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Are negative emotions as bad as they seem?

Are negative emotions as bad as they seem?

May 27, 2024

How long have we had the idea that negative emotions are bad? That is, to what extent have we been educated that the "negative" (or what seems negative) has to be avoided, minimized or suppressed?

Surely this education has always had a noble goal, with the intention to help or instill a positive attitude towards life . However, there is a large number of people for whom this idea of ​​"rejection of the bad" has turned out to have a double edge.

"Negative" emotions

Lately there has been much talk of emotions, and have brought up several issues of psychology that had long wanted to take the air. Therefore, it is not wrong to clarify concepts. To give a definition, and starting from the Emotional Rational Therapy founded by Professor Albert Ellis, emotions are understood as events or mental, physiological and behavioral events.


In other words, can be understood as specific physiological activations to which our mind and body put a label . In this way it is accepted that emotions have a specific function, and the difference between "negative" and "positive" is given by its usefulness, both facing the world and facing ourselves (let's not forget the latter).

For example, the sadness , which is generally considered as negative, becomes especially useful at the moment in which it is necessary to unburden ourselves or emotionally unload us before a conflict that we do not know how to solve. That is to say, It could be positive.

However, it would become negative, when provoked by an irrational idea, cease to serve as a discharge, or make it more difficult for us to achieve our objectives.


What are the dysfunctional emotions called?

If we mark the difference between emotions positive Y negative At the point where they cease to be useful, it would be beneficial to know if those that we normally categorize as negative are really. These are some examples:

Concern vs. Anxiety

It is absolutely different to wish that something does not happen (worry) to eliminate the possibility of it happening ("this can not happen and if it happens it will be fatal"). It seems only a slight difference, but it becomes huge at the moment when you need to face an anxious situation. Bad nerves can cause a slight worry to become a world of scares, which on the other hand makes it impossible to face anything.

Therefore, the futility of anxiety is obvious, at least internally, which is very different from being activated or worried.


Sadness vs. Depression

The line between the two may seem fine, but at the mental level (remember the mental dimension of emotions), the depressive state has a strong component of devaluation, that is, of abuse towards oneself ("I am not worth anything, I am nothing "). Also in the dimension time and intensity are different, although these parameters are much more individual.

Specify that depressed mood is not referred to in this case to depression as a clinical problem, but as a state of mind, which turns out to be, in addition to not very useful, quite harmful.

Anger vs. Self Culpability

These two emotions are sometimes represented more as an evolution than as different states. That is to say, one becomes angry with oneself, and then begins to feel guilty for that for which one has become angry. The self-assessment It is very common here, and as has already been intuited, it has no use.

The guilt is the protagonist of a huge number of clinical psychological problems. A badly managed feeling of guilt can generate ways of thinking that are absolutely harmful to the person, as opposed to anger with oneself, from which learning can arise.

Annoyed vs. Go to

While the first can be a logical and indeed healthy reaction to a possible disagreement, it is the step to anger that makes it negative. In anger, a simple anger is passed to devalue the other. It is what typically happens on busy days, or when people get nervous; in any case, never useful in the face of conflict resolution .

In addition, an enormous amount of mental and emotional resources are used through anger, more than in many occasions. Anger in the face of a disagreement relaxes emotional and mental tension, while anger produces more of both.

Double of negative, please!

It seems that maybe it is not so necessary to avoid the "bad". However, the escape from this is logical; after all, neitherSome of the emotions cited are pleasant, whether they are functional or not. . But, although neither gives us a smile or a laugh in itself, at the psychological level comes the point at which the most obvious question arises:

To be happy, or to be mentally healthy, you always have to be happy?

The emotion of negative valence (and I mean the one that produces a negative mood, regardless of its usefulness), before having this valence, is emotion. We defined this term before. It has only been necessary to add that the emotions are human, that is, the human is designed to create, experience and ultimately live all kinds of emotions , both negative and positive. And it turns out that sometimes, seeking escape from the unpleasant mood, we end up living one that harms us even more.

In consultation, the question of "why me?" Is constantly repeated. The answer is that simply emotions with negative (but possibly functional) affect occur. Admit it and reconcile with the fact that one is capable of feeling bad, and also may need it, is simply to realize that one is human.

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