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Owning Your Negative Emotions

Many performance advisors will tell you to “lose” your anger (frustration) and so-called negative feelings. They will say something like it wastes energy, attracts bad things etc.  

The connotation is often “shake it off”– encouraging people to ignore their negative feelings. However, this prohibits the opportunity to dissect feelings, which in turn leaves the feeling festering and interfering with future performances.  

Think about the check engine light in a car. Do you ignore that? Pain (both physical and mental) is meant to get your attention. It’s meant to help us figure out how to best avoid the cause in the future. This is why denying so-called negative emotions hurts more in the long run. Instead of denying this signal (which often results in self-destructive moves), figure out what’s going on.   

Fears, frustrations and regrets can illuminate things we need to know. Itemizing feelings actually dissipates their unpleasant energy and in turn opens up pathways otherwise hidden. Admitting to shades of these “negative feelings” REDUCES the chance that the feeling gets in your way.   

Identify the feeling, try to understand where it’s coming from, and understand how it could be coloring your perceptions.  

“Negative emotions” like anger can be very useful.  But, in our misguided attempts to be positive, we shove it out of sight only to have it become distorted and exaggerated. We lose its value and suffer more.  

There is a very real phenomenon where people are afraid of what their anger will create. In other words, we subconsciously fear what we will do IF we recognize it. We are actually afraid of our own power (and impulsiveness). This fear causes us to hold it in– which often turns to “expressing” it towards oneself (i.e. self-destructive) in the form of inexplicable behaviors.   

Owning it interrupts this process.   

If you’re angry, don’t try to make a decision or take action. Try to put that anger into words rather than ignoring it. Feel it, acknowledge it, and sit with it– but don’t act on it. 

When we suppress our feelings, they often re-emerge in impulse, illness and idiocy. Alternatively, we can lean into them and gain fuel, focus, wisdom and power. 

Harness your extreme frustration, your anger. Use them to your advantage. Don’t ignore these feelings in attempts to “be positive”– this will likely only distort/ exaggerate them.  

The trader or portfolio manager who only ever tries to control pr “ignore” emotion loses the opportunity to have a more nuanced window into their evaluations. 

An emotion alone never made or lost a dime. It’s only acting on the emotion that makes or loses money. Learn to control your behavior, not your emotions. Don’t ignore your feelings/ emotions. Learn to sit with them, investigate them, and then choose controlled/disciplined behavior. 

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