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The Tyranny of Relentless Positivity - Mindful

https://www.mindful.org/real-gift-negative-emotions/

mindful.org

The Tyranny of Relentless Positivity - Mindful
We are caught up in a rigid culture that values relentless positivity over emotional agility, true resilience, and thriving, says Susan David, Ph.D., a Psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and author of the book Emotional Agility .

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False positivity

False positivity

We are caught up in a rigid culture that values positivity.

However, when we put aside our difficult emotions in order to embrace dishonest positivity, we fail to discover skills that can help us to deal with our problems.

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Tough emotions are essential for living

How we deal with our emotions affects how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead.

We should not view our emotions as good or bad, positive or negative. We need our emotions for real resilience.

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Moving Beyond Emotional Rigidity

Moving Beyond Emotional Rigidity

When we go through tough situations, we cannot ignore our negative emotions with the hope that they don't matter.

Write down what you are truly feeling in a personal notebook. Move beyond the rigidity of denial.

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What to do with emotions

What to do with emotions

When you feel a strong, tough emotion, don’t run away from it. Understand why you have this emotion and be open to it.

What is the emotion telling you? Notice the emotion for what it is. Be with your emotions with curiosity, compassion and courage. 

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Embrace emotional agility

Don't consider what you think you should feel. Open your heart to what you do feel, even the difficult emotions. It could involve pain, regret, grief or loss. 

When we name our emotions accurately, we are able to find the cause of our feelings. For example, there is a big difference between "I'm stressed", and "I'm in the wrong career."

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Emotions are data

Emotions are not directives. We can label our emotions for their values without listening to them.

We own our emotions, they don't own us.

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Forced positivity

Suppressing or avoiding our difficult emotions is not healthy or helpful.

Doing this impairs our capacity to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. And this leads to lower levels of resilience, lower levels of wellbeing, and higher levels of depression and anxiety.

Labeling difficult emotions

An important way of dealing with a difficult emotion is to label it effectively.

Labeling your emotions more accurately helps you understand the cause of those emotions and triggers your ability to set goals and to make real concrete changes.

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Spontaneity could explain low-level sadness

Spontaneity could explain low-level sadness

An often overlooked but essential ingredient in a good life is spontaneity. Without it, we may suffer from an excess of orderliness, caution and rigidity. We haven't danced in ...

We are rigid, because we are afraid

We stay fixed in our familiar spot because any movement out of the known and calculated is experienced as intensely dangerous. We ruminate too much because we are trying to exert control. We seldom act, out of fear of making a huge mistake.

Spontaneity is a potential within all of us. It is almost always something we have lost because circumstances have stripped it away from our characters.

Becoming spontaneous again

We’ll continue not to be spontaneous until we can understand how and why being spontaneous once felt so dangerous.

We should recognise that many of our inhibitions are no longer necessary - that we can relax from whatever fear we felt as children. We can prepare areas of great order and logic but then allow for moments when we relax, feeling safe in the knowledge that not everything is at stake. We can try to dance a little or take off without too much of a plan.

Avoiding talking about your feelings

Avoiding talking about your feelings

People with very low emotional intelligence will refuse to talk about their feelings because they aren't good at it. They may use vague language to describe how they feel, such as "I'm...

Judging your own feelings

Emotions like fear or sadness feel bad. People with low emotional intelligence criticize themselves, thinking it is wrong to feel afraid. Or shameful to feel sad.

People with high emotional intelligence understand that if something feels bad doesn't mean it is bad. They treat themselves with compassion and kindness when they feel this way.

Trying to control your emotions

People with low emotional intelligence think they have to solve difficult emotions. They try to get rid of any painful feelings.

Emotionally intelligent people see emotions as messengers. They validate them even if they don't like the content of the message.