By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor
Do our negative emotions hold the key to living a better life?
The obvious answer may seem to be, no—what could be good about feeling bad?
However, John Sharp, M.D., psychiatrist and author of “The Emotional Calendar,” points out that, it’s impossible to deny that negative emotions play a significant role in the life of every human being.
“It would be nice if we could live in a world where there’s no cause for negative emotions—but that’s not the world we live in. The key is figuring out how we can see them as potentially positive and useful,” he says.
Embrace the undesirable
No one wants to feel sad, anxious, afraid, or angry. This can make it difficult to tease out the advantages of being subjected to these emotions.
The first step to finding the positive in the negative, according to Sharp, is not to let the unpleasantness of an emotion deter you from feeling it fully.
Some people try to evade emotional aches by drowning them with food, alcohol and drugs. Others simply try to deny the existence of painful feelings. In either case, it’s never healthy for a person to reject their natural reactions. “Trying to avoid pain seems like a good idea, but if you’re always running from it, you can make a lot of trouble for yourself,” Sharp says.