What happens when you experience challenging emotions?
I am specifically referring to emotions that are typically labeled as “bad” or “negative”. You know, the ones that we are told we should not have in the first place.
I suspect that at least once in your life you experienced a moment when you witnessed a friend or a family member feeling angry about something or someone, and you sincerely advised them: Don’t get upset. Don’t cry. It’s not worth it! Or something along these lines. Or perhaps you were the one given this advice.
After all, it doesn’t make sense to be angry over something that 1. happened already, 2. it’s not our fault, and/or 3. we cannot control. Correct? I believe it’s wrong. While it may be logical not to have to worry about something, it is not logical at all to pretend that something is not happening already inside us.
A few words on anger
Anger, for instance, is one of the emotions that is often repressed because for many it is not considered acceptable or appropriate, and many people do not know how to work with it. Not showing anger used to be (and for some still is ) a sign of maturity, self-control, or good manners.
The fact remains is that our emotional energy is real even if we say to ourselves that feeling the anger or sadness or frustration “doesn’t make sense”.
The bottom line is that we cannot rationalize emotions.
Why? It’s like we want to reason with the rain to stop falling because there is no point. The only issue is that it’s already falling. So what do we build on every new house? A gutter system. This allows the accumulated water to flow into the ground and not crack the foundation or erode the topsoil, leaving the foundation vulnerable. If we apply the rain analogy to our emotions, allowing our emotions to pool and stagnate can crack the foundation of our well-being.
Dr. Gabor Mate, a well respected Canadian physician with expertise in addiction, stress, and childhood trauma, said in his Healing Force Within article:
“The observation that the inefficient processing of emotions predisposes to illness of all kinds has been noted by many clinicians in the past. It has been the subject of much research, all of it published in mainstream medical and psychological journals. In several studies in a number of different countries psychologists interviewing thousands of patients have been able to predict with overwhelming certainty who would and who would not develop cancer based simply on the degree to which an individual suppressed their feeling and expression of anger.”
Do not underestimate the power of your emotions
While eating healthy food and exercising are no doubt important to our health, do not underestimate the power of your emotions. One of the first steps on this journey is being able to track the physical sensations in our body, also referred to as interoception. This is a simple practice that we can all do.
Emotional suppression or even emotional shutdown can be a pattern carried from our childhood. Self-awareness is the starting point for making changes and so is investing in education on emotional literacy.
A healthy relationship with our own emotions and the emotions of others is the key to our resilience and our ability to thrive; in life and in our business.
Want to learn more? Contact me.