Harnessing the Force of Love to Change Your Life

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Awaken the Giant Within" by Tony Robbins. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you looking for a positive and negative emotions list? How can you benefit from understanding your emotions better? 

We all experience a wide range of emotions in our daily lives. Sometimes, it’s difficult to understand why we feel the way we do, but this positive and negative emotions list can help. Understanding your emotions will help you to deal with the negative ones and achieve emotional mastery, improving your life for the better. 

Find our positive and negative emotions list below. 

The Complete Positive and Negative Emotions List

The following positive and negative emotions lists will explore typical emotions you experience in your daily life. 

Negative Emotions List

Our positive and negative emotions list will start with negative emotions. It’s important to understand where your negative emotions come from and to find ways of dealing with them before they get out of hand. Keep reading to find useful tips about how to deal with negative emotions

1) Discomfort

Discomfort comes in the form of impatience, boredom, mild embarrassment, unease, or distress. These emotions let you know that something is not quite right; your perception of a situation may be skewed, or your actions may not be creating the results you want.

Solution: Although discomfort is only mildly painful, it will intensify if you don’t deal with the issue. Deal with your discomfort before it grows by: 

  1. Changing your state (do this by changing your focus or your physiology, as discussed in Chapters 5, 6, and 7)
  2. Identifying what you want, if the problem is that your actions aren’t producing your desired results. When you are clear about what you want, then you can take the next step, which is: 
  3. Changing the way you approach the situation—a different approach will produce different results. 

2) Fear

Fear encompasses apprehension, concern, anxiety, worry, fright, and terror. The purpose of fear is to urge you to prepare to deal with a situation or prepare to change a situation. Don’t allow yourself to amplify fear by imaging the worst-case-scenarios, or to pretend the fear doesn’t exist.

Solution: Reflect on what’s causing your fear and what kind of preparation you can do to mitigate that fear. For example, if you’re dealing with stage fright because you’re about to make a big presentation at work, ensure that you’re thoroughly prepared for every aspect of the presentation to ease your fears. If you’ve done all the preparation you can and you’re still fearful, use the strategies we’ve discussed to change your focus and remind yourself that you’re well-prepared and that fears are often overblown.

3) Hurt

When you feel hurt, it generally means that you feel a sense of loss, and that loss typically comes from an unmet expectation. For example, if you expected your friend not to tell anyone something you shared—even if you never explicitly expressed this expectation—and they shared it with someone else, you probably feel a loss of intimacy or trust. 

Solution: Reevaluate the situation and the reason you’re feeling hurt:

  1. Acknowledge that your loss may be perceived, not real. For instance, if your friend didn’t know it was a secret and had no intention of violating your trust, then you haven’t actually lost trust and you should reasonably be able to trust your friend in the future.  
  2. Consider whether you may be judging this as a loss prematurely, or that your judgment may be too harsh. For example, if your friend reveals that she’s moving far away, you may feel hurt because you anticipate the loss of your friendship. However, you’re mourning the relationship prematurely because you don’t know yet if the distance will diminish your relationship.
  3. Tell the other person how you feel. For example, simply tell the friend who told your secret that when the situation happened, you misinterpreted her actions to mean that she didn’t care about you, and ask her to explain what really happened. Hearing her perspective may change your perception of the situation and eliminate the feeling of loss and hurt. 

 4) Anger

You can feel anger through irritation, resentment, fury, or rage. Feelings of anger let you know that you or someone else has violated a rule or standard that is important to you. (We’ll talk more about rules in Chapter 13 but, briefly, they are the conditions you decide must happen in order for you to feel that something has been satisfied or fulfilled. For example, you may have a rule that in order for a relationship to be healthy and intimate, both people must divulge their deepest secrets to each other.) 

Solution: Reevaluate the situation that’s angering you, similarly to the way you do when you’re hurt: 

  1. Recognize that you could be misinterpreting the situation. The person who violated your rule probably didn’t know that it was important to you; they may not even realize they did anything wrong. 
  2. Acknowledge that the standards you hold for yourself are not the same ones that everyone holds for themselves, and that may be true of the person who angered you. Alternatively, the person may hold the same standard, but it might carry less weight for her than it does for you. 
  3. Remind yourself that, despite this misstep, this person does care about you. Consider what you can learn from this situation, and brainstorm how to let this person know that this is an important rule for you so that they don’t violate it again in the future. 

5) Frustration

Frustration is actually a positive signal because it means that you’re within reach of something you want, but the methods you’re using to get there aren’t working. This is a sign that you need to change your approach to get what you want. 

Solution: Think of frustration as a tough-but-fair coach who’s pushing you to achieve greater things. Try these strategies to use your frustration for progress:

  1. Recognize that frustration is a sign that you’re close to something positive. Brainstorm ways to alter your approach to achieve the results you want. 
  2. Emulate someone who has reached the goal you’re working toward. Ask that person how she achieved it, and compare her approach with your own. 
  3. Reflect on what you can learn from this frustration so that you can get past it this time and, in the future, you can work through it more quickly—or avoid it entirely. 

6) Disappointment

Disappointment can feel like sadness, defeat, being let down, or feeling like you’ve missed out on something. Disappointment is similar to frustration because it’s a sign that you’re falling short of your goal—however, whereas frustration signals that your goal is achievable if you change your approach, disappointment signals that your goal is impossible to achieve

Solution: In order to cope with disappointment, reassess your goal and your approach. There are various ways to do this:  

  1. Think about what you can learn from this situation. After gaining more knowledge and skill, you may be able to achieve this goal in the future. 
  2. Set a new goal that’s not only more achievable, but also inspiring enough to motivate and energize you, which will ease your disappointment. The new goal should be something you can immediately start making progress toward reaching. 
  3. Consider whether your goal is impossible, or if your timeline is impossible. You may simply need to allow more time to reach this goal. Extend your timeline for reaching this goal, bolster your patience, and brainstorm a new approach to achieve what you want. 
  4. Keep your expectations about the future optimistic, and don’t allow this disappointment to dictate your attitude about approaching goals and challenges in the future. 

7) Guilt

Guilt, remorse, and regret are all in the same family of emotions. Guilt arises when you break one of the highest standards you set for yourself, and it’s meant to deter you from ever violating that standard again. Most people want to avoid guilt more than almost any other emotion, which means that it’s a powerful motivator (pain avoidance). There are three ways people react to guilt: 

  1. They try to ignore and suppress it, which only causes the guilt to intensify. 
  2. They submit to it, continue to feel inferior, and potentially develop learned helplessness. Some people perpetually feel guilt because they constantly set standards that they fail to meet. 
  3. They use it to create strong leverage to change the behavior that caused them to violate their standard. 

Solution: In order to make constructive use of your guilt, follow these steps: 

  1. Acknowledge that you’ve broken a standard that’s important to you.
  2. Vow to yourself that you won’t violate this standard again in the future. Envision yourself repeating the scenario you feel guilty about, but imagine how you could have acted in a way that would not have broken your standard. 
  3. Let go of your guilt. Once you’ve committed to changing your behavior, the guilt has served its purpose and you can release it. 

8) Inadequacy

Inadequacy is the feeling of being unworthy because you can’t do something that you believe you should be able to do. This emotion signals that you may not have the right tools, resources, strategies, knowledge, or confidence to perform this task. 

Solution: Inadequacy often results from setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. First, evaluate whether it’s reasonable to think that you can meet the expectations you set in the first place. Second, determine whether it’s fair for you to feel bad that you couldn’t achieve these expectations. If you still feel that your expectations are reasonable, then you have two options: 

  1. Remember that your feeling of inadequacy is merely a signal that you need to keep looking for more knowledge, tools, and strategies. Release unrealistic expectations. Commit to constant and never-ending improvement (CANI!). 
  2. Find someone who’s done what you’re trying to achieve, and ask them for help. Embrace your role as a student, and try to get as much knowledge and advice as you can from this person. 

If you allow yourself to believe that you’re innately and permanently inadequate, you’ll succumb to a pattern of learned helplessness. By contrast, if you recognize that you’re simply lacking an acquirable skill, then you’ll be empowered to learn and achieve your goal. 

9) Overload or Overwhelm

When you feel that you’re facing problems that are beyond your control and that provide no empowering lessons, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed, overloaded, depressed, aggrieved, or helpless. This means that you feel that you can’t deal with the quantity, intensity, or pace of problems coming at you—and you’re right. This emotion signals that you’re trying to deal with too much at once, and that it’s infeasible. 

Solution: Since the problem is that you’re trying to do too much, the solution is to narrow your focus

  1. Reflect on all of the things in your life that you’re dealing with, and decide which are the most important. 
  2. Write down the most important things for you to achieve, in order of priority. Seeing them on paper should give you a sense of control over the situation. 
  3. Tackle the first task on your list. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to the next task. As you make progress, you’ll feel an increasing sense of control. 
  4. Continue focusing on what you can control, which will help you release your feeling of being overwhelmed. Recognize that you can always change your focus to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

10) Loneliness

Loneliness can cause you to feel alone or somehow separate from others. This emotion signals that you need connection with other people. 

Solution: Lonely people often assume that the connection they need is romantic or sexual, but seeking merely sexual connection can cause frustration and more loneliness because it doesn’t satisfy your deeper emotional needs. A better strategy is to: 

  1. Recognize that there are people all around who you could connect with. 
  2. Reflect on the type of connection you’re yearning for. You may be in need of a friend, a confidante, or an intimate partner. 
  3. Remember that loneliness is a good sign, because it means that you care about people and want to connect with them. 
  4. Take steps immediately to connect with someone.

Positive Emotions List

If you think of your mind as a garden, the 10 negatives we just discussed are weeds: They must be addressed before they get out of hand and encroach on your flowers (positive emotions). While you address and learn from your negative emotions, be sure to also nurture your positive ones. The more you nurture your positive emotions, the better protection they provide against negative emotions.  

Our positive and negative emotions list will continue with a exploration of 10 common positive emotions:

  1. Love and warmth are among the strongest antidotes to negative emotions. If someone approaches you with anger or another painful emotion and you continually respond with love and warmth, you will eventually soften their negative emotion. 
  2. Appreciation and gratitude show your love for the gifts you’ve been given in life, and cultivating these emotions raises your quality of life. 
  3. Curiosity infuses your life with wonder and makes you want to do things that may have previously seemed unappealing, which can lead to empowering experiences. 
  4. Excitement and passion increase your energy and enthusiasm toward life. Passion inspires you to progress toward your goals more quickly because it turns challenges into opportunities
  5. Determination is the difference between succumbing to challenges and overcoming them. You need determination in order to accomplish your goals and improve your life. Determination requires courage to carry on in spite of challenges, and courage  banishes frustration and disappointment.
  6. Flexibility aids your determination because it allows you to adjust your approach when needed, which can make the difference between failure and success. If you’re too rigid and refuse to be flexible, then you’ll inevitably become stuck in the face of an obstacle. 
  7. Confidence gives you the strength to carry on in spite of uncertain challenges and outcomes. Cultivate confidence by having faith in your ability to do something and reach your goals. The more you practice being confident, the more you will feel confident. 
  8. Cheerfulness goes beyond feeling inwardly happy—cheerfulness spreads happiness to those around you, while also vanquishing painful feelings such as anger, depression, disappointment, fear, frustration, guilt, hurt, and inadequacy. Being cheerful doesn’t mean that you deny having challenges, but that you feel assured that you have the tools to overcome them, which raises your self-esteem. 
  9. Physical vitality is essential so that you can enjoy the other power emotions to the fullest. Remember from Chapter 5 that many emotions start in your physiology, meaning that there are physical adjustments you can make to improve your emotional health. For example, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep (six to seven hours is optimal) and breathing in a way that circulates enough oxygen throughout your body, both of which will energize you. 
  10. Contribution—or giving back to those around you and the world as a whole—is the key to living a rich and fulfilling life. Improving someone else’s life and making others feel better are two of the most powerful ways to improve your own life. However, contribution does not equate to martyrdom; be sure to continue taking care of yourself as you help others.

The above positive and negative emotions list will help you to understand yourself better and achieve emotional mastery. 

Positive and Negative Emotions List, With Explanations

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Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

One thought on “Positive and Negative Emotions List, With Explanations

  • February 26, 2023 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve wondered if our list of negative emotion names far exceeds our positive ones.

    We’ve heard of the negativity bias in the human psyche for survival, could this manifest in a bias in the baming/identifying of positive and negative emotions.


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