Feelings can be thought of as our interpretation of what we are sensing in the world around us. Two people can experience the same event and assign two very different feelings to the sensations they received. Therefore, feelings are what happens when our brain assigns meaning or significance to what is being sensed. Feelings, in and of themselves, are not inherently good or bad. It’s what we do with them that can cause us to feel good or bad.
Let’s take anger for example. Feeling angry is not necessarily a bad thing. What matters is what we do with that anger. All feelings, including anger, can be a very useful tool to understand and learn about yourself. If you are feeling angry, there is a reason as to why you are angry that is probably worth investigating. When we acknowledge that we are feeling angry and then set about understanding why we are angry, anger becomes a positive emotion. It is pointing you towards something about yourself that could benefit from your attention.
To illustrate my point, consider the following scenario. You are feeling angry at someone because they weren’t taking your advice. The reason for that anger is not because they are a fool and deserve to be in the situation they are in (given that you gave them a perfectly good solution and they didn’t do it). The reason for your anger may be because you are not being respectful of the free will of others to choose for themselves, even when (according to you) those choices are not good ones. Or you may be angry because you are trying to control that which is out of your control. Your anger then becomes an opportunity for you to explore why you feel the need to be in control, or why you feel the right to override the free will of others to choose for themselves.
However, for some, anger is an uncomfortable emotion that they do not wish to acknowledge. Some deal with it by pushing it down and refusing to acknowledge its presence in the first place. Others handle it by flinging it outwards in every direction, hoping to find a willing target. Neither of these scenarios plays out well. Suppressed emotions never go away. They are either stored in our body, eventually manifesting as a physical complaint (such as high blood pressure), or the suppressed anger builds up until a seemingly minor trigger results in an eruption of all that stored anger. You know, those reactions that are way over the top. On the other hand, when we project our anger outwardly to those around us it can be very damaging to our relationships, including our relationship with ourself. Let’s face it, nobody feels very good about themselves when they behave in this way.
So, rather than rejecting or projecting our feelings, a healthier approach is to welcome them and be grateful for the guidance they provide. Acknowledge their presence and then set about understanding why you are feeling that way. Get to know yourself better and in doing so, you may just find a new best friend!