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Leveraging Positivity & Befriending Negativity

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

By Andrea Seydel


The purpose of this podcast is to empower participants with a greater understanding of and control over their emotional life. These skills will prepare you to stay solution focused and empower you to move through life challenges that come your way.

Emotions and the ability to regulate them is what makes us uniquely human. All emotions serve a function. We flourish when our experience of positive emotions is greater than our experience of negative emotions


The capacity to be aware of, control and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. (Google Dictionary)

According to the book The Resilience Factor. Emotion Regulation is the first of the seven top factors of resilience.

Just like when we think of health. The we eat we digest and repel waste. If we are to eat and not digest or repel, things would get stuck. The same thing applies to our emotions. We need to digest, release and keep moving. Positive is not a Happiology, where positive emotions are good and negative emotions are bad. But rather focused on increasing your positive emotions. Reality is we are all human and emotions are not fixed, they are fluid. Emotions aren't problematic. They become problematic when you don't know how to work with them. When you don't know how to work with emotions then they become troublesome.

Personal mastery involves cycling between self-awareness, Self-compassion and self-care. Awareness- compassion- care!!!

Awareness ACTIVITIES: 1. How are you? REALLY? How are you in this moment? What emotion(s) do you notice? What does that feel like in my body? 2. List possible emotions for three minutes. Then circle the positive emotions words and count them. What do you notice 3. Take Positivity ratio 4. Embody emotions- Reflect on each of the following emotions. Angry, Worried, Sad, Excited, Grateful, & Love. Use crayons to colour in what these emotions are like for you. 5. Name that Emotion. Take a list of possible emotion words. Think about each one: How familiar you are with that emotion? What is the emotion like? How frequently do you experience it?

Emotional awareness means knowing when feelings are present in ourselves and others. It is closely related to emotional literacy, which means being able to label feelings with specific words. At it's highest level it means being able to predict feelings in advance.


To gain more awareness consider how evolutionary roles play a part in our emotions. For thousand of years our brains have evolved. Our brain consists of two parts the emotional brain (or lizard brain) and the Rational (or neo-cortex) . The Lizard or reptilian brain is essential for survival and our rational brain, is the part of our brain that helps us ration or reason. It's like the Lizard brain vs the Modern Man, they can fight. The lizard part of the brain is there to keep us safe and protect us. Sometimes when the lizard emotional part of the brain is pumping it takes over the rational part of the brain.

Negative emotions serve an evolutionary role: Protection and Survival. We need to have emotions like worry, anger, guilty to keep us safe. Negative emotions serve a role and function, they key is to not get stuck in the emotional part of our brain. We have to learn to work with both parts of our brain.

Activity: Emotional Brain vs. Rational Brain- Read each trigger situation (Left phone in cab) What does your emotional brain do? What does your rational brain do? What do you notice? How is your reaction different?


Without understanding or having self-awareness, we criticize our self and our experiences. When we find ourselves having emotions and we tend to go to a place of judgment or criticism.

Dr. Kristin Neff the leading researcher of self-compassion and author of Stop Beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. According to her there are three components of Self-Compassion. 1. Treating self with kindness. 2. Sharing a common humanity enables self-compassion.. 3. Building mindfulness and atunnement to personal emotions

We tend to take the weight of the world on our shoulders. We think we need to do this for motivation. Calling yourself fat and lazy if you want to go to the gym will not help you get to the gym but rather more likely to eat a bag of chips. Criticism undermines motivation and contributes more negative emotions. Self-compassion can help you achieve your goals and contribute to positive emotions.


Dr. Barbara Fredrickson research the question, What good are positive emotions. Emotions enable us survive. Angry causes you to fight back, when you feel frustrated you are more likely want to make a change. Negative emotions perform a function. Positive emotions also serve a function. Negative emotions create a downward spiral where as positive emotions create an upward spiral.

Negative emotions lower energy while positive emotions lift energy.

Negative emotions narrow where as Positive emotions Broaden. Both emotions are very important. A shift in our emotions will influence which spiral we go on or whether we are narrow or broadened. In the book The Upside to your Dark Side, we learn that negative emotions have upsides too. Negative emotions can help you be really determined. Think of a time where negative emotions has helped you. It is when we get stuck un negative emotions we get into trouble. Thus, the key is knowing when you need negative emotions, and when you need positive emotions, and be able to induce the state you want.


Another way to deepen your understanding how your emotions affect you. Imagine you recive a review. " Well written, funny, informative, uplifting, but ran a little long." If you received this review, what part would you focus on? If you are like most people you will focus on "ran a little long". It is called the negativity bias. The negativity bias the bad is stronger or more attention getting then good.

Negativity bias says that emotions are not created equally. Our negative emotions have more impact. Negative tends to get more of our attention. Our brain will default to negativity. Evolutionarily speaking, missing the negative was life threatening, missing the positive was not. Miss out on feeling emotions like anger, fear, worry could be dangerous. Going back to the choice map from the growth mindset section, with the judger vs learner path. If we think about the negativity bias, we are more likely to go down the judger path.

Knowing we have this negativity bias allows us to practice more self-awareness and self-compassion. Having an understanding that our brains are simply trying to protect us we can gain self-compassion and understanding. This understanding can lead us into a place of self-care. REFLECTION: In what ways have you seen the negativity bias at play in your life?


Pursuing happiness can actually cause us to be less happiness. Prioritizing Positivity is the key to positive emotions. Habitually taking into account your potential happiness when making decisions about how to organize your life life. Essentially Scheduling "Pleasant events." It doesn't mean you just want to feel good all the time. It's about taking the time to build happiness on a day to day basis. Shift in habits actually build our positive emotions. Take time to pet your pet, gratitude journal, savour, The key is inducing positive emotions, let yourself experience positive emotions. It isn't all that difficult.

Inducing positive emotions is like training your emotional muscles. Broaden and build theory is all about using positive emotions to broaden. Try inducing positive emotions. Our positive emotion muscles are weaker than our negative emotion muscles.

Activity: 1. Induce Positive Emotions- Complete the sentence stems: I feel hopeful when... I am grateful for.... I am in love with... I am inspired by....I take pride in.... I am interested in... I am amused by.... 2. Flip It Exercise- Make a list of what you don't want. The go through and flip it to the positive. I don't want to be stressed. I want to be calm and relaxed. See how it feels different.

Gratitude- One of the most powerful emotions that you can learn to cultivate is gratitude. Gratitude is one of my favourite interventions because there is always something to be grateful for. Good things are happening to me. It is broaden and build at it's best. Gratitude is defined as something you feel when you feel you have been the recipient of someone or something else's positive reaction. Gratitude is one of many emotions and gratitude is a powerful positive emotion. Gratitude creates an upward spirall. You increase your experience of positive emotions. The more you notice on gratitude, the more you feel satisfaction, better sleep and more vitality. Gratitude positively impacts our well-being. It works by: Creating upward spiral, increases positivity, enhances experiences, enables savouring, counters hedonic treadmill, counters materialism, decreases social comparison, decrease stress.

Activity: 1. Gratitude Ping Pong- With a partner, choose an item you'll pass back and forth. Take tunes saying one thing you are grateful for and pass the item each time. Do this for 5 minutes. What do you notice? 2. Journal Three Good Things & Why- Make a list of 3 good things that have happened to you in the past 24 hours and how you contributed to it.

Conclusion and Call to Action

Understanding your emotions and knowing how to work with them will make you healthier, more resilient and efficacious.

Begin noticing, naming and navigating emotions. Prioritize positivity by actively building the positive emotions (gratitude).

Emotions and the ability to regulate them is what makes us uniquely human.All emotions serve a function, Positive emotions broaden, negative emotions narrow. We flourish when our experience of positive emotions is greater than our experience of negative emotions

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