We all experience negative emotions such as fear, sadness, anger, and despair throughout the course of our lives. These emotions have the potential to influence our decisions, actions, and interactions, but only if we let them. Instead of allowing our negative emotions to control us or hold us back, we can choose to use them to our advantage. Learning how to channel them can be a fruitful journey towards personal growth and emotional wellbeing.
Embracing negative emotions and viewing them as a fundamental part of our existence is an inherent characteristic of our individual. Each negative emotion has an untapped potential to further our desires and aspirations. Instead of seeing them as destructive or paralysing, we can use these negative emotions to pursue growth and inner peace.
Here are a few tips to use negative emotions as stepping stones to find happiness and growth in life.
Sadness for better focus and productivity
Sadness can trigger stress and depression in life. Some succumb to its intensity, while others channel their emotions in a more productive way. The latter are the ones who come out stronger than before.
According to psychology professor Joseph Forgas, the benefits of sadness are many. A University of New South Wales report by Forgas states that people dealing with a gloomy mood perform tasks better than those in a good mood. Sadness is associated with psychological rewards too, which can help us focus and bring positive changes at various cognitive and behavioural levels.
Using suffering as a motivator
Although adverse circumstances may not always be under our control, how we perceive them is. Suffering is personal and unique to each of us and how we tackle the situation decides whether it will aid in personal growth or loss. Referring to pain and suffering as “travelling professors”, celebrated author and philanthropist Glennon Doyle Melton says, “The smartest people I know are the people who say, come in and don’t leave until you have taught me what I need to know.” Pushing forth the idea that your pain can teach, push, and motivate you to your greatest personal breakthroughs.
Take for instance the efforts of women—mothers of children who lost their lives to the recklessness of drunken drivers—who founded MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) to put an end to drunk driving. It is the perfect example of using pain and suffering as a stimulant to create something significant and prominent—such as MADD—that can help others as well.
The annals of human history are filled with such examples where negative experiences or emotions have been used as catalysts for poetry, music, art, or literature. The untimely demise of Hamnet, the son of the celebrated playwright William Shakespeare, is another case that reveals the power of emotional pain. Stricken by the hurt and agony of losing his son, Shakespeare channelised his emotions to write Hamlet, which went on to become a masterpiece in the world of literature.
Go forth in anger
Anger is one of the strongest emotions on the list and the most impactful as well. At its worst, anger can become an inhibitor in your personal and professional life. At its best, however, anger can become your biggest inspiration, as long as you control it and not the other way around.
Using anger constructively is not exactly a new concept. In 350 BC, Aristotle wrote, “…the angry man is aiming at what he can attain, and the belief that you will attain your aim is pleasant.” So, harness your anger to remove distractions; plan and execute better; express yourself and communicate effectively.
Don’t let fear frighten you
Anxiety, nervousness, lack of motivation, or something unidentifiable deep within, could all manifest different forms of fear. But how you address and conquer them makes all the difference in life.
In the face of fear, dig deep. Ask yourself introspective questions, and discover what lays beneath it all. Identify the root cause of your fear and transform the underlying negativity into something empowering. When faced with fear, question yourself, “If I do this, what’s the worst that could happen?” Then decide what steps you can take to mitigate the expected consequences.
Write down everything that terrifies you. Then, analyse all the fears and try to see them from a different perspective. Gradually, lean into your fears and challenge yourself to face them.
It has been proven that the secret to happiness and success lies in harnessing positive energy in your life. Emotions play a critical role in it; spinning your negative emotions into something positive can yield fruit in both, your personal and professional life.