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Make Space for Positive Emotions Like You Would a Quiet Friend

·347 words·2 mins
Mental Health

One of the guiding principles of my life is this: I should be spending more time supporting things I love than attacking things I hate.

I frankly spend almost no time criticizing things that aren’t my cup of tea. Instead, I shrug and move on. And the bulk of my time is spent making things I like better and cheering on other folks who are doing the same.

If I’m not doing this, something is wrong. It means I’ve lost sight of my values. I’ve strayed from the path.

I try to be constructive. And while the phrase “constructive criticism” is well known, I find I feel most constructive not when I’m offering criticism (however incisive and good faith) but when I’m actively building something. When I’m… constructing.

And as I was saying the other day on the Poly Land Discord server, I do think it stems from the fact that I make an active effort to spend more time with positive emotions than negative ones.

When I talk about being positive, people are often like, “Well, the negative emotions are there for balance. They’re important too.”

And this is 100% true. But the fact of the matter is that darker emotions — anger and hatred — will make their presence known. They are loud. They won’t let you forget them.

Those feelings are better at joining the conversation on their own.

Positive emotions aren’t. We must check in on these other emotions that are quieter and more easily forgotten. It’s very much like creating space for a quiet friend to participate in a conversation when they’re trying to talk but no one is listening to them.

Just with your emotions.

Once upon a time, I would have laughed at the premise of this essay. I likely would have found it naive, misguided, and unrealistic. But I’m glad some past version of me found the open-mindedness to actually try this. To step away from the cathartic addiction to anger. And make room for the rest of my emotions.

It was transformative beyond compare. I’m never going back.


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