Negative emotions were meant to give us a cue to turn the ship around and head in another direction.
Pain cues your body to take your hand off the stove.
Disgust cues your body to get sick when you’ve swallowed something foul.
Fear cues your body to pay attention to a looming or sudden threat.
The trick here is that each of these responses is useful only in that instant.
Chronic pain negatively reinforces healthy activity.
Chronic disgust yellows the skin.
Chronic fear slows metabolism, increases our risk for heart disease (the #1 killer in America), and shuts down cognitive functions.
We’ve all got an emotional default. For most men, it’s anger (since it’s the only negative emotion men are socially allowed to express publically). For most women, it’s sadness.
My emotional defaults are depression and anxiety (they’re actually closely related). This is actually what most of my research was about while I was at Penn State.
What’s your emotional default? Do you know?
What is your action plan for catching yourself when you slip into that negativity?
Do you criticize? Judge? Complain?
There is literally a 0% return on investment for these chronic emotions.
When something that was once adaptive for our species becomes harmful or constraining, it’s called mal-adaptive. Chronic pain, anxiety, depression, anger or any other negative affect is going to slow you down in the long game.
How will you call yourself out?
No one is going to do it for you. It’s your responsibility to yourself, your projects, your family, your team, and everyone around you.
How will you tell the difference between short-term pain (an investment) and long-term pain (a habit of suffering)?
Understanding yourself and learning to self-coach, reach out for help, or take a break might not make a difference today, but it will make or break your game in the end.