RLS #2: Emotions and Feelings

RLS #2: Emotions and Feelings

We previously talked about Real Life Skill #1 (Get head (and heart) in line with knowing life is messy — for everyone) and applying it in our day-to-day. Today, let’s talk about another real life skill.

Real Life Skill #2: Experience your emotions and direct your feelings. Your emotions and feelings (and what you do with them) will be your greatest asset or biggest liability.

We all have emotions and feelings. They are part of being human. Examples: joy, fear, anger, resentment, sadness, disgust. They are part of the human experience.

While sometimes used interchangeably (I have many times), I appreciated the distinction between emotions and feelings that I heard in an interview with Marie Forleo and Brendon Burchard. Paraphrasing, emotions are instinctive, something that comes up in/through the body that we feel, such as a wave of sadness popping up during a movie (and a definition from Google: “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others”), whereas feelings are interpretations of our emotions and the situation, and can be more readily influenced by us (our head and thoughts play a bigger role in feelings, influencing our physiological state).

We all experience emotions and feelings. While we may not have as much control over what emotions come up, we can have a great deal of control over how we feel. And this is key: we can learn to deal with and direct our feelings. Otherwise, our feelings will deal with and direct us.

Life tends to feel much better and go more smoothly when we let ourselves experience the emotions that are coming up (stuffing them down ultimately makes things messier), and then decide how we want to feel, directing our actions accordingly.

While we may hear varying stories about good/bad and positive/negative emotions and feelings, especially during our formative childhood years, emotions and feelings are simply pieces of information about ourselves and a situation we’re experiencing. If we consider them as a source of guidance, they are like our own personal GPS. If we learn to hear and tap into this GPS system, it can help us make more effective decisions and choices (and waste less emotional and cognitive resources along the way). However, if we don’t listen and try to ignore the guidance, pushing down emotions and/or reacting blindly to our feelings, we’ll be in for a rougher ride (especially as we can’t turn off emotions and feelings!).

Real Life Skill #2: Experience your emotions and direct your feelings. Your emotions and feelings (and what you do with them) will be your greatest asset or biggest liability.

In an upcoming post, we’ll look at applying this skill in daily life.

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