While it may be difficult to experience negative emotions like anxiety, sadness, and guilt, these emotions can also serve an important purpose. They are certainly not enjoyable and experiencing positive emotions may feel more desirable in the moment, but the reality is that we have a full range of emotions for a reason. In fact, the ability to have a diverse emotional experience is an adaptive strength and one of the key things that has made humans so successful.
Experiencing sadness can alert us to the need to make changes in our lives, help us identify a deficit in personal fulfilling relationships, or flag the need for actions that align with our values. Feeling anxiety and fear help to protect us from danger. Stress is also not necessarily a bad thing. While extreme stress can lead to feelings of burnout and impede our performance, moderate stress can be motivating and may propel us to focus and work harder.
It may be surprising that positive emotions can actually be quite dangerous. While we certainly could use a little more happiness in our lives, chasing positive emotions in an attempt to avoid negative ones can be maladaptive. Excessive drinking, drug use, or risky behaviours can all stem from this combination of positive emotion chasing and negative emotion avoidance.
Still, we should aim to experience negative emotions in moderation and use them as warning signs, motivators, and red flags to alert ourselves to changes that need to be made in our lives.
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Jessica is a member of the clinical wellness and learning support team at FLEX Psychology. Jessica started Wellness Wednesday out of a desire to provide further opportunities for her clients to extend their wellness journey to all avenues of their life. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here or by learning more about her and the clinical team at FLEX Psychology by clicking here.