How Negative Emotions Affect Us and How to Embrace Them

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Angerfearresentmentfrustration, and anxiety are emotional states that many people experience regularly but try to avoid. And this is understandable—they are designed to make us uncomfortable. These negative emotional states can create extra stress in your body and your mind, which is uncomfortable but also can lead to health issues if the stress becomes chronic or overwhelming. Nobody likes to feel uncomfortable, so it is natural to want to escape these feelings, and the dangers of unmanaged stress are real. However, there is a feeling that people sometimes have that these emotions will last forever or that the feelings themselves are the problem.

More often, these feelings are beheficial because they can also send us messages. Anger and anxiety, for example, show that something needs to change, and perhaps that our well-being has been threatened. Fear is an appeal to increase your level of safety. Resentment motivates us to change something in a relationship. Frustration does as well. Basically, negative emotions are there to alert us that something needs to change and to motivate us to make that change.

Positive psychologists also argue that while there are many benefits to positive emotional states like hope, joy, and gratitude, there are also negative effects that can come from them. Optimism, for example, has been linked to many beneficial outcomes for health and happiness as well as personal success. Unchecked optimism, however, can lead to unrealistic expectations and even dangerous risks that can lead to loss and all of the negative feelings that can come with it. More uncomfortable emotional states like anxiety, however, can lead to motivation to make changes that can create more success and avoid danger. This is part of why it is important not to ignore our negative emotions—they are designed to keep us safe and to motivate us to improve our lives, just as positive emotions are.

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