This blog is inspired by new web series on Amazon Prime – Breathe – Into the Shadows. After watching the series, I could not refrain myself from writing this blog.
The series is based on the concept of Ravana’s ten heads each of which represents 10 different human emotions (evils) which often have negative connotations – 1. Ego 2. Pride 3. Regret 4. Anger 5. Hate 6. Fear 7. Jealousy 8. Greed 9. Lust 10. Attachment
Emotions and ability to express it in various forms and degrees is what makes humans different from all other living things who also have some ability of expressing emotions. So, are emotions always negative; or something that must be controlled and kept in check. I strongly believe that, we as individuals rarely pay enough attention to 5 Ws and 1 H when it comes to Emotions. We should consciously make efforts to understand these 5Ws and 1 H of our own emotion post which we can also think of ways and means to train and condition it which will lead to more positive behaviours.
Emotions are a source of information that help you understand what is going on around you. Negative emotions, in particular, can help you recognize threats and feel prepared to positively handle potential dangers.
Do we need to control and overcome negative outcomes? I feel and say NO. Its very normal for us to move away from emotions that make us feel bad. As a human being, we experience, full range of emotions throughout our lifetime in response to rapidly changing situations. All the emotions come with an experience and learning. It is when we begin to further explore and understand the purpose behind each emotion, that we learn new ways to respond which supports our emotional growth and sense of well-being. If you spend too much time dwelling on negative emotions and the situations that might have caused them, you could go into a spiral of rumination. Rumination is the tendency to keep thinking, replaying, or obsessing over negative emotional situations and experiences .In this spiral of negative thinking, you can end up feeling worse and worse about the situation and yourself, the result of which could be a number of detrimental effects to your mental and physical well being.
People feel that negative emotions directly impact our health and well-being, but it is how we react and process them when we do experience them that really counts.
Few Benefits we get from Negative Emotions
Sadness can help you pay more attention to detail
Where positive emotions signal that all is well in our immediate environment, negative emotions alert our brain that there are challenge/ situations or new stimuli that requires our more focused attention. Sadness sends us the alert that something is not right and helps us to turn our attention and focus us to why this may be, what might be causing it, and what we need to do to fix it.
Anger can be a strong motivator to seek mediation
Anger is only followed by aggression in only ten percent of scenarios. There is difference between anger and aggression. Anger is a type of feeling whereas aggression is type of behavior. Anger encourages one to seek out active behaviors to address scenarios or people you’ve found problematic but doesn’t necessarily mean through confrontation or physical acts. Anger is a strong alert that encourages us to reflect on why someone might be behaving a certain way, and what you can do to restore peace.
Anxiety encourages new ways of looking at problems and challenges
When we feel anxious or uneasy, we try and do anything we can not to feel that way anymore. Anxiety is closely linked to our ‘fight or flight’ response, which allows our body to create energy quickly, ready for action. When we face any tough or dangerous situations, anxiety will take over and encourage us to seek solutions quickly to escape danger.
Guilt helps you change negative behavior
Guilt can be an exceptionally useful emotion. It works as our moral compass and when it goes off, it is a good indication that we may have behaved or said something hurtful to someone we care about. It is like our internal check system for punishing ourselves when we have done something wrong. People who are more prone to feeling guilty are less likely to indulge in stealing, resort to violence or drink and drive or any negative behavior.
Jealousy motivates you to work harder
Jealousy is not always malicious. Most of the time its what psychologists refer to as ‘benign envy’. Benign envy helps students to perform better on tests and or some competition, as seeing another student achieve a good grade made it more tangible for them to achieve too. Next time, one feel jealous because someone else has achieved a desired goal, we should try to see this as a good thing – it means the goal is totally achievable for too.
Ego helps to be self-reliant
The word ego carries a negative connotation – as in egocentric or self-centred – in actuality, the ego has both positive and negative aspects. Your ego is not as bad as it is supposed to be. It can be self-destructive, but it does not have to be. When we keep it properly checked and use it strategically, it can help us through our tough times and propel us toward success and happiness.
Greed motivates you to improve your life in very real ways
What if greed is the only motivator, the only thing that gets us out of the bed and drives us to accomplish? If it is yes, then having greed would be good in relation to achieving our goals. We might get better results though from examining our priorities and possibly changing our goals.
Pride can be a virtue
Pride is a double-edged sword. When you are not proud enough of your work, you have doubt of being successful. If you are too proud of yourself, others mistake you to be arrogant. At the same time, positive side of it- Humans who take pride in their work are more likely have higher productivity. When something doesn’t work out the way we want it to be, we need some pride to keep us going. Pride makes us resilient. If we don’t take pride in what we’re doing, it looks that we probably don’t care about it.
We are attached to many things, to property, to people, to ideas, to beliefs, the innumerable forms of attachment to so many things? The attachment is the outcome of fear, of various forms of loneliness, emptiness and so on. I am aware of that and I know this pain of attachment, so I try to cultivate detachment. Attachment becomes a problem only when there is the pursuit of detachment, only when that which is attached is not understood.
The context where it generally has a negative connotation is when it’s used to describe a purely sexual attraction to another person, usually without any notion of affection or even friendship. It’s considered to be giving in to baser, animal instincts, rather than human emotion. At the other end, lust is passionate desire for something, or something we take delight and pleasure in. Lust implies such an exaggerated, almost out of control feeling that most of the positive effect is lost. If we apply it to someone else usually the response would be to deny the feeling is so strong. If you say someone has lust for life, that just means the person is high-spirited, passion toward the goal or thing and intense longing.
We can handle most of the work involved in regulating our emotions well before the provoking situation even occurs. We should prepare ourselves ahead of time, we will find that the problematic emotion goes away before it interferes with your life:
- Select the situation. Avoid circumstances that trigger unwanted emotions. If you know that you’re most likely to get angry when you’re in a hurry (and you become angry when others force you to wait), then don’t leave things for the last minute to create that emotion. Start early you need to, and you will not be bothered so much by pedestrians, cars, or slow elevators. Similarly, if there is any person, you find completely annoying, then figure out a way to keep from bumping into that person.
- Modify or Amend the situation. Perhaps the emotion you are trying to reduce is disappointment. You are always hoping, for example, to serve the “perfect” meal for friends and family, but invariably something goes wrong because you’ve aimed too high. Modify the situation by finding recipes that are within your range of ability so that you can pull off the meal. You may not be able to construct the ideal soufflé, but you manage a pretty good frittata.
- Shift your attentional focus. Let us say that you constantly feel inferior to the people around you who always look great. You are at the gym and can’t help but notice the regulars on the weight machines who manage to lift three times as much as you can. Drawn to them like a magnet, you can’t help but watch with wonder and envy at what they’re able to accomplish. Shifting your focus away from them and onto your fellow gym rats who pack less punch will help you feel more confident about your own abilities. Even better, focus on what you are doing, and in the process, you’ll eventually gain some of the strength you desire.
- Change your thoughts. At the core of our deepest emotions are the beliefs that drive them. You feel sad when you believe to have lost something, anger when you decide that an important goal is thwarted, and happy anticipation when you believe something good is coming your way. By changing your thoughts, you may not be able to change the situation but you can at least change the way you believe the situation is affecting you. In cognitive reappraisal, you replace the thoughts that lead to unhappiness with thoughts that lead instead to joy or at least contentment. People with social anxiety disorder may believe that they’ll make fools of themselves in front of others for their social gaffes. They can be helped to relax by interventions that help them recognize that people do not judge them as harshly as they believe.
- Change your response. If all else fails, and you cannot avoid, modify, shift your focus, or change your thoughts, and that emotion comes pouring out, the final step in emotion regulation is to get control of your response. Your heart may be beating out a steady drumroll of unpleasant sensations when you’re made to be anxious or angry. Take deep breaths and perhaps close your eyes to calm yourself down. Similarly, if you cannot stop laughing when everyone else seems serious or sad, gather your inner resources and force yourself at least to change your facial expression if not your mood.
At the end, I feel that we human must handle both positive and negative emotions. But it is on us, how we respond or react to the negative emotions. It is on us whether we use negative emotions to turn something positive in our life or just get affected by it.
Written By :
Shreya is a Behavioural trainer, POSH Trainer, HR Consultant and has magnetic skills to influence people. She believes training enables positive transformation internally & externally. Known for her creative training methodologies, she injects a catalytic blend of positive energy and resonant experiences throughout her trainings. Passionate about making a difference, Shreya believes in the power of experiences in inspiring transformations. She envisions training & development as a platform for every person to discover the limits of their potential — and exceed them.