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Negative Thoughts and Emotions are Imperative For Our Survival and Growth

How do negative emotions help you? Let us ponder on that which you probably have never contemplated.

But before you proceed, read the first post here.

Let us take Sadness as an example. Note that sadness is not depression. Sadness is perceived as a negative emotion to be shunned. Yet it has many benefits as this article by social psychologist Joseph Forgas suggests. Sadness can improve your memory, enhance your judgement, increase your motivation and improve interactions. It makes you pay more attention to external details, because it is a signal that the situation is new, challenging and demands greater attention that the complacency that happiness would normally bring.

Worry is another example. Generally, worrying is an activity that keeps you busy going nowhere. The most wasteful activity ever, because it deals with the future when you wish to live in the present moment. Yet, being anxious about the future leads you, in this day and age, to take important steps to gain peace of mind in the present moment. Life insurance is one action where anxiety over the future leads to peace in the present. Anxiety is also a problem solver, since it anticipates future problems and helps you to plan in the present to mitigate future risks.

Competition and a need to have more than the other motivates you to work harder, doesn’t it? Imagine, if for the average individual, jealousy and envy were absent. Would you ever push yourself to work harder? Complacency would set in if everything was given to you on a platter. This is one of the reasons why communism leads to lethargy and not growth.

You would never have a Plan B if you were always optimistic about outcomes. Even the greatest CXOs who claim to be always optimistic are not being truthful, because they cannot survive without a Plan B. Pessimism mingled with Optimism postulates that whilst you expect the best, you prepare for the worst. How can you ever be prepared for anything if you always expect the most beneficial, positive outcomes?

Guilt is a necessity. It is a moral compass for yourself, far greater than any laws, rules and norms that society dictates. Think for a moment, there are so many acts you could do which are not illegal but the only reason you do not do it, is because you feel uneasy within. Everybody has a different conscience and this moral compass determines the path you would follow – irrespective of whether or not a set of laws, rules, codes and norms exist or not. What matters is not whether you are told it is a sin, but whether you feel it is a sin.

Where mindfulness has its own benefits, so does mindlessness. A constantly roaming mind is full of ideas, innovative and creative. If you were always caught up with ‘what is’, would you then spare time to contemplate ‘what could be’. The mind, thinking outside the box or thinking as if there were no box, leads to creativity. New ideas that transform the world.

Lastly, let us look at anger which has been labelled as a negative emotion. Angry men have led millions to independence, throttled discrimination and rebelled against the world. I have mentioned this earlier in the article. Anger is because something is unacceptable to your inner self and propels you to action. Otherwise you are going to be vegetating accepting anything and everything that is happening around you. Anger helps you to resolve both inner and outer conflicts. Isn’t that valuable?

Let me reiterate at the end of this series of four articles – positive thinking and positive emotions should quite obviously be cultivated, and negative emotions and negative thoughts do not just co-exist, but are a necessity and essential to our survival and growth.


The author, Rajesh Seshadri, is an internationally recognized Certified Leadership Coach, Certified Success Coach and Certified Life Coach. He is also a NLP Master Practitioner, facilitator and therapist. The basket of therapies is holistic and integrative adopting techniques from Psychotherapy, NLP, Silva, Gestalt, Hypnosis and Silva UltraMind. Additionally, he is a seasoned corporate professional who continues to serve as a whole-time Director and Board Member.

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