Emotions are a powerful navigational tool that can help you make better decisions under challenging circumstances. While strong negative emotions like anger and grief may feel overwhelming, your inner life is a valuable source of information. If you can learn to analyze your emotions without feeling overwhelmed, you’ll cultivate an emotional agility that will make you more successful, flexible, and happy.
Negative emotions like fear serve a vital function. Strong emotions often contain messages about your life and the need for change. For example, chronic frustration with a romantic partner could signal that it’s time for the relationship to evolve. If you repress those negative emotions, you’ll miss the message. But if you can undertake a more dispassionate review, examining the emotion as a response to the outside world, you’re likely to learn something.
Consider stress, a commonly misunderstood emotion. Many people view stress as an enemy that must be defeated. This attitude only worsens the emotional burden of stress. Instead, you should understand stress as an indicator. Sometimes stress signals that you need to slow down. Other times, stress can be a motivational tool that helps you push through to the end of a project. If you can decipher what your stress is trying to tell you, it will become easier to manage the emotion.
For a quick lesson on how to read tough emotions, check out our Instaread on Emotional Agility.