Isn’t being positive a good thing? Being positive is what I preach everyday-except when it prevents you from dealing with negative emotions. I’m not suggesting that you dwell on the negative, but acknowledging the negative in yourself and others is necessary to heal. We all know those who always look for the silver lining and while we are grateful for that, sometimes we just want to vent. While their intentions are good, it can be frustrating and even downright annoying when they want you to see the positive but you haven’t finished processing the negative. Of course there are those who fixate and dwell on the negative, but that’s another blog entirely.
There are several reasons why some people always choose the positive over the negative. Maybe they’re uncomfortable with negative emotions and prefer to avoid them or perhaps they learned in life that it’s always better to be positive. Or maybe they don’t like conflict and would rather offer a positive solution than discuss the negative feelings. For some, negative emotions represent weakness, vulnerability, and pain which, in their minds, never results in a good outcome. The reality is that most emotions are good and avoiding the negative prevents us from fully experiencing the positive. When others gloss over our negative feelings or quickly move to a different and/or more positive topic we might interpret that reaction as uncaring or insensitive. “Can’t they acknowledge my sadness or fear?” “Why do they jump to a solution when I’m not finished venting my feelings?”
Validation is a wonderful way to acknowledge and accept others’ feelings even if you don’t agree or fully understand them. When you validate someone’s emotions, it’s a way of saying that their feelings count and matter to you which is extremely compassionate. A response might be “I can understand or appreciate why you are so upset” or “that situation must be extremely stressful and frustrating.” When you allow people to share negative emotions it will bring you closer to them and deepen the relationship. When you shut down others’ negative feelings you shut down conversation and they may be less inclined to share with you. I’m not suggesting marathon sharing of negative emotions, but consider giving others time to share both the positive and negative feelings. You will be amazed at the depth and level of conversation when you allow others to share negative emotions and you share your own. Remember, emotions connect people, both the good and bad.