Emotions, the one that nobody likes to talk about. Have you wondered why you don’t want or can’t express your emotions? Is it because you don’t really know how? Or is it that you refuse to allow yourself to just feel or maybe even have trouble identifying what you are feeling and why? Do you even allow yourself to really feel? If you answered yes at least one time, you are not alone. Emotions are big and are often misunderstood. Mostly, emotions that are not fully understood and not felt or acknowledged, are likely to be misinterpreted and miscommunicated. How can you talk about something you don’t know much about?
First, let’s acknowledge that emotions do not have a very good reputation because society, various cultures, and family systems made it normal to view emotions as this uncontrollable giant that has no meaning or effect. Emotions are also viewed as weaknesses in some cases. However, in reality, emotions are highly valuable. Why? Because emotions are important parts of you that allows you to be human—the unique, special kind of person. Emotions make you who you are—different from the rest. With that being said, emotions reveal different parts of you. Here are some insights to help with a little get-to-know-me reflections and a refreshing, beneficial way to view emotions:
- Reactions: Take a moment to think about a time when something happened and you reacted because you felt some type of way. Maybe it caused a lot of anger and pain. Or maybe it’s the things you say to yourself that are not so nice. Reactions are your “default” thinking and behaviors that you learned from your upbringing, environment, and culture. Your reactions continue to happen because you have been on autopilot, functioning on how you were programmed by your environment. Whatever you were exposed to in the earlier stages of human development is what became your norm. So, start asking yourself:
- What did my parents teach me about communication?
- What did I learn about emotions?
- What did my life experiences teach me about confidence, family, roles, conflict resolution, and values?
As you begin to get to know more parts of yourself and understand why the way you are, the next question is:
- Are my learned ways beneficial or harmful to my life and my relationships? What do I want to change?
- Triggers: Triggers are a reminder of past trauma. Triggers come out in different ways:
- Triggers come out in anger.
- Triggers come out in panic attacks.
- Triggers come out in isolation.
- Triggers sometimes turn out into addiction.
- Triggers come big and fast, so it makes sense to not want to even find out what it’s all about.
It’s easier to distract ourselves and not even bother feeling it or understanding it. You can probably make logical reasons in your head but still could have a hard time applying what you know when you are met with a person or situation that takes you back to something, somewhere unpleasant. That’s okay. Triggers are parts of you that have been wounded.
Visualize an arm that’s been cut off from your body. The pain would be unbearable and the healing process will take a long time. The arm will never come back. As you continue to heal, you find ways to move forward with your life and make adjustments to be able to function with just one arm. The wound heals but the skin is thin so it can accidentally be rubbed or poked or irritated by anything random.
Triggers are your wounds. Your wounds are sometimes poked by something or someone and of course it hurts. But learning to identify your triggers can help you understand your emotions and your reason.
- Anger: Anger is often misunderstood and is likely viewed as bad behavior. Some people are afraid of anger and some don’t have control of their anger. It is normal to feel angry but acting in anger usually results in something a person has to apologize for later. Imagine an iceberg:
The tip of the iceberg is the one that everyone sees because it’s surface level. However, there is usually a bigger piece of the iceberg that sits beneath the water. The part of the iceberg no one sees is detrimental.
Same with anger. Anger is detrimental when uncontrolled and misunderstood. Anger is the tip of the iceberg. Everyone is likely to see anger in a person. What’s beneath anger is pain, possibly because of an unmet need or unmet expectations or maybe something that reminds you of something or someone that has hurt you. Nobody really sees pain unless the person discloses it to someone. However, to identify pain, one must first allow himself/herself to feel pain. It is too often that someone acts as if they were not hurt. Well, that may have something to do with why someone cannot heal or move forward. How can someone heal when they haven’t acknowledged that they were hurt and why it hurt.
Anger has the power to reveal your values and expectations and the reasons behind them. It is normal to feel angry and not know why at times; that is called being human. So, the next time anger comes up:
- Challenge yourself to pause. Pause instead of reacting. Pause and regulate your emotions.
- Once emotions are more balanced, take time to reflect on what happened, and why it made you angry.
It doesn’t matter what your reason is, what matters is that you understand your reason. Your reasons are valid. Your emotions are valid.
Emotions can be scary when it comes so sudden and it’s hard to identify or understand. Emotions are often big and scary because it is a human tendency to fear the unknown. To challenge the unknown in emotions is to allow feelings to surface but also looking beneath surface level. Emotions are powerful when identified, accepted, and understood because it reveals so much about a person’s story, values, and needs. So, the next time you feel something, remind yourself that the particular emotion can lead to something about you that helps you understand yourself a little better.