On pandering to emotions

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  1. Not all negative emotions are bad.
  2. Pandering to negative emotions becomes a missed opportunity.
  3. Respect negative emotions; don’t pander to them.

Not all negative emotions are bad.

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Some people don’t ever want anyone else to feel uncomfortable, sad, or stressed. They believe that feeling any negative emotion is bad and must be avoided at all costs. Maybe you know someone like that in your own life.  The two ideas that these people don’t realize are:

(1) Some negative emotions lead to good things. For example, exercise hurts but leads to good health, and

(2) Some negative emotions are a result of problematic thought patterns. For example, compulsively jealous lovers are usually jealous because they have insecurities; it’s not always their spouse’s fault.

Life experience shows this to be true. Anyone who has ever pushed past a negative emotion for something better on the other end will understand what I’m saying. And anyone who has ever had to change their own thoughts will understand what I’m saying.

Pandering to negative emotions becomes a missed opportunity.

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Negative emotions are a sign that something is wrong. To the person who sees all negative emotions as bad, they believe that what’s instigating the negative emotion is what’s wrong. If exercise feels uncomfortable, then exercise must be bad. So, these people mistakenly pander to negative emotions by trying to remove the instigator. Pandering to negative emotions is unhelpful. Sometimes what’s wrong is not out in the world but inside you. If exercise is hurting, that may mean I’m not used to exercising and need to exercise more consistently. If I’m compulsively jealous, that may mean I have insecurities I need to work through. As long as people pander to negative emotions, these sorts of people aren’t really being helped.

Respect negative emotions; don’t pander to them.

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Don’t shove aside people’s negative emotions though. If someone is feeling sad or angry, they’re going to feel sad or angry. Allow them to feel that. If you shove aside their emotions, that’s the fastest way to end the conversation. They’ll stop listening just like that. Try it for yourself. Life experience shows what I say to be true in most cases.

But don’t pander to a person’s negative emotions. Gently remind them that their emotions might actually say something more about themselves than the world. The problem may lie within. Help them on that journey. Be kind. Just remember that kindness won’t always feel nice.

 
 

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