Feelings Are Good: How Understanding Emotions Helps You Understand Yourself
How many times do you respond with I’m good or I’m fine when someone asks how you’re feeling that day? Chances are, you do it without realizing it! That’s because many of us never learned how to identify or express our emotions. Instead, you learned how to suppress, intellectualize, downplay, or attempt to escape emotion altogether.
Unfortunately, emotions often get a bad rep. Most people don’t want the feels. That’s because it’s painful to feel sad or scared or guilty. However, all emotions can be beneficial, and all emotions are necessary for your well-being.
Understanding emotions is the foundation for optimal mental health. When you learn how to understand your emotions, you connect better to yourself, your loved ones, and the world around you.
Emotions Alert You Of Danger
If a hot stove didn’t hurt, you wouldn’t have any reason to avoid touching it. Likewise, if a dangerous situation didn’t make you feel scared or skeptical, the human species probably wouldn’t adapt and survive as well as it does.
Emotions do an excellent job of alerting us of dangerous or threatening situations. They are protective instincts that can stimulate our fight-or-flight instincts. For example, when you feel scared, you are more likely to pay attention, avoid a particular situation, or take safety precautions. If you didn’t have that emotion of fear, you might jeopardize your sense of security.
All humans inherently value feeling safe in this world. While we all experience varying degrees of anxiety, surges in this emotion often indicate that you’re feeling threatened or insecure. Checking into that emotion, addressing it, and taking action can help you restore a sense of confidence and safety.
Emotions Tell You When You Need A Break
Stress is inevitable, but it’s not a random emotion. When you feel stressed, it’s a sign that your mind and body are in overdrive. Likewise, stress can be a combination of a variety of emotions like anxiety, fatigue, sadness, and guilt.
When it feels like you are flooded with emotion, this sensation should be a signal that it’s time to assess, regroup, and recharge. While many people try to power through their emotions, healthy people understand that it’s okay to recognize your limits and adjust your expectations. Furthermore, the process of “powering through” often creates more problems associated with increased stress and unhealthy coping skills.
Emotions Create Connection
We all love the feeling of love. Spending time with loved ones can produce intense emotions that promote intimacy and closeness. The positive emotions you feel in relation towards other people- empathy, concern, happiness, curiosity, and vulnerability- are the glue of meaningful relationships.
Without these emotions, you wouldn’t have any genuine sense of connection to others. Relationships would be purely transactional, and dating would be much simpler! You’d be able to create a checklist of criteria that you desire in a mate, and you wouldn’t have to concern yourself with whether or not things “felt” right.
As you know, you have to “feel” a connection with another person. This sensation is often visceral, and it can be hard to put into words. Moreover, sharing emotions with loved ones can feel frightening. It’s reasonable to worry about how another person might perceive you. However, the strongest relationships are the ones with the most honesty and the most humility- and both of those traits require emotional attunement.
Emotions Can Encourage You To Take Action
Emotions influence everything from how you select your career to how you spend your discretionary income. It’s no surprise that the entire marketing industry is designed to appeal and even manipulate your emotions. Companies want to build your hype and encourage you to purchase their service or product.
Although logic has its role in decision-making, it’s the emotion that represents the undertone for nearly all choices you make. For example, you might know you’re supposed to wear sunscreen. Still, it might require an emotion, like the fear associated with experiencing a health scare or the anger with seeing premature sun damage, to encourage you to actually do it. You might not know who to vote for in the upcoming election, but a compelling campaign that makes you feel inspired or passionate can lead you to a particular candidate.
Understanding Your Emotions Through Psychotherapy
Understanding emotions isn’t always a straightforward process. It can be very challenging to distinguish and cope with intense emotions, especially if you’re struggling with a serious issue like trauma, mental illness, or substance use.
Therapy can help strengthen your emotional awareness. It can also help you learn how to accept emotions without acting inappropriately or impulsively. At Willow Counseling, we are here to help you learn more about yourself, your emotions, and your mental health. We are here to help you feel better about the life you’re living.
Are you interested in learning more about how we can help you? Contact us today to get started.
Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN
Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.