My lifelong quest to understand and work with emotions began when I was consumed with anger and couldn’t find answers to several questions, “what causes anger?” “What makes anger overwhelming and can I change it?” Lastly, “how do I get anger to stop running my life?”
Subsequently, I’ve discovered things about emotions that, even now, most people don’t know. Knowing them changes our relationship to our emotions and ourselves; they put us more in charge and allow us to develop emotional mastery. My new book, Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System, talks about these seven things and more.
Here Are 7 Things You Might Not Know About Emotions:
Emotions are neither good nor bad
People refer to, “good emotions” and “bad emotions.” Emotions are neither “good” nor “bad.” Saying so is like deciding that sunflowers are bad and roses are good. Sunflowers and roses just are what they are. We may prefer one over the other, but neither is bad nor good.
Anger is not “bad,” and love is not “good.” Since both of these emotions are real emotions, they possess both positive and negative qualities. Anger pushes us to take action. Is that bad? Love can stifle us if someone pushes it on us or is insincere. Is love good? Though we can use them in positive or negative ways, emotions are not inherently good or bad.
We create “negative emotions” by holding them inside
All emotions, when held inside, grow. They become negative when they grow in power as we hold onto them. Allowing anger to move through us doesn’t lead to explosiveness, but holding onto it can.
If you don’t want so-called, “negative emotions” in your life, just allow emotions (which are energy and need to move), to move through you. Then release them. Next time you notice you’re feeling rage, depression, or guilt, check in to see if they have become negative by not letting them move through you. Allow them to move through and release them; observe the difference!
Emotions can’t tell time
We’ve all experienced getting upset about something that happend today, only to start obsessing about something similar in our past. Your wife or husband says something hurtful; you remember when a parent or childhood friend said hurtful things. We go over those old events, thinking of what we should have done or said. Now, it’s likely too late, because those people have moved on, or died; yet we’re still focused on the pain.
Since emotions are energy, they vibrate. When we have an experience in our present that holds a similar or same vibrational-pattern to our past experiences, the past jumps to center stage. We usually feel even more upset. Emotions can’t tell time. They don’t know they belong in our past. They just gravitate to compatible vibrations and then grow as we focus upon them.
Attempting to control emotions makes them go “out of control”
How often have you said, “I tried so hard not to get angry but then the anger just exploded out of me. I can’t seem to control my anger?” Most people weren’t taught that our efforts to control or hold emotions inside is the very thing that leads to explosions.
Emotions held inside grow. If we don’t know this, we set ourselves up for a repeating cycle; explode with an emotion, then tuck it away, experience a short time of quiet, then explode with it again. We maintain this pattern until we realize that the very act of controlling or holding on to emotions causes them to build in power within us. Allowing the emotional energy to arise in us, move through us and letting it go, is what gives us dominion over emotions that may have dominated our lives.
Emotions are tools; gifts to help us navigate life
We’re all here to attend “school.” Earth is a place to learn and grow. Whoever planned this, sent us off with some tools for success. Not only did we get a persistent teacher (experience), and a beautiful campus (Earth), but we have emotions that accompany us when we’re born; staying on duty 24/7/365, for our entire lives.
Each emotion holds a message. “Come closer,” “take action,” “be careful,” etc. My book, “Emotions in Motion,” offers readers the message of twelve emotions. When we know their message, hear it and follow their suggestions, life works easily and smoothly. I call this emotional-mastery. Emotions move on easily once they’ve completed their job.
Emotions don’t belong to us and we don’t belong to them
How often do you say phrases like, “my anger,” “my guilt,” “my love,” or “my hurt?” Most of us do; we talk like we own emotions. We don’t. Emotions accompany experiences; they arise within us. Emotions are their own entity, which is why we can turn them loose. They’re just present to do a job, by calling attention to what we need to notice, do and supporting us to grow and evolve.
We also don’t belong to emotions. Anger, fear, hurt, or guilt don’t make us do anything unless we enable them. We learn ways to perceive and react to emotions; we don’t inherit them. Take heart, each person can decide the emotions we allow to arise within us.
Emotions are easy
A big misconception is that working with emotions is difficult; not so. Very young children can be taught to work with emotions quite effectively. Emotions seem difficult because we’ve been taught to do the very things with emotions that don’t work well. We’ve received erroneous information. “Count to 10,” (hold onto anger), “don’t cry,” (crying heals emotion), and “don’t let them see you upset,” (deny feelings). We’re taught to lie in saying, “I’m sorry,” or “I love you,” when we aren’t feeling it.
When we learn to truthfully accept and share emotions, know and heed their message and use their guidance before letting them go, it makes working with them easy.
Find great products and services for your well-being from members of The Wellness Universe!
Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.