All of us have feelings because we are human beings.
Dr Daniel Goleman wrote a best seller called Emotional Intelligence
Today, I am just looking at a particular aspect of feelings. The question is : Is it right for us to categorize feelings into positive or negative?
Can we say that positives emotions includes happiness, excitement, hopeful while negative feelings includes sadness, disappointment, guilt, anger, disgust, fear etc ?
The answer is a big big NO. We cannot and must not classify our feelings into these 2 category in a “all or none” manner.
Emotions or feelings is simply a human response to situations or circumstances around us. It is essential for our survival ! Imagine if we bump into a king cobra snake and we do not have feelings!
Feelings are complex. We may have not only a single emotion at a time but a mixture of it. Feelings are influence by our genetic ( biological makeup ) as well as environmental ( upbringing and present circumstances ).
It is biological because certain brain structures such amygdala or hypothalamus regulate the emotional traffic in our brains. It is environmental because early childhood experiences affects the child’s personality and how he or she perceives the world, as secure place or a highly dangerous zone .
So is fear a negative or positive feelings? Excessive fears to social situations may be disabling. However, the Singaporean mountain climber, Khoo Swee Chiow who scaled Everest for three times, relies heavily on his fears to assess the amount of danger to help him managed the degree of risk he need to take during his climb
By labeling feelings as positive as negative, we will automatically create an unhealthy label towards a child who are experiencing sadness or disappointment due to school bullies. Responses such as “ you should not feel this way “ or “ Just ignore them” , " stop behaving negatively" happens all too often. Hence the child may experience shame and embarrassment and prevented from healthy expression of their feelings. The feelings will be push down for years until it explodes like a volcano on an unexpected day.
In short, feelings are real and they are simply feelings. It is a signal which tells us about how someone is coping or dealing with his or her present situation. Feelings must be allowed to be expressed and not to be labelled as positive or negative.
Feelings need to be listened to with patience and understanding. When feelings are handled carefully and wisely, every child will grow up with emotional maturity and intelligence.
Here a great video entitled “Man Up” which featured Gus Worland, radio star from Australia helping us (especially men) to express our feelings.