Emotion is a subjective state of mind that controls our moods, thoughts, behaviours and affects our feelings and perception about our environment. It is quite surprising that currently there is no scientific consensus on a definition. No wonder emotions are tricky to understand and rather confusing.
Have you ever wondered why a certain thing feels great on one day and unpleasant on the other? It is because of the emotions we are dealing with and our mood is greatly affected by our emotions. For example, a person has a great day at work. Whatever experience he/she will have thereafter will most probably be good. Even if something doesn’t go their way, they will move on. On the contrary, if the same person has a terrible day at work, even a small obstacle can trigger negative feelings like frustration, anger, sadness, etc.
What are emotions?
Emotions can simply be explained as reactions to internal stimuli (like thoughts and memories) or events that occur in our surroundings. Scholars have been studying and researching emotions for thousands of years. We seem to know a lot about emotions, however, we lack to understand the necessity of negative and positive emotions for healthy functioning.
For example, anxiety is considered to be a negative emotion by a layman. Rather, anxiety is a body’s natural response to stress. The mechanism helps to predict any dangers and protect us from any difficult situations. It turns into a disorder when it gets excessive.
It is imperative to understand our negative and positive emotions, what they mean, why they are necessary, how they are related and how it affects our daily life.
Some Interesting Facts on Emotional Intelligence
So, let’s dive in and understand our positive and negative emotions. It may help us get emotionally intelligent!
What are Positive Emotions?
According to the Oxford Handbook, “Positive emotions include pleasant or desirable situational responses, ranging from interest and contentment to love and joy, but are distinct from pleasurable sensation and undifferentiated positive affect.”
The definition means that positive emotions are pleasant reactions to internal or external stimuli that are more complex and directed than simple sensations. Here is a list of some common positive emotions-
Happiness is a positive emotion resulting from feeling pleasure and contentment, with a sense of enjoyment. To feel happy you need to be satisfied with who you are, how your life is, and what the future holds for you. Acceptance and enjoyment of every moment in life is the key to happiness.
Love is a strong feeling of deep and enduring affection towards someone. It represents that the person cares, adores, values, and wants us in their lives. To experience this positive emotion let your loved ones know how much they mean to you, write them a thank you letter, or give them something meaningful.
Pride is a positive feeling of accomplishment and approval of one’s achievements, qualities or possessions. . To feel pride, you need to be accepting of yourself, your work, and your personal life. They do not need to be perfect, they are just results of your hard work and a representation of who you are. Be proud of who you are and what you have built.
Few more Positive Emotions that we experience in our daily life are Satisfaction, , Contentment, Amusement, Serenity and Interest.
What are the Negative Emotions?
According to Paul van Lange, a famous psychologist, negative emotions are “an unpleasant or unhappy emotion which is evoked in individuals to express a negative effect towards an event or person. These emotions might be unpleasant and make you think low of yourself and reduce your confidence, self-esteem, and feeling of contentment.
Although no one wants to experience negative emotions, they have importance in our day to day to life. It is a part of our evolutionary process as negative emotions encourage us to act in ways that boost our survival. Remember the example of anxiety given above? Similarly, anger can help us fight problems, fear protects us from danger, jealousy pushes us to do more.
However, we should not let our negative emotions get the best of us. It can be in our favour until we are controlling them. Uncontrollable negative emotions are dangerous and must be controlled.
Here’s a list of commonly experienced negative emotions
Guilt is a negative feeling that occurs when we feel we have done something wrong or immoral. We are unable to justify our actions which might have caused pain to someone. When you are guilty, it is important to introspect the situation or the thought which leads to the cause. If the original motive behind your actions was noble, you will feel less guilty. On the other hand, if the original motive was malicious, then it will be a learning experience.
Anger as described by experts is a natural emotion that protects and helps us survive from what is considered wrong-doing. It can be unpleasant and irrational but everyone experiences it from time to time. Mild anger can be turned up when you feel tired, stressed, or irritated when your basic needs aren’t fulfilled. It turns problematic when the intensity and frequency rises. So, whenever you feel angry think about what is frustrating you and would your anger remove your roadblock. If not then take a few deep breaths and calm down. Think of solutions that will help you achieve your goals.
Jealousy occurs when we experience feelings like insecurity and fear. It can be related to a person or possession. It is an overwhelming feeling when we fear a potential loss or when we feel unequal due to inequity in the distribution of resources. You can overcome jealousy by talking about it to your trusted ones, appreciating yourself, sharing with others, etc.
Other negative feelings that we experience are Fear, Disgust, Sadness, Loneliness and Annoyance.
Once we understand our emotions it is easy to know why we experience them and what situations lead to them. It will help us to create a safe environment where we can turn negative emotions into positive ones.
It is crucial to identify your emotions and there are numerous screenings available that can help you demystify your feelings. If you can identify your problematic emotions, you can take action before it becomes a part of your personality. Consider it as a step towards enhancing your emotional intelligence. Some experts can help you throughout this journey of understanding your emotions and hidden parts of your personality. Your friend or a family member might be able to help you by scanning the outer layer of your personality but it goes much deeper in your conscious and subconscious mind. The experts are trained professionals who help people to heal and thrive by discovering the deepest of information about your personality and emotions through multiple scientific methods and experiences.