Emotions make us human, they are the key to who we are. Feared by many, rejected by so many others and non-existent by some more, emotions are life companions that help us find our way and get to know ourselves more.
Stress, anxiety, depression, anguish and discomfort with life, makes us distance ourselves from emotions, because when we have our mind full, we cannot feel our emotions … it is a matter of the space and mental energy that we have available.
Perhaps you have never considered what your attitude to emotions is. This is because you have learned to automatically respond to them. But not all of these answers are optimal and healthy for your mind and emotional world.
When we fear emotions…
When we feel emotions very intensely, such as when we feel anxiety, we are in mourning or we have to face a situation that scares us, we may fear that these emotions will appear. Because their presence prevents us from leading a “normal” life, without shocks.
And the more we fear the sudden onset of anxiety, sadness or fear, the more likely these emotions are to appear. And this happens because in our mind, we awaken those intense emotions, we bring them to life through our attention. Therefore, do not anticipate the arrival of that emotion and let it be as it is.
When we reject emotions…
This defense mechanism, we usually use it in the face of very intense emotions that produce unpleasant sensations. We have learned that we must reject what we do not like and what does not make us feel bad.
However, I propose something else … it may seem like a revolutionary idea, but it is very old. Instead of rejecting unpleasant emotions and situations, stay in them, observe them, feel them and unravel what really distresses you or you dislike. The emotion that makes us feel bad is only a sign of something that does not fit, it is a wake-up call for us to find out more about ourselves.
Remember that what we resist persists. Therefore, the more you reject an emotion, the more present it is in your life. Replace rejection with acceptance of what you feel … it does not mean that you like it, it just indicates that you are aware of what that emotion is like.
When we are emotionally anesthetized … Another possibility is to feel emotionally dull, that is, we no longer feel the emotions. This sign is experienced as something strange … because deep down we know that we have to feel emotions. This emotional anesthesia can arise for many reasons …
A whole life repressing emotions that are no longer expressed through affection, but that begin to emerge as somatizations in the body. An excess of content in the mind. Too many worries, thoughts and emotions, make us end up feeling nothing.
It is a relatively common symptom in anxiety disorders, depression, trauma or even grief. When we curiously enter our mind and begin to unload that mental space occupied by worries and thoughts, emotions return to their usual way of expression.
When we accept emotions… This is the ideal state, but it is not always possible. As you have already seen, there are thousands of reasons why we disconnect from emotions. However, I would tell you that the only way to a fulfilling life is acceptance.
Accepting an emotion does not mean that we like it, we simply accept how it is right now. And acceptance helps us to be curious and that curiosity is what allows us to know each other more and regulate what we feel.
As you will see, acceptance is not quick. It is a process in which we discover ourselves, where we begin to live from an attitude of openness and not of rejection. Acceptance is the only way to live in a balanced way.
Much of our mental confusion comes from a misinterpretation of the message of emotions. It has happened to me too and I have needed time to understand the messages of each emotion.
That is why I am going to share with you the motto of each emotion, so that you can finally understand what they want to tell you:
SADNESS = “I am moved by something.” Sadness points us to something that moves us. Perhaps it is a major loss for us, perhaps it is seeing someone else suffer, perhaps it arises from ourselves. The function of sadness is to isolate ourselves to give an outlet to this sadness and it also helps us to seek help and comfort from others.
FEAR = “Be careful, be cautious.” Fear tries to save us from a threat that can hurt us deeply or even be a threat to our survival. The function of fear is to keep us alive, that is why it makes us respond in different ways … fleeing, avoiding or freezing us. These answers have helped us survive for billions of years.
ANXIETY = “Be prepared and alert.” Anxiety helps us to remain alert to the possibility of a danger that has not completely disappeared. The emotion behind anxiety is fear. The function of anxiety is to anticipate what can go wrong in order to respond quickly and thus survive threats.
ANGER = “I’m going to defend myself and set limits.” Anger helps us defend ourselves from other people or situations that may hurt or offend us. The function of anger is to defend limits that we have created in our life. The key is to defend ourselves from calm and not from loss of contact with ourselves.
GUILT = “Be consistent with yourself, be genuine.” Guilt arises when we feel that we have behaved in a way that does not represent us. The function of guilt is not to repeat those behaviors that make us feel bad and that prevent us from being consistent with who we are. Replace guilt with responsibility and pay attention to how you want to be in the world.
SHAME = “Hide, no one sees you.” Shame arises from fear of showing ourselves as we are and the criticism that other people may make about us. The message of shame is that we hide to avoid criticism. Their role is to get to know us better, put comparisons aside and be who we are.
HOPE = “Everything is possible, trust”. Hope is an emotion that fills us with optimism about life. Its function is to make us trust ourselves and our own life to be who we really are and dare to overcome our fears. Hope helps us see the light in the shadows.