Emotions are incredibly vital to our experience. Without them, life would just feel empty. Emotions color our worlds; they are the spices of our lives.
Emotions are also feared and misunderstood by many people. They can be a scary or dreaded topic. Emotions have unfortunately been associated with frivolity and weakness, leading many to believe that emotions can simply be tossed away and ignored.
Emotions have also been discredited by some. Some people believe emotions are meaningless and are merely a chemical reaction occurring in our bodies- an influx of neurotransmitters interpreted by our brains to produce a certain fleeting feeling.
We are emotional, mental, physical, and if you believe so, spiritual beings. These aspects of ourselves are not separate- any imbalances in one sphere inevitably affect the others. If we neglect our emotional bodies, those repressed and unprocessed emotions will cause our mental and physical bodies to also feel neglected.
For example, if we happen to repress our feelings of anger, that anger will show up in our mental and physical bodies as stress. Mentally, we will be unable to think as clearly and holistically. Physically, we might have aches and pains and lower energy.
The truth is that emotions need to be respected for life to really be enjoyed. Without emotions, we can not truly listen to our inner selves. Without emotions, we can not authentically forge relationships with others. Without emotions, we can not truly take care of ourselves. Spiritually, we might feel disconnected from the world and even resentful, causing us to feed or create beliefs about the world that do not serve as (such as believing we are alone, or that no one understands us, or that others will always disappoint us.)
Emotions can also be overanalyzed. Overanalyzing emotions can be just another tactic to avoid really feeling our emotions. We might feel sad one day, and we might overanalyze that emotion as a way to distance ourselves and disown that feeling. When we overanalyze, we put too much emphasis on logic and reasoning in order to claim a false sense of security regarding our emotional capacities.
In truth, emotions are very simple to deal with. We just need to feel them. We can not just acknowledge them, we actually have to be present with our emotions and feel them fully in order to release them.
This may seem scary, but I have a tip that might help you deal with them more courageously. Remember that emotions are feelings, and our feelings live in our bodies. We can falsely intensify our emotions by trying to feel them mentally, but this is just another way to overanalyze our emotions. To feel our emotions, we must tune into our physical bodies and notice how the emotion affects us. Does the emotion move through our chest and make us feel suffocated? Does the emotion show up in the backs of our necks, or does it make the pit of our stomachs feel incredibly heavy?
Really allow yourself to notice how the emotion feels in your body. Emotions are like batches of water that fill our experience. Imagine yourself in a sea of turbulent water, trying desperately to keep yourself afloat and fighting mercilessly- this is what its like to fight your emotions. To find peace again, we have to sink down to the very bottom of the pool, where we can finally pull the plug. The old emotions drain out and we can reach an equilibrium again where it is easy to swim.
By swimming down to the bottom, we are feeling the true depths of our emotions. By pulling the plug, we are allowing old emotions to be released so that we may find a healthy equilibrium wherein we are not so overwhelmed by our emotions that we are fighting them and trying desperately to not drown in their turbulent waters. By regularly feeling our emotions, we allow our emotional waters to acquire an enjoyable quality. By ignoring our emotions, we allow those emotional waters to become turbulent. Those waters will become more and more turbulent the more you try to ignore them. You can become better and better and trying to stay afloat, but you will only strain yourself more and more.
When you feel emotions coming up, give them your attention and notice them. Set aside alone time at regular intervals throughout your week to process your emotions. Usually, when one emotion comes up, this means an entire wave of various emotions can be expected. Don't be afraid of this momentum, allow it to come and allow yourself to feel it. You need this alone time to really process your emotions. This is your time to feel the anger, the sadness, the resentment, that you may have been trying to suppress or avoid. This is the time you need to clean out your emotional body.
To fully feel your emotions, you might be drawn to writing about them, screaming, punching an object, or breaking things. Try to find an outlet for the emotional momentum. Emotions can carry lots of power, and the suppressed emotions tend to accumulate the most momentum. Sometimes feeling them requires you to do something physical to release them. Sometimes feeling them requires you to write about them so that you may become more aware of them. Allow yourself the outlets that feel right to you. Without a proper outlet, you might take your emotions out on others- you may be physically or verbally abusive, passive-aggressive, etc. Don't take your emotions out on others.
By releasing our emotions, we can stop harmful behavior driven by the avoidance of our emotions. For example, someone who tries to suppress their feelings of worry might exhibit signs of possessiveness and/or be a control freak. Their worry eventually slips out and they are afraid of it, so they act in ways to desperately seek security and control. Our emotions have such an impact on our behavior that suppressed emotions may create personality traits that are inauthentic and harmful to us, which inevitably affects our relationships and usually drains them. You can not have truly healthy relationships if you are emotionally unhealthy.
By respecting your emotions, you will feel so much better. There is a lightness and security that comes with emotional release. You don't have to try to release everything at once. You can feel your emotions bit by bit and expand your comfort zone with each passing feeling that you fully experience. Don't try to intellectualize your feelings- that logic is best used for redirecting your thoughts. Emotions are not thoughts. Emotions may charge thoughts and intensify certain directions of thoughts, but emotions are not thoughts. This is a very important distinction.
Let go of any expectations of eternal and exclusive happiness. With growth comes pain. I am an extremely happy person; many of my friends would say I am the happiest person they know. Yet, happiness is not the only emotion I feel. Happiness is certainly the dominant and most frequent emotion I feel, but I also feel sadness and anger and fear and worry. I am able to work through those emotions and understand their relationship with my thoughts and physical body and that in turn allows me to clarify my intentions and make the choices and fulfill the actions that support my goals and values in life. Emotions are incredibly important in living a fulfilling life, and living a fulfilling life is what allows you to be really happy.
Please feel free to leave a comment and ask about or discuss your experiences or questions about emotions. Take care and be good to yourself.