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Marek Struszczyk

Co-Founder ManagerUp

Last modified: June 8th, 2023

Achieving an emotional balance between positive and negative emotions at work can be difficult. But did you know that by striking the right balance, you better position yourself for greater career success? 

It’s natural to experience both positive and negative emotions in the workplace. Both types of emotions play important roles in our professional lives. The challenge is understanding how they can interact with each other. And believe me; it can be incredibly complex. Neuroscientists are still trying to figure it all out!

We know that excessive negative emotions can lead to burnout and decreased work performance. But did you also know that an excessive focus on positive emotions can lead to a lack of productivity and an inability to cope with challenges? 

Even though we tend to think of positive emotions as desirable and negative emotions as undesirable, the reality is that it’s not always black and white when it comes to emotions.

Ultimately, it is the balance between positive and negative emotions that determines our ability to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world. By cultivating awareness and acceptance of both, we can develop greater resilience, build stronger relationships, and lead more fulfilling lives.

Emotional balance: The complex interplay between negative and positive emotions

As noted, the interplay between positive and negative emotions is not always straightforward or predictable. 

Even though they’re at opposing ends of the scale, negative and positive emotions can work together in several ways. The outcome is not always as expected.

Research suggests that experiencing negative emotions such as anger or sadness is beneficial in certain situations. It can motivate you to take action and make changes in your life. At the same time, too many positive emotions can lead to risky or impulsive behavior.

Positive and negative emotions can also interact to create complex emotional experiences, such as mixed emotions or emotional ambivalence. For example, when a person experiences both positive and negative emotions simultaneously, it can result in feelings of conflict, uncertainty, and stress.

And finally, negative emotions can serve as a catalyst for positive emotions. For example, sadness or disappointment can lead to increased motivation and determination to do better in the future. 

The interplay between positive and negative emotions is complex and dynamic. Both emotions serve essential functions and can work together to shape our experiences and behavior. The goal is to find a healthy balance that allows you to experience a full range of emotions while maintaining overall well-being.

How to balance negative and positive emotions 

While we might not be able to predict how our emotions will interact, there are techniques we can employ to help keep them in check.

  • Mindfulness practices: Engage in mindfulness activities such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga, which can help you stay in the present moment and reduce stress and negative emotions.
  • Gratitude: Cultivate gratitude by focusing on the positive things in your life, no matter how small they may seem. This can help shift your perspective and increase feelings of happiness and positivity.
  • Social support: Surround yourself with supportive and positive people who lift you and make you feel good about yourself. Spending time with loved ones and connecting with others can help to counterbalance negative emotions.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help to release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.
  • Self-care: Make time for self-care, such as taking a relaxing bath, reading a good book, or practicing self-compassion. Ellen DeGeneres, talk show host and comedian, has emphasized the importance of self-care and taking time for oneself to stay balanced and centered. It can help to soothe negative emotions and promote feelings of well-being.
  • Prayer: Setting spiritual goals and engaging in spiritual practices like prayer can help you find real meaning and fulfillment in your career. This can help ease negative feelings and boost spiritual energy.
  • Seek professional help: If negative emotions are overwhelming and interfere with your daily life, it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a mental health professional.

Striking emotional balance

Overall, the interplay between positive and negative emotions is complex and nuanced. While it’s clear that both types of emotions play important roles in our lives, it’s also clear that they can interact with each other in unexpected ways. If we can better understand these interactions, we can learn to regulate our emotions better. We will be better placed to achieve both our professional and personal goals.


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