No one wants bad emotions in their life.
In fact, oftentimes it seems like the measurement criteria of how well you are doing in life is the ratio of your good and bad feelings.
The more bad feelings you have, the worse you are doing.
Makes sense right?
Well, to some extent, it is the truth. Obviously, you cannot expect someone who is sad and anxious all the time to live the happiest and most fulfilled life.
However, sometimes you can have the feeling, that there is no space for negative emotion left at all.
As soon as you show a glimpse of sadness or dissatisfaction, you are judged to be moody or unstable.
This goes against the very nature of our human existence.
We have a wide range of emotions we can feel, and all of them can be important and even beneficial.
Sure, it is more pleasant to feel positive emotions all the time. But there is a reason why we feel the emotions we are experiencing.
Denying to acknowledge these emotions, will be only a temporary, short time, solution.
While it might make you feel better for now, not going through this emotion, it does not solve the problem that is the reason for feeling this emotion in the first place.
Only by tackling the problem at hand, that is brought to your attention because of your feelings, you can change life for the better efficiency.
But without further ado, let’s dive into the specifics.
Long term versus short term
As I have mentioned before, ignoring your bad emotions can only be a short term solution to a potentially long term problem.
If you are feeling anger towards a situation in your life, for example, the state of your fitness right now, you have different possibilities to solve your bad emotion.
Option 1: You can ignore the anger and distract yourself.
Option 2: You can force yourself to feel better by eating chocolate, watching some memes or funny videos, or playing video games.
Option 3: You decide to resolve the root of your problem, hitting the gym, resolving the issue in the long-run.
What becomes apparent is, that it is up to you to decide what influences these emotions will have on you.
Either you develop a purely pessimistic view, seeing bad emotions as something to avoid at all costs.
Or, you see them as opportunities. As a way of your mind holding up a mirror in front of you, detecting your weaknesses, so you can work on them and improve.
Moreover, this can be said for many bad emotions.
Feeling anxiety or fear close to exam-season? Perhaps you should consider studying more.
I know it is easier said than done, but sufficient preparation for an exam can alleviate a big chunk of your nervousness building up to it.
Feeling jealousy towards your neighbour for their new car? Maybe you need to work harder to be able to afford one yourself, or maybe you need to change your view about how much you value objects.
As illustrated, many times there are multiple angles you can tackle your emotion from.
That’s why it is important to asses every emotion, and every situation, individually.
Sticking to the previous example, once you achieved your goal, once you obtained that car, it will make you feel proud and accomplished.
Anyhow, there is always a bigger shark.
There is always someone with a better car or a fancier house.
While it is important to set yourself goals and being able to afford the car of your dreams is not a bad one at all, it is also important to be humble to know when it is enough.
Because greed and jealousy have the ability to be destructive and overall to bring more dissatisfaction than joy.
Inspired by this, Kevin Cavenaugh gave this TedTalk about the power of enough.
Consequently, if you, as an Emerging Athlete, are interested in improving your life permanently and increasing your well-being, you should start to analyze your bad emotions.
Figure out what exactly they have to say and why you are feeling them.
Afterwards, you think of ways to improve your situation and to resolve the problem. Sometimes this will not be obvious, demanding some time and creativity to figure out how this one exact negative emotion can have a positive influence on your life.
This gets especially difficult when you are confronted with that very emotion at the time you are thinking about it. Which is oftentimes the case.
If you practice it, get better at it, and adopt this mindset, it will become a natural way of thinking to you.
Most importantly though, you have to act on it.
Theorycrafting all day about how much better your life could be, and how you have the potential for more, won’t change your life on its own.
In order to change your life, you need to change your routines, habits, and priorities.
Once you are willing to do this step, you can truly, with the help of bad emotions, change your life for the better.
The beauty of bad emotions
Even though it might be unpleasant to have them in your life, negative emotions are part of our emotional spectrum, and therefore part of what makes us human.
It might seem hard at first to see anything positive in the sadness you are experiencing based on the loss of a loved one.
But from dire situations like this, it is possible to derive appreciation and gratitude.
You get reminded about people that love you and support you.
Also, you can start noticing things you have, instead of things you don’t.
Continuing, there can be a certain beauty in bad emotions, too.
If it would not be for your sadness, for your grief, no one would think about the dead person anymore.
He or she is kept alive because you still share memories with that person.
By expressing sadness, we express that this person had many good qualities, and will be missed.
We are only sad about people who are deserving of this sadness, honoring them in this way.
Furthermore, bad emotions help us to gain insights into the consequences of our actions and the impact we have on other people, and other people on us.
The way someone is affected if you turn him or her down to hang out with you will tell you a lot about the way he or she is feeling about you.
After you ask a stupid question, which happens to the best of us, the way in which people react will tell you what opinion they have of you.
If everyone starts laughing together, you included, and you can make jokes about it together then chances are high that those people like you.
When they get annoyed by that same question, however, they probably don’t fancy you a lot.
On the other hand, it can provide insights about feelings you weren’t aware of yourself.
Imagine someone dropping a mean, or provoking, comment about your behavior and you notice that you get quite upset or sad about it.
Either, this tells you that you are insecure about this topic.
Or, it tells you that you value the opinion of the other person a great deal.
In both cases, you gained information about yourself, which, again, you can use in the future to make better decisions and work on yourself.
Bad emotions improve our good emotions
Without bad, there can merely be good.
If you don’t know how it feels to have bad emotions, a bad day, or anything negative, it is harder to appreciate the good emotions.
One of the reasons we enjoy positive emotions so much is because we can think of times when this positivity was not in our lives.
The reference of knowing how it feels to go through a tough time makes the good times so much better.
Additionally, these downslopes in our life foster appreciation, if you let them.
Life is a series of up- and down-swings. This is what keeps it exciting.
Because we, as humans, can get used to pretty much everything, we can also get used to feeling good.
While feeling good all the time might sound attractive at first, and probably is better than constantly feeling bad, a storm every now and then can cleanse the sky.
Bad emotions sharpen your senses
Negative emotions exist not only to bring us down.
They have a biological function that is very important for every one of us.
Since the brain influences the body, emotions can affect the way our senses operate.
To examine the classic example, fear makes us more alert and provides us with boosts of energy.
Going back in time, we were faced with life-threatening situations all the time.
In order to overcome threats like wild animals, food scarcity, or cold temperatures in the winter. Attention to detail, alertness, and big amounts of energy are necessary.
Experiencing fear will provide you with these traits, to maximize your chance to survive.
Admittedly, this might be an outdated example, but the message remains the same.
Negative emotions have the power to change how our system runs, they will adapt our metabolism, heart rate, and more, to suit the situation.
This is an incredible gift each of us takes advantage of regularly.
Bad emotions fuel your ambitions
Last but not least, bad emotions can help us to achieve our goals and to upgrade our life.
When faced with negative feelings, we wish for better times and remember how good things can be.
Other than only wishing for it, it can also lit a fire in you, so you can act on it.
I experienced this myself during my travels.
As I was working 10 hours every day, 7 days a week, in the hot sun on a grape farm, it became apparent to me, that I would hate to do a job like this for all my life.
Now, years later, this realization stuck with me, fueling my energy to keep learning and to make sure I don’t end up in an unsatisfying job.
Without this draining experience, it would have been harder for me to establish the mindset I am profiting from every day.
This is only one example, but you can really apply this to most negative emotions.
Wishing to feel the opposite of your current state of mind, is one of the best motivations to improve.
Only if you have a burning desire to achieve your goals, and to change your life, you can actually do it.
Bad emotions help a ton with that!
In order to use the power of bad emotions, you have to adapt your mindset and attitude towards them.
While it might be unpleasant to feel those emotions, they can help you out in various ways.
- They can facilitate long-term change.
- There is a hidden beauty to it
- They have the power to upgrade our already good emotions
- They sharpen your senses
- They fuel your most desired ambitions
Are you currently in a slope and are looking to recalibrate your life?
Do you have special experiences with bad emotions?
Let us know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!