Negative emotions: can they have a positive impact?

Negative emotions: can they have a positive impact?

The emotional world of each person encompasses the space of a lifetime. Such is the interest in the concept of emotion that many scientists of the mind are dedicated to studying it in depth to better understand the human being.

For a few years now, one of the debates on emotions has been aimed at resolving a basic categorization: are all emotions definable? Are there good and bad emotions? Do we have to worry about some emotions, like anger, in favor of others, like joy?

In this article we will explain this “negative” area of emotions and we will explain its reason for being, although in general we advance that we need all emotions, whether we like them or not, since they help us to understand the world and to face it.

Are these really negative or unpleasant emotions?

We find it interesting to make this first clarification regarding the title of the article. We must take into account that language always has an influence , as if words were colors that delimit the landscape. In this case, talking about negative emotions would lead us to think that we always have to be in a positive state, adding up, when the brain does not work like that.

The brain is an organ that is constantly active (always positive), whether we are in a state of panic or a state of curiosity. Therefore, when we say that an emotion is unpleasant, we mean that:

  • It does not generate feelings of pleasure, but rather tension and possibly pain or distress.
  • It informs us of a threat or obstacle.
  • Its basic function is our protection and care.

Many people who ask us for help are afraid of these emotions, especially fear of losing control when they feel it. Therefore, it is important to point out that the emotion does not have to coincide with the act , that is, feeling anger does not imply aggression. Social and family rules and reasoning help to modulate unpleasant emotions for their management.

The real problem? Misaligned emotions

To be in tune with unpleasant emotions is to be in connection with ourselves . When these emotions (the pleasant ones as well) get out of tune, they are triggered, they lead us to impulsive acts, to isolation, to the repetition of mistakes… it is time to contact a professional in psychology.

Specifically, every misaligned emotion functions as a basis and mobilizer in every mental disorder . By this we do not mean that solving the emotional maladjustment will solve the disorder, as it is more complex than that, although we do admit that when the disease is cured, the emotion will be adjusted.

Misaligned emotions and related disorders

These are the ways in which the mismatch of emotions can affect us negatively.

1. Fear

Paralyzing and agitating fear is the basis for anxiety and panic disorders . Its function is to protect us from a threat and to prepare us for escape or blockage.

Being maladjusted, people who suffer cannot determine where the threat is or what it consists of , leaving the brain confused when making a decision and remaining in this state of anxiety for longer.

2. Sadness

Prolonged and pronounced sadness is the basis of a depressive disorder . Sadness tells us about nostalgia, loss and the need for contact.

When the state is prolonged and there are no changes, the person who suffers from it is overcome by despair and a feeling of incomprehension , going from sadness to an attitude of renunciation, subjecting him/her to a lethargic and increasingly dull state.

3. Anger and Disgust

Excessive anger and disgust are the basis of impulse control problems . These emotions work as energizers to solve obstacles and/or threats that we can face.

As we have seen before, when we can reflect and act appropriately, anger can be transformed into assertiveness. It is this problem of reasoning, this disconnection with the prefrontal cortex, that can lead to impulse and excessive aggression.

4. Guilt

Intense and chronic guilt is part of emotional dependence . The average guilt in our social environment, informing us about the limits that exist in our relationship with others and about the need to repair damages that we have committed.

Generally, family and social norms modulate this emotion. When guilt is excessive, it blocks learning , the sense of identity is lost and attention is kept on pleasing the other person so as not to make any more mistakes.

Emotions are a team

Finally, we want to point out the idea that emotions are not separate entities, but work as a team that distributes leadership according to the situation, and this also applies when they are mismatched.

For example, anger can be directed at oneself and, when sustained over time, it generates an attitude of renunciation that can lead to depression. This depression can turn into an anxiety disorder, and later in an anxiety crisis it is possible to go from fear to anger.

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