Nowadays being positive is considered as a new form of moral correctness. Patients with cancer are merely told to just stay positive while women are asked to stop being so angry. The list goes on. It’s basically a tyranny of positivity, and we’ll, it’s cruel, unkind and ineffective. But sadly we do it to ourselves, and to others around us.
If there’s one common feature of false, bottling, or brooding positivity, it’s that they all are rigid responses. One lesson we can learn from the fall of the inevitable apartheid, it’s that rigid denial doesn’t work and is unsustainable for individuals, families and societies.
For example, even if we watch the ice caps melt, it is still unsustainable for our planet.
However, when we push aside normal natural emotions to embrace wrong positivity, we lose our capability to develop skills to deal with the world like it is, not like we wish it to be.
Research done on such emotional suppression shows that when pushed aside or ignored, emotions get stronger. According to psychologists, this is amplification. It’s like that delicious chocolate cake in the refrigerator, which the more you try to ignore, the greater it holds on you.
You might assume that you’re in control of unwanted emotions when you’re ignoring them, but in fact, they’re controlling you. Internal pain always comes out, always. And who ends up paying the price? We do, and also our children, colleagues and our communities.
But hey, don’t get me wrong, I ain’t no anti-happiness!! Like you and everyone else, I like being happy too. You probably must’ve had hundreds of people tell you what they don’t want to feel.
They say things for example, “I avoid trying because I don’t like feeling disappointed.” Or, “I let it be because I just want this feeling to go away.”
Only people who are dead never get stressed, heartbroken or experience the disappointment that failure accompanies. Tough emotions are part of life. You don’t get to have a meaningful settled career or raise a happy family or make the world a better place without feeling stressed out. Discomfort is the price of a meaningful life.
According to research, the radical acceptance of our emotions including the messy, difficult ones, is the cornerstone to true and authentic happiness. But emotional promptness is more than just an acceptance. Accurate words are essential.
We often use general and easy labels to describe our feelings like I’m stressed, the most common one.
But there’s a huge difference between stress and disappointment or stress and that dread of knowing you’re not where you’re supposed to be. On labeling our emotions accurately, we are able to discern the root cause of our feelings.
The “readiness potential” in our brain is activated which allows us to take concrete but right steps.
We don’t tend to feel strong emotions to stuff that doesn’t really matter. When you feel rage while reading or watching the news, that rage is a signpost that you value equity and justice.
It is further an opportunity to take steps that shape your life in that direction. When open to difficult emotions, we are able to generate responses that are aligned by values.
But there is a drawback. Emotions are not directives, they’re data. Basically, we own our emotions, not the other way round. When we decipher the difference between how we feel in all our wisdom, and what we do in our actions, we explore a pathway to our best selves through our emotions.
In easier words
When you feel a strong and tough emotion, don’t race for an exit. What exactly is the emotion telling you? Try not to say “I am,” whether it’s “I’m angry” or “I’m sad.” Every time we say “I am” it makes us sound as if we are the emotion.
You are you, and the emotion is just inside you. Instead, try to notice the feeling like “I’m noticing that I’m feeling angry” or “I’m noticing that I’m feeling weary.” These skills are essential and critical for us, our families, our communities including our workplace.
When looked at what helps people to bring out the best of themselves to work, a powerful key contributor was found; that is individualized consideration. Efficiency, creativity, and innovation flourish in an organization when people are allowed to feel their emotional truth. Diversity isn’t just people of different color or race, it’s also what’s inside of those people, like diversity of emotions.
The most agile, tough individuals, teams, organizations, communities and families are built on a forthrightness to the normal human emotions. This allows us to ask ourselves, “What is my emotion trying to tell me?” “Which action brings me closer to my values?” “Which will take me away from them?”
Emotional steadiness is the ability to deal with your emotions with compassion, interest and curiosity, and specially the courage to take steps that consider your values.
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