If you have read much of my blog you’ll know I am a big fan of emotions. All of them…the fun ones, the happy ones, the exciting ones…and the hard ones, the difficult ones, the challenging ones. They are our body and mind expresses the feelings we are having. They are authentic and genuine.
Many people try to avoid emotions. Particularly the difficult ones. They try to push them down so they don’t have to experience all of the feelings that come with them. And they want others to not express those emotions either. But that comes at a price. Emotions are energy. If that energy is not expressed then our body holds onto it. Eventually that energy builds up to the point where it has to get out. And more often than not that happens in a bad way. Either in the wrong situations or by being so large they feel unmanageable.
One of the most common reasons I hear people give for not expressing emotions is that having those emotions will make you behave in ways you don’t want to behave. For example, if a person gets angry then they have to yell at someone. Or if they get sad they need to eat or drink to numb the feeling. Or if another person gets angry then we have to get angry and attack back.
I’m sure you’ve had those feelings. You may express it as “when I feel X I have to do Y.” Only you don’t. That’s the thing about emotions. They exist for one reason. To experience them…to feel them. What emotions don’t have to have is a verb. That’s right…there is no requirement that feeling an emotion requires any action, any activity, any verb to follow it.
That is not what we are so often taught. We have been led to believe that emotions need to be fixed or acted upon. But that’s just not true. In fact, putting a verb after an emotion is what so often leads to trouble. It is the action that we incorrectly blame on the emotion that either hurts us, hurts someone else or leaves us with regrets.
Unlinking action from emotions can be a challenge. For so many people they seem inseparable. But they aren’t. Our minds are amazing things. The old part of our brain does want to link action to emotion. That’s where the fight or flight response comes in. Sense something and act to save your life. The problem is that we generally aren’t being chased by lions or bears that often. The feelings we have may be intense, but they aren’t life threatening.
As I said, our brains are amazing. As humans we have a new part to our brain. One that allows us to have logical thought, to stop and consider our actions. We just don’t always use that part well. But we should. We need to. It is what makes us human. It is also what truly lets us make good choices and to connect to others. It is the part that can eliminate so many regrets.
Give is some thought. Think about the verbs you put with different emotions. And then ask yourself if that verb has to be there…because it doesn’t. Then, the next time you feel an emotion, remember…no verb is required beyond simply feeling the emotion. That emotion will pass and chances are you’ll have less regrets about your behavior.