Much of psychology is focused on problems. Many therapists pay little attention to positive emotions and the power they hold to help with your problems. The majority of therapists are trained to help you delve into your pain until you no longer feel so much pain. They often ask you to repeatedly describe painful experiences that led to trauma, hoping to desensitize you to the experience.
They may ask you to go deep into your core beliefs that are attached to that experience and explore those as well. After all that, you are hopefully ready to challenge those beliefs and replace them with new beliefs that, in turn, will help you live a better life. Somewhere along the way, your experience will most likely be tied in some way to your fight or flight instinct.
Therapy does not have to mainly focus on negative emotions and problems. We can work with your positive emotions to lead you to healing. You do not have to relive your pain over and over.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but that’s just because society relies on the false premise that we must focus on the awfulness of problems and that we must experience pain and suffering to overcome them. You’ve already been through the pain and suffering. You don’t need more. Positive emotions have the power to override and unravel the effect of negative emotions.
You can look at the power of positive emotions in much the same way as you see social situations. The saying, “you can catch more flies with honey” is an example. Rather than yelling at someone, you get better results approaching them with a positive attitude and kind words. You will find this power of the positive in many places. In parenting, when we tell kids what to do instead of what not to do, we see much better results and reduced conflict. Looking toward the positive is productive.
Positive emotions let you know you’re doing well. They are a sign that you’re thriving. The more you experience them, the more you thrive. Not only are they a sign of well-being, they can also create well-being. That is how powerful positive emotions are. They lead to solutions without adding extra pain to your life. The cool part is, you can keep reaping the benefits. You can apply this way of thinking and being to any part of your life.
All you need to do is learn how.
You experience more positive things in your life than negative. However, people tend to place much more weight on the negative things. If you were to switch that around and actually notice all the positive things throughout your day, your life would be much different. If you took note of every tiny, little thing that went right in your day in detail, you would see things differently. The little things add up.
For example, think about your car starting in the morning, so you can get to work on time. Do you notice that every day? Probably not. I’m sure you remember the day your car didn’t start or you had a flat tire and were late to work. So many things go right every day that we just gloss over. If you didn’t gloss over so many of them, you would notice how many parts of your life are going really well. You had a nice moment when a co-worker passed you in the hall and smiled. You had a nice moment when you finished something on time. You had a nice moment when you connected with someone you care about. All these things in your life matter. They deserve recognition. If you tend to your positive emotions, they will grow.
You can take noticing the positive a step further. Someone you love is annoying you. You keep noticing all the things they’re doing and all the parts of their personality that are bothering you. If you were to notice all the things about them that you admire, love and enjoy, things would be different. Your emotions would have more balance. Your focus would change and you would see them as a whole person rather than a collection of annoyances. You would begin to notice all the wonderful things they are doing and saying. You would remember why you care about them so deeply. Once you are noticing all the good things about someone, your interactions with them change. They notice. Their interactions change too.
Positive emotions have a huge impact on your own personal well-being and on the health of your relationships. Feeling positive is a really powerful thing. It can change your life and the lives of those around you. Noticing the good things in life is contagious. Once you get going, you won’t want to stop. It feels good. It’s effective. It’s life altering.
Once you start noticing positive things, your views and possibilities open up. Resources become easier to recognize. You may be more creative. You may feel lighter and freer. Your life may become filled with more enjoyment and the ability to relax. You may discover new parts of yourself. Your level of resilience goes up. The possibilities available to you are endless.
Finding meaning in your everyday life builds your resilience. Finding the lessons in things that on the surface seem to have no value, builds resilience. You can also learn from positive experiences. Knowing the lessons life presents to you helps you learn about yourself and the “why” behind your resilience. Your life lessons provide you with experiences that help you cope when the next experience comes along.
Seeing the value of positive things and lessons from experiences helps you grow. This way of thinking builds you up. It increases your strength. It adds to your skill set. It shows you your resources. It helps you become more resilient. When life’s challenges present themselves, you have what it takes to meet the challenge. You know your strengths and are able to call upon them to help get you through. You can see a wide view of possibilities so you can find the best solution for you.
Positive emotions help you self regulate. After a fearful event or a situation that increases your anxiety or even leads you to panic, positive emotions can help get your body back in balance. Even when you’re in the thick of things, positive emotions can help you cope. Having a positive belief foundation bolsters resilience -- making it easier for you to recover from your experience more easily and more quickly.
Removing yourself from the experience of trauma, or whatever is causing you discomfort, and focusing on the positive can help you reset both emotionally and physically. Even if you have been away from your normal baseline for an extended period of time, the power of positive emotion can help you break the pattern and find relief. A positive focus opens up your thought process so you can see the wide range of your personal possibilities and choose what to do next. Feeling positive emotions is healing.
Resilience and positive emotions are tied to each other. When you feel positive, you're more resilient and when you’re resilient, you tend to be more positive. It’s a nice loop to live in. Being resilient will reinforce your positive emotions and help you notice the positive things in your life. As you stay in this positive feedback loop, you will learn to become better and better at being positively resilient. The more resilient you become, the better you will be able to handle stressful situations despite any anxiety, panic or fear you may experience. Your positivity will shine through and support you along the way.