vary depending on who you ask, however our ability to distinguish between the two is an intuitive process—we seem to “just know” which emotions are positive, and which are negative.
Some common positive emotions include:
A few of the most commonly felt negative emotions are:
So, the question is …do we need both?
Looking at the list of negative emotions, ask yourself…
Do I want to feel any of those emotions? The answer most likely is no…and it’s no wonder! It doesn’t feel good to experience any of those emotions.
Now, refer to the list of positive emotions, and ask yourself…
Have I ever wished I was not experiencing this emotion? Although you may have experienced this once or twice—perhaps at a time when you felt you should not experience a positive emotion…but it’s easy to see that this list of enjoyable emotions are the ones we seek out, and to further conclude that we require positive emotions to function effectively, grow, and thrive.
So…if negative emotions are considered unpleasant and positive emotions desirable…do we need the negative ones at all?
- Negative emotions give us a better understanding of positive emotions; without the negative, would the positive emotions still feel as good?
- Negative emotions provide the opportunity for us to choose to act in ways that help us grow and develop…and from an evolutionary perspective, enhance our chances of survival
The answer is yes!
As Tracy Kennedy from Lifehack.org points out, there is a good reason for each of the basic emotions, both positive and negative:
- Anger: Fights against problems
- Fear: Protects us from danger
- Anticipation: Looks forward and plan
- Surprise: Focuses on new situations
- Joy: Reminds us what’s important
- Sadness: Connects us with those we love
- Trust: Connects with people who help
- Disgust: Rejects what is unhealthy
As unwanted as they may be, negative emotions serve important purposes and are essential for a healthy, well-rounded life. As important as it is for us to learn how to increase our positive emotions it is just as important to learn how to cope successfully with negative emotions and even re direct them into positive experiences.
When we can accept and embrace both our positive and our negative emotions, we give ourselves the best chance to live a balanced, meaningful life.
The first step to effectively managing our emotions is to identify, understand, and find the patterns in our emotional experiences.
Identifying, accepting, and managing our emotions—both positive and negative—is such an important task for living a healthy and happy life.
Contact us for more information about Emotional Intelligence and the EQ-i assessments to learn more about how understanding and managing your emotions and those of others will lead to success in work and life!