Your Emotions Are Telling You Something
July 18, 2021
We feel strong emotions only when something matters to us. Conversely, we tend not to feel any strong emotion to stuff that doesn’t mean much to us.
On any given day, we go through a range of emotions- anger, envy, fear, excitement, happiness, dullness, feeling engaged, disinterested, inspired, satisfied, etc. Most of these emotions are superficial, and we hardly notice them. But there are situations where the feelings are strong.
We get emotionally aroused whenever we encounter situations that mean something to us.
- An argument with a colleague about a task where you become angry or agitated.
- An unexpected appreciation from someone that fills you with a sense of gratitude.
- The year-end increment letter that evokes in you a feeling of satisfaction.
- The death of a dear one that envelopes you in deep sadness.
- The discovery by others or your wrongdoing that fills you with shame.
- The weight of expectations to deliver good results that is burdening you with a feeling of stress.
We are always pleased to bask in the warmth of the positive emotions. They make us feel good. But whenever we come out of a situation laden with strong, negative emotions, we race to the emotional exit and try to suppress them by distracting ourselves. We often push aside these normal, everyday emotions to embrace false positivity, as if there was no issue.
Why do we do this? Because we don’t like feeling those uncomfortable feelings and emotions.
Unfortunately, in the current times, feeling vulnerable to negative emotions is seen a sign of weakness. There is a culture of false positivity, particularly in men, where it is all about keeping your chin up and dealing with whatever curve balls life throws without showing any weakness.
Embrace Your Emotions
Susan David, a world-renowned Psychologist from Harvard Medical School, in her Ted Talk The Gift And Power Of Emotional Courage, says that discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.
Stress, Broken hearts, disappointment from failure- these are all tough, but absolutely normal emotions that are a part of our contract with life. We don’t get to have a meaningful career, raise a family, or make a mark in the world without the stress and discomfort of these negative experiences and negative emotions.
Research indicates that the radical acceptance of all our emotions, even the messy, difficult ones is the cornerstone to resilience, thriving and true authentic happiness.
Our Emotions Are Telling Us Something
When you go through a negative emotion, it is natural to feel bad. But at the core, the negative emotion is signaling to you what you truly value. I recently wrote about the passing away a young friend where apart from experiencing grief, I was filled with sense of regret, for not having been in touch. The emotion of regret was sending me a message about the importance and value of relationships in my life. Instead of suppressing or ignoring the emotion, by staying with it, I was able to derive clarity about actively staying connected with people I value.
Our emotions are signposts to our core values. They contain the subconscious signals for things we care about. They help us understand our core values.
Separate Yourself From Your Emotions
When we label our emotions accurately, we are able to discern more precisely the cause of our feelings.
For example, Grief and Regret are two distinct emotions and it is possible to miss one for the other. By labeling regret correctly, I was able to pin point accurately the source of this emotion. I had not kept in touch.
Therefore, how you label your emotions also plays a critical role in the way you process your feelings.
If you say “I am angry” or “I am sad,” it makes it as if you are the emotion, whereas you are you and the emotion is just a source of data and feedback to you. So, try to notice your feelings for what they are- ” I am noticing that I am feeling grief” or ” I am noticing that I am feeling a sense of regret.” When you separate yourself from your emotions, you become more adept at dealing with them efficiently.
Reject the notion of false positivity. When we are able to process our emotions accurately without suppressing them, we will find ourselves being more creative and engaged with the world around us.