6 negative, 3 positive— the daily spectrum of our emotions

we have 6 words for negative emotions, and only two for positive, a third would be ‘curiosity’.

But that’s our choice.

That fact is observable.

But it is no more ‘true’ than using a single word for “snow”, when we all know there are so many subtle distinctions that can be articulated in Inuit.  And it is no more ‘true’ than French having a single word for grass, or English having six.

Why is this important?

Consider for example there is only one word for “love” … a fact that could probably be one of the biggest travesties we do to ourselves.

The ancient Greeks were much smarter: they have 4 words for love – creating important distinctions, communicating choices, creating new possibilities, and minimising miscommunications.  But a moment’s reflection shows that even 4 is not sufficient – contemplating the 4 in the context of our personal experience quickly shows more could be found.  And what happens when we give something a name?

Language is creative.  It is definitive.  Nothing exists in our minds in the absence of a label to hang it on – we are dependent on words and on using words to make sense of our experience.  With a new label in place, we become equipped to achieve breakthroughs in new fields of endeavour that were previously impossible and – quite literally – unthinkable.  Space travel, electronics, medicine, and much more, in all fields the necessary vocabulary precedes mastery.  In the absence of vocabulary to process positive, uplifting experience, it is hardly surprising the richness of our experience is reflected in the complex vocabulary we have for processing uncomfortable and undesirable experiences.

So …

What if we could come up with 6 words for positive emotions?  6 distinct, independent dimensions of good feelings?  6 counterparties to the 6 negative emotions?

Would that make a difference?

Every physical particle in the Universe has an anti-particle.  Every ‘down’ has it’s relative ‘up’.  Where are those blind-spots in our experience that are illuminated by the imbalance in our emotional vocabulary?

what do you think?

Me, I think that particular intervention could be an evolutionary step above the “get used to it and get on with it” intervention, and TWO evolutionary steps above “positive thinking”.  The downside of positive thinking is in the way it intends to banish negative feelings and negative thinking.  But rather, becoming equally present to both positive and negative experiences allows us greater flexibility in thinking, and in action.

Maybe when we complete the canvas of alternatives by creating the missing definitions, we move closer to a state of acceptance and peace …

* BLOG courtesy of JB

Author: Pascale Aline

Psychotherapist & Performance Coach, I specialize working with tools for self enhancement, growth, productivity and healing (Biofeedback, EMDR, Mindfulness training)

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