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  • Top 23 Tips to Start 2024 Better – Day 22

Written by Elisa Di Napoli / Updated on May 29, 2024  Reading Time minutes 

sadness


Tip#22 for Today

How to use negative emotions to your advantage:

Are you emotionally intelligent? Are you able to identify and use negative emotions to your advantage? Today, I'll share nine different ways you can use your negative emotions to your advantage. 

Developing self-awareness:

Negative emotions have a protective function. They alert us to potential threats and make us aware that it is time to change what we are doing or thinking. Think of them as an alarm bell that tells you something is not quite right. Instead of ignoring the bell, pay attention! What feedback are you getting? Noticing what you are feeling without judgement will help you identify opportunities for professional and personal growth. 

Paying greater attention to detail:

Did you know that sadness promotes slower, more systematic cognitive processing? When you are sad, you are less likely to rely on quick conclusions and pay attention to detail. Negative emotions alert us to novel or difficult situations and help us become more focused so that we can respond to what is happening more effectively. 

Taking responsibility for your feelings:

You create your emotions. When you accept this, you realise you are "at cause". A lot of us forget this and keep on complaining about people and circumstances, seeing them as the reasons for our misery. However, we need to remember that it is not our surroundings that create our emotional state, but the way we react to them. When you accept responsibility for your emotions, you realise only you can save yourself. This empowers you to be back in the driving seat. 

Flipping your fears into desires and find the lesson:

What you desire most is on the other side of your fears. When you feel bad because you are not on track towards your goals, it is because the love of what you desire is being blocked by the life you fear.

Pay attention to it. While the negative emotions around this will pass, they have an important lesson for you. What is it? 

For example: a few years ago I noticed that when I went to festivals and saw female singers on stage, I would feel intense discomfort. Instead of avoiding going to gigs, I asked myself: why do I feel this way? Because I want to be them! Next, I looked at what was stopping me from pursuing that dream. Fear. This information was invaluable to pointing out the road, the roadblocks, and the journey ahead. 

Solving Problems:

Anxiety and fear activate the fight-or-flight response in the body, which helps you find solutions to complex problems in record time. This is because the fight-or-flight response allows the body to quickly metabolise a large amount of energy and helps the body prepare to react quickly in potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situations.

Anger can help you perform better in negotiations, especially when they are confrontational. Keep in mind that it also creates a filter on reality that can distort it, so it needs to be kept in check. Many athletes find that anger helps them mobilise strength and endurance when they need it. 

Stop repressing your feelings:

Nobody wants to blow up or cry at work. However, stuffing your feelings down about a workplace conflict is also not appropriate, as it is likely to have the opposite effect to what you are hoping.

We all know that stress worses your physical and mental health. Over time, it is bound to interfere with your ability to think clearly and work effectively. Avoiding negative emotions still takes mental energy and takes away focus from where it is needed. 

It's like trying to push a balloon down into a water tub. It is going to take all of your strength and attention, and you cannot do it for long. 

Finding the Lesson:

A few years ago, I came across a negative review of my work. I was feeling tired that day and I let the incident disturb my peace of mind. 

I carried my rage with me and let it spoil my day. How could anyone criticise my efforts? What if potential clients came across that?

Instead of empathising with me and adding to my annoyance, my coach at the time asked, “What can you learn from this?” I now apply this lesson to all situations. 

What are your emotions trying to teach you? Rather than getting stuck in their negative energy, try to use it to gain insight. Ask yourself: “what positive steps can I take from this experience?” or “what is the lesson here?".

Then get to work and apply those insights to create a better future experience. By directing the negative energy towards a creative task, you are transforming negative feelings into positive growth. 

In my example, it was a matter of understanding where I had gone wrong and instead of beating myself up for it, I used the insights to improve my performance. 

Stopping self-flagellation: 

When you are confronted by negative emotions, try to be curious instead of judgmental. Imagine you are an investigator, not an inquisition judge, and replace self-criticism with curiosity. What opportunities are there to understand yourself better? 

For example, suppose you frequently miss meetings or fall behind on projects. Rather than succumbing to thoughts that criticise you for being foolish or irresponsible, move forward with messages like “I need to improve my ability to say ‘no’ to projects that don’t fit with my vision, so I don’t become overburdened.” 

Being compassionate and developing empathy:

Compassion for oneself is the first step toward healing. So get down to earth with yourself and be present. Be kind to yourself. If you treated someone else in the same way you treat yourself, would that person think you were an asshole? If so, you are not being kind. 

Feel your emotion completely and let it help you grow your understanding of the human condition. The more accepting,  sensitive and understanding you are of yourslef the more you can be of those around you.

Conclusion:

Emotions are often divided into two parts: affective (feeling) and cognitive (thinking). The affective component is our immediate reaction to things, people, and events. The cognitive component is what we think about them.

 While we have no control over our immediate reaction, we do have a significant impact on how we think about them. When we reframe our feelings about negative emotions by focusing on their positive qualities, we feel better about them and we manage them more effectively.

Based on what you’ve just learned, here are three ways to help you practice accept and manage your negative emotions as they arise. 

  1. Recognise negative emotions and remember that they serve an important, adaptive function.
  2. Consider how you might channel your negative emotions in ways that will benefit you
  3. Keep in mind that how you evaluate our negative emotions is critical in moving you toward a more positive state.

How are you going to apply what you have learned today to your life?

Enjoyed today's article? Come back here tomorrow for our last tip on our 23 tips to start 2023 better!

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