Yesterday I compared emotions to fire and pain—things we don’t enjoy feeling but we can use to improve our lives if we know how to use them. Calling them negative leads us to suppress and deny them—the opposite of self-awareness—which takes away our ability to improve our lives.
I call that counterproductive.
I think sharp knives might make a more helpful analogy.
I might call sharp knives negative if I handled them clumsily and threw them around carelessly. You don’t let children handle sharp knives because they don’t have the dexterity to use them without hurting themselves. Chefs train to use them effectively. The more you train, the sharper you want your knives. No skilled cook wants a dull knife.
Calling a dull knife bad implies poor cooking skills and inexperience. If you don’t care about cooking it doesn’t matter.
Calling emotions negative implies poor emotional skills and inexperience. But you can’t say you don’t care about your emotional state like you might not care about cooking. What matters more than how you feel?
You can live however you want, but if you call some emotions negative, I recommend learning enough about emotions to where you value your awareness of them. Then you can improve your life more effectively.
And the more you can improve your life, the more you can lead others. If you can’t improve your life, it’s hard to get people to follow you. Who wants to follow someone in denial? It’s like learning from a chef chopping vegetables with a butter knife.
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