Destructive emotions according to Goleman

Who I am
Louise Hay

Destructive emotions according to Goleman

According to Buddhist philosophy, there are three emotions that alter personal balance: anxiety, lyre and ignorance. Daniel Goleman talks about it in his book "Destructive Emotions", in which he also reports his conversations with the Dalai Lama.

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: 15 November 2021

Destructive Emotions is one of Daniel Goleman's most fascinating books. In this text, the author reveals that when the Dalai Lama joined him and a small group of scientists and philosophers at the top of the Mind Life Institute, the world was about to change.

Only a few months later, in fact, the attacks of 11 September in New York would have occurred. This book is the fruit of all conversations with the spiritual leader, but also of what happened after.

In that meeting, the question arose as to why human beings are able to carry out violent actions or why apparently intelligent and rational people are then able to carry out destructive behaviors.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists and analysts expert in human behavior brought up education, the context of belonging, the personality; but they also cited social, but also genetic and cognitive factors.

Dal canto suo, the Dalai Lama focused on an aspect that particularly interested Daniel Goleman: destructive emotions; those that are often based on mere impulses and bring out the worst in us.

While from psychology we can learn to perceive these realities as "negative emotions", Buddhism labels them as kleshas or afflictions, destabilizing elements that poison the mind.

Disturbing emotions and toxic relationships have been recognized as risk factors promoting the onset of certain diseases.

-Daniel Goleman-

What are destructive emotions?

The first question that might come to mind is: are there really destructive emotions? The psychology of emotions often reminds us that there are no negative emotions.

They all have a purpose, which is why it is not fair to assume that they are divided into positive and negative. For example, fear is a guarantee of survival; sadness inhabits us in periods of introspection to induce us to accept certain realities and change others.

These states, adverse and difficult to accept for the human being, are fundamental for our conduct and also for our survival. So… for what purpose did Daniel Goleman write the book Destructive Emotions?

Goleman's book best-selling in the field of emotional intelligence falls under the scope of spiritual practice. Specifically, it is based on the Dalai Lama's point of view.

This is why Goleman distinguishes the Western perspective on emotions and the more philosophical and less scientific one of Buddhism which, however, offers us a valuable point of view.

During conversations with the Dalai Lama (2001), many of the more rational minds in the West surrendered to the Tibetan leader's approach. And they did it for several reasons.

Adverse emotions: mental states that affect our words and actions

Buddhist philosophy tells us that the most common sources of suffering and unhappiness result in a series of adverse emotions that plunge us into nihilism, ignorance and materialism.

According to the Dalai Lama, it is about mental states that distort our inner dialogue, the way we communicate with others and also our behavior. But what, then, are these emotions so unfavorable according to Buddhism?

  • Hate.
  • Anger.
  • Frustration.
  • Anger.
  • Anxiety.
  • Jealousy.
  • Pride.
  • Envy.
  • Desire understood as attachment.

From a scientific point of view, the Dalai Lama's claims are not all that incorrect if we take one aspect into account. There are actually destructive emotions in the most literal sense of the word. Anger and anxiety in general are particularly harmful.

According to a study conducted by the University of Sydney, the risk of heart attack increases by 8,5 times in the two hours following an uncontrolled and intense outburst. Element to be taken into account.

Kleshas, ​​the poisons of the mind and the four antidotes

The curiosity of psychology towards Buddhism and towards his philosophy it is not new. In fact, in the 60s, this dialogue between Buddhism and Western sciences began.

Studies such as those of Erich Fromm and Carl Gustav Jung embarked on this path that further on it would lead to the Dalai Lama's meetings with figures like Daniel Goleman, Pau Ekman, Richard J. Davidson e Matthieu Ricard, ecc.

In this space of connection and learning, reflections on concepts such as wickedness, suffering and happiness were conducted. An interesting aspect that Buddhism defends is the existence of "antidotes" for the kleshas, ​​for those destructive emotions that poison our mind:

  • Generous love (maitri; byams pa).
  • Compassione (karuna; snying rje).
  • Empathic joy (mudita; dga ”ba).
  • Umiltà (upeksha; btang snyom).

The benefits of meditation

For Buddhist philosophy, meditation is a common practice to train the mind and to achieve a state of calm, greater balance and appreciate the present moment.

The study conducted by Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrates the great benefits of this practice.

This research study lasted over thirty years and highlighted the way meditation promotes neuroplasticity and generates positive changes in our brain. Helps fight stress, promotes greater attention, creativity and emotional management.

So much so that Daniel Goleman himself did not hesitate to dedicate more than one book to the subject, such as the one published two years ago, The Power of Meditation.

Destructive emotions: conclusions

Destructive emotions are psychological states that limit our potential, hence our well-being. Plus, they can bring out the worst in us.

Both Buddhism and modern psychology agree on one aspect: the control of our impulses, of those psychological storms, is in our hands. We have the resources to do so.

add a comment of Destructive emotions according to Goleman
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.