You Can’t Make a Positive Change With Negative Emotions

Negative emotions are great for defining and identifying a problem.

We are angry when our personal boundaries are crossed. We’re depressed when in a draining relationship. Sad or rejected when others don’t want us or we suffer loss. Cranky when we’re tired.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling these emotions, they are natural and expected reactions to have. But they are all low energy, negative emotions. More importantly, when you start expressing them to others, they are almost always going to be a Display of Low Value of some sort.

Just think about it. Who wants to be with someone who is angry, depressed, emotionally hurt and irritable. Even more to the point, who wants to take their clothes off and get down and dirty with a morose whiny prick?  Vag-clang!

Now you can explode a huge wave of negative emotions at someone and get them to comply with your relationship demands successfully, but it will only be a short-term victory. You’ll buy a few days of peaceful compliance, but at the cost of slowly worsening your relationship happiness. Your partner starts to resent you more and more, as their love for you slowly gives away to far more negative emotions… like fear, pain and eventually hate.

Your endless expression of negative emotions simply makes the relationship worse.

The only true solution of negative problems, is by being positive. Just as negative emotions make things worse, positive emotions tend to make things better.

Calm insistence on good personal boundaries works better than victim puking rage. Being energetic and getting into positive action slowly wins the war over depression. Not wallowing in sadness when others don’t love us and getting out and finding those that do is the path to happiness. Sleep and relaxation trumps cranky and tired.

You cannot make a positive change with negative emotions.

Now this may all sound like Pollyanna playing the Glad Game, but it’s not quite that simple. This is the real world, where things are hard, life can be difficult, money is hard to make and true love is rare, precious and probably not for you.

Hang on…

How did that last sentence just feel?

When I said “This is the real world, where things are hard, life can be difficult, money is hard to make and true love is rare, precious and probably not for you.”  Did you just feel the weight of world smashing down upon you and want to give up even trying to be happy?

I bet you did.

That’s because feelings are infectious.

So stop trying to infect everyone around you with your crappy day. All that happens is your crappy day gets reflected right back to you and you feel worse for it.

Find some part of your life to start working on more positively and productively. In time you’ll find it grows stronger and happier, then those positive feelings start to infect other parts of your life and the people around you. Then your good days start getting reflected right back to you and you’ll feel the better for it.

Now this may all sound like Pollyanna playing the Glad Game…

…but you’ll find out soon enough that only most people respond positively to you being more positive. In fact some people will respond to you even worse than before. Those people are incredibly toxic to you and sometimes the best thing you can do is cut them from your life as much as possible. Sometimes that will be a very negative experience at the time, but ultimately a positive one over the long haul.

But even then, removal of a negative effect in your life doesn’t make you happy, it simply removes something making you unhappy. You still have to act positively to become happy in the aftermath of it.

Sometimes being positive in the face of negativity is the hardest thing in the world. But it’s the only thing that can result in a positive change.


  1. Well said! My ex-wife did this for years, (even after running the MAP), was one of the things that ended it for me.

  2. This comes at a stressful time for and my wife and family.
    There feels like there is so much causing negative feelings that I have for weeks been unable to be happy at home.
    this article has hit me hard.

  3. 2manypasswords says:

    A good post & a timely one, as holidays are coming up and I have an emotional vampire relative whose demands and criticism always get worse this time of year. But my plan is to ignore her and to not complain about her (and to not complain at all, lofty as that goal may be).

  4. Karl_Hungus says:

    Excellent, and very timely post, Athol. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. TimSim1971 says:

    Great post! I needed that today – this is a very stressful time of year for me (and pretty much everyone I suspect)..

    Just thanks

  6. Thanks

  7. Joe Commenter says:

    This is so true. Fake it till you make it really does work. Being positive and stating positive ideas to others starts to shape your expectations of their behavior, and they begin to live up to your positive expectations.

    So If I occasionally repeat to my wife, “you know, I really like how you keep yourself in good shape and wear stylish clothes. That means a lot to me”. After a while my wife begins to internalize this and starts to want to live up to my compliments. Same thing with arguments, “I really like how we can sit down and work thru our problems without getting defensive and tearing each other apart”. Arguments start going much better. It’s almost sneaky. But what I am doing is simply verbally laying out my expectations. Leadership is what it is.

    Positive energy is very effective in the work world as well. The best part is, after being positive, you start getting people wanting to be around you more and more and after a while you start internalizing the positive.

  8. Awesome post, and I have re-posted on my blog. Hope this gets picked up elsewhere, it’s well worth getting this out there. A reminder that so many need to hear not only at this time of year, but always! It’s so much easier to let yourself go with negative feelings… and always so much the worse. The little effort made in positive attitude (cogito ergo sum-I think, therefore I am) reaps way more benefit, it’s a synergistic principle in my book.

  9. I’m sorry for going off-topic, but I’d really like to thank Athol Kay for his book and his blog. It really changed the way I relate to the opposite sex. Though the betaization process of husbands in Latin America (I live in Brazil) is still behind that of the Western world, men are already beginning to complain that women say they want a “bonzinho” – nice guy – but go for the “cafajeste” – the Portuguese word for bad boy.

    As a famous Brazilian playwriter said 50 years ago, the male qualities that make women desire him sexually, are not the same that makes him a good husband. He is still hostilized for having said that. But guess what, he was right.

    When I went to the US, I couldn’t help noticing how men are passive around women. You usually say that marriage in the US is more equal, but I think “equal” is a codeword for female-dominated relationship. Husbands in America try very hard not to displease their wives, and from what I read in the manosphere, they aren’t getting laid as much as they would like to. Women actually don’t appreciate this behavior and may even lose their desire for their husbands.


  10. Great post. I wish I could say that it didn’t apply to me, but it does. I have been so negative it’s annoying to be me, let alone be around me. My wife is always so positive, and I don’t know how she deals with it. I wish I could “be positive”, but I’m facing some kind of depression, and it clouds everything in negativity. I even woke up feeling great today, but by the time my wife brought the kids home negativity had set in. I fear that negativity will drive her away all by itself. Her well of understanding and empathy can only be so deep…before she just checks out for her own sanity’s sake. She’s encouraging me to go out of the house if I need a break. Bar or gym?…

  11. joe Commenter says:

    @PUP. Skip the gym, skip the bar. Go to the doctor. It sounds like you have clinical depression. Anti-depressants can help immensely. But take as little dosage as you can to get benefits. They have a tendency to be boner killers.

  12. So much in this post. Just a really good post.

  13. Great timing! I have been running the MAP for 1.5 years and while it has worked very well, I still have moments where my emotions get the ‘upper hand.’ I woke up yesterday quite pissed off at the world, including my wife. She had fallen asleep on me the last two nights. Sex was overdue and I was getting cranky to say the least. I was angry when I got home and told her to avoid me. I was pissed. She asked why and instead of unloading on her, I just said it did not matter. We will talk later. I did not want to pick a fight. I had a great workout and met a buddy for drinks. When I got home, I was in a much better mood and I let go of my anger and was just positive. It was not after I banged her hard and long did we talk about why I was upset all day. It did not matter, but we had a good conversation on numerous topics. Still, she knows me well and if I go too long without good sex, I get ticked off…or it could be the egregious comments I drop such as when she described her visit to the doctor to get her flu shot. She was telling me what her doctor told her about this and that and I asked her if he suggested that she f*ck the sh*t out of her husband tonight? We had a good laugh.

  14. Damn, well said. And timely.
    I just read some marriage advice on a forum that reminded me of CS Lewis’ Puddleglum and his experience underground. “Many fall, and few return to the sunlit lands…”
    If it’s all so f*cking awful, what’s the point? Have a laugh, enjoy life. Live longer and have a better marriage. Win/win.

  15. One of the things a lot of people forget is that the best Alpha male trait: confidence, courage, and leadership are all optimistic, positive traits. A man is confident because he believes that his skills and abilities are enough to make him admirable. A man is courageous because he believes that, no matter what the outcome, his choice to face his fears will make the world better. A man is a good leader because he believes both he, and his team, have what it takes to succeed in their common goal – and that he knows how to get the best out of them.

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