According to Harvard Division of Continuing Development, research suggests that people with higher emotional intelligence are more innovative, have higher job satisfaction, are more trusted, create more rapport and are generally more successful and happier.

The relationship between emotions and feelings

Emotions are definied as strong feelings deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others; or instinctive or intuitive feelings as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge. Source Oxform Dictionary Online

Feelings are an emotional state or reaction; an idea or belief, especially a vague or irrational one; or the capacity to experience the sense of touch.

According to neuroscience, emotions first occur in the subcortical areas of the brain when stimuli produce biochemical reactions that have a direct impact on our physical state. Feelings occur in the neocortical regions of the brain and are the next step in how we respond to our emotions as an individual. Emotions come first and feelings follow…

The importance of emotions for survival

Emotions are biochemical reactions that impact our physical state, they are coded into our DNA and can be objectively measured through physiological changes. They are a critical part of human development that help us respond quickly to different environmental situations and play a large part in our survival and evolution.

Emotions are complex reactions involving many biological and physiological processes within our bodies. Our brain responds to our thoughts by releasing hormones and chemicals, which send us into a state of arousal. All emotions come about in this way, whether positive or negative.

Neuroscientists and pyschologists often consider the benefits of, and differences between ‘positive emotions’ and ‘negative emotions’.

The list of positive emotions that people experience is nearly endless. Not all of these words refer to emotions as scholars understand them, but they are the words most often used by people in describing their own emotions, which gives us a good foundation for positive emotions as they are commonly experienced.

Negative emotions can be described as any feeling which causes you to be miserable and sad. These emotions make you dislike yourself and others, and reduce your confidence and self-esteem, and general life satisfaction.

Emotions that can become negative are hate, anger, jealousy and sadness. Yet, in the right context, these feelings are completely natural.

Don’t hold onto negative emotions

Negative emotions stop us from thinking and behaving rationally and seeing situations in their true perspective. When this occurs, we tend to see only what we want to see and remember only what we want to remember. This only prolongs the anger, sadness or frustration and prevents us from enjoying life.

Holding onto negative emotions causes a downward spiral that can seriously erode your happiness, health and and wellbeing. These are useful when considered as feedback about the world around us. Negative emotions such as fear help us to flee from danger and keep us safe. Negative emotions such as anger and frustration can indicate an unhealthy relationship, bullying or abuse and can be important indicators to remove yourself from the situation.

“Negative emotions can dampen our enthusiasm for life and, depending on how long we let them affect us and the way we choose to express them, reduce our mental and physical health.”

Therese Linton

How to deal with negative emotions

There are a number of coping strategies to deal with negative emotions. These include –

  • Keep a sense of perspective – worrying simply creates a negative downward spiral and doesn’t contribute to positive action. Talking with someone can help to develop a sense of perspective.
  • Acknowledge and take action – seek to accpet the emotion or situation and then either let it go or develop an action plan to implement strategies or undertake pleasant activities to support yourself
  • Unwind and become mindful – find ways to relax and divert your thoughts by undertakeing pleasant activities like reading, walking, meditating, stretching or talking to a friend
  • Observe and learn – notice how feelings like sadness, loss and anger make you feel, and which events trigger those feelings so you can prepare in advance to avoid those situations or support yourself more effectively
  • Exercise – physical activity lowers stress chemicals, improves mood and creates a cycle of improved wellbeing
  • Let go of the past – constantly going over negative events wastes time and energy that can be used to improving your life and lifting your mood

4 step emotional self regulation cycle

This super simple process will greatly improve your ability to work with emotions – both yours and those of others. This is turn will increase your EQ.

The most important first step is to cultivate awareness and curiosity as more positive responses to negative emotions. This is much healthier than denial and judgement which can lead to frustration and volatility.

Step 1 – Acknowledge the emotion and consider the exact emotion, name it if you can to expand your repetoire

Step 2 – Determine the root cause so you can choose positive action to resolve negative situations

Step 3 – Consider the feeedback being provided by the emotion

Step 4 – Select a positive response that will resolve or diffuse negative emotions

Start again and this will soon become an automatic cycle that determines your response pattern whenever you feel or encounter negative emotions.