It can be very tempting to avoid or suppress negative emotions. After all, who would enjoy being told by their mind that “You are unlovable and will never find a partner” or something to that effect?
However, there are actually many benefits to negative emotions and thoughts. Here are some of them:
1.Pain tells you what’s wrong and needs to be changed:
Just like pain in the body indicates that care and medical attention is needed, emotional pain also indicates that some or the other help is needed. For example, negative thoughts about a relationship could draw your attention to the fact that you need to change how you’re conducting yourself in the relationship. Feelings of anxiety or stress can draw attention to factors around you that can be potentially harmful.
2. Negative emotions allow us to be more aware:
We are more likely to make silly mistakes or be taken for granted when we are feeling positive. Negative emotions make us sharper, more aware. This can be helpful for us and helps us to avoid making mistakes that we may regret later on.
On the other hand, positive emotions can make you more aloof. It’s good to be carefree but this also carries some threats: less aware of risks happening in your life, less attention to detail in your work, or being unconcerned of how your behavior is negatively impacting others (Biswar-Dienar & Kashdan, 2014).
3. Negative emotions can motivate us:
When do we change? when things are not right. If a person is completely happy and content with themselves, they won’t change. When we are unhappy with our looks, we get fit. When we are unhappy with our work, we learn skills or change jobs, and when we are unhappy with our relationship, that’s when we make an effort to change it. Therefore, negative emotions help us grow by providing the incentive to change.
What can you do if you have a lot of negative emotions and feel like avoiding them? Read this blog on alternatives to emotional avoidance.
Do you want to talk to a psychologist about your negative emotions? Click here.