We often associate negative emotions with issues like poor health and stifling other avenues of our life like creativity and productivity, when in reality, there is much that can be said in a positive light about negative emotions.
In the moment, it can be challenging to see the positivity when faced with a challenge, especially those that take us by surprise. Let’s say your best friend tells you that you won’t be able to accomplish your goal of finishing college because you lack drive and motivation. For some, the initial reaction is that of defeat. Why would someone that is supposed to care about me say something so negative? While we see individuals succumb to the negative feelings that are a product of a relationship that can be deemed toxic, there can also be positivity. Studies have shown that negative emotions can produce outcomes. For instance, this individual mentioned above will still experience sadness and anger at her friend’s remark; however, the emotions could then be used to spark a drive that wasn’t present before: the drive to be successful in the face of negativity. After all, who doesn’t like to prove someone wrong?
Take me for example. At 19, I had my daughter. I was a straight-A student with a full college scholarship, and many people told me that college was now out of the question and I’d have to drop out to raise her. I was faced with many negative emotions, some that seemed to cripple my own self-confidence. How could I balance being a teenage mother, go to college and work? Despite these thoughts, at the end of the day, those emotions fueled my desire to be successful. Initially, it was to prove everyone wrong. Then my lack of self-confidence transformed into a self-assurance and drive that was more than it was even before. Now, I am wrapping up my Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology. Out of my negative emotions, I became self-confident and successful.
It must also be said that creativity can be another product of negative emotions. Many artists, writers, and musicians create their best work when faced with negative emotions. Take Taylor Swift. Most of her songs have been written surrounding break-ups that sparked huge emotions. She is now extremely successful, all from taking something negative in her life and transforming it into something productive. She used her music as an outlet to work through her emotions and became a top-selling musician.
The point is that negative emotions can make a person more productive. While the way in which the negative emotions are handled have a lot to do with coping techniques that have been learned throughout life, it also comes down to the individual. Be mindful of your emotions and know that negativity, while unpleasant, could help you in the end. Pick up a pen and write down how you feel. Lace-up your sneakers and hit the pavement. Channel that negativity into something productive. Who knows, maybe you’ll write a hit song or paint a picture that dubs you the next Picasso. Struggle through the negativity and don’t let it define you. The outcome might surprise you.