Every situation has a silver lining – discover a mindset that heals and enlightens.
August 25, 2021 · 7 min read
“We know too much and feel too little. At least, we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life springs.” – Bertrand Russell
Have you ever been confused on how you feel? Certainly, most of us were concerned at least once.
For me, there were times when I felt a sudden burst of emotions which are hard to explain. Usually, those emotions come from unusual situations. We encounter these situations very rarely, sometimes even once or only a few times in a lifetime.
Undoubtedly, some of us can get confused even from daily situations. This happens because we haven’t spent enough time on analyzing them. Feelings and emotions are a complex, but vital part of our lives. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are.
Emotions identify us and gives us a certain character. This is one of the most important inseparable and integral part of character traits which we possess.
Emotions are part of our identity which come from neurophysiological changes, which include our behavior, feelings, thoughts. Emotions don’t have one scientifically proven definition because this character trait is very complex and, in some cases, very subjective.
The purpose of emotions is to identify our responses to environmental challenges. These challenges might even be something that we encounter everyday – cooking, getting up from bed, driving a car, going to classes and similar.
By identifying how we feel, we can pivot these emotions to our advantage. For example, if we feel motivated, then we can do something that we normally wouldn’t do and are trying to avoid.
A prime example is exercising. On some days we feel sluggish and exhausted, but if we watch a motivational video or read a motivational quote or whatever else, we feel encouraged to do some exercising for our own good.
On the other hand, if we can identify that we feel depressed, stressed or anxious, we can also take it to our advantage. Such negative emotions impact our well-being in a bad way, therefore it’s important to get rid of these feelings as fast as possible.
Consequently, if we identify that we feel some form of anxiety, we can try to mitigate or completely discard this feeling by taking appropriate actions. There are a few ways to do it and it varies from person to person what is most effective. Personally, I’d go to do some physical work: mow the lawn, fix a car, do household chores, or even go to a shopping center.
1. Expand your emotional vocabulary.
2. Stop for a second and think what you feel.
3. Express your emotions on a piece of paper.
4. Identify the emotions.
It’s important to get to know emotions which you might feel right now or at other any time.
In 2017 researchers have found that there are 27 categories of basic emotion.
Before this research it was thought that there are only 6 basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise which were identified by psychologist Paul Ekman.
However, this new research now lets to categorize emotions more precisely and accurately. It’s not as abstract as it used to be before and let’s to understand how to feel.
Every emotion can be categorized even further depending on what kind of emotion it is, according to David L. Robinson research.
By identifying what kind of emotion you feel, you can then identify what kind of positive or negative emotion it is.
Naturally, it’s hard to identify the emotion at first. However, by understanding the causes behind why you can’t feel emotions or you can’t understand how others feel, you will experience a new enlightenment on this complex topic.
At first it might be very weird to analyze your feelings and pay attention to them. You will have to try to incorporate the comprehension of your feelings into your daily routine. However, after a while it will become very clear on how you and others feel in a certain way.
The benefits of understanding feelings. The feelings that you will start to understand soon enough will become sharper. In fact, you will start feeling both negative and positive feelings way better and with more comprehension. The happiness and joy will become more intense and fulfilling. Comprehending the causes of sadness will become weirdly satisfying and you will have a better control of your emotions.
Generally, it is important to let out your feelings instead of keeping them inside. Share those feelings with everyone. If you keep the feelings like I did inside myself, not only you will appear to be lifeless, but also these feelings will start to tear you apart from the inside.
Not only that, but some people find it hard to express their thoughts and emotions correctly to other people. Because of the lack of emotional expression, other people might be left confused if whether you are happy receiving a gift or not, whether you are joking or being serious when telling a joke, are you frightened by one or another situation, etc.
Therefore, lets dig into the reasons why you can’t understand feelings.
If you try very hard to ignore them, you lose sense on how to feel emotions. When you lack the experience on emotions, you find it hard to identify them. Suppressing your emotions in the long-term becomes a natural habit.
After getting into a perpetual cycle of not showing your emotions, you feel like a robot. Depending on the situation, your voice tone might be monotonic. If a horrible accident happened to your acquaintances, your initial response might be: “How did this happen? What car did they drive? What time of the day was it?”.
“What you resist persists.” – Carl Jung
Instead of being rational about events, try to use emotional replies. Let people know that: “how sad this accident is. I hope everyone is okay and healthy”.
When you think too technical, emotions become not necessary. You are always asking yourself questions instead of being sensitive and compassionate. You forget how to feel in certain moments.
Having a curious mind is a great trait to have, but sometimes it gets in the way of emotions. You have to balance it out and prioritize emotions first. After showing emotional interest, only then show technical interest.
Humans by nature are social and were always interested into the emotions. Because of the never-ending new inventions of technologies, we have to keep the pace and sacrifice our prime communication based on emotions.
Work, home, eat, sleep, repeat.
We fall into world of routine and everything becomes standard and not engaging. We lose interest in environment and our feelings become cold.
Have you ever caught yourself being excited for work which you’ve been doing already for a number of years? I really doubt so, especially if you are an employee instead of an employer.
You get the instructions from customers or your manager to do a certain, same repetitive work which you’ve already had numerous of times. You turn autopilot and keep doing the job like you’ve always been doing. Not very exciting, is it?
The point is, that you have to change your environment. If you are sick to the bones of your workplace – then change it if you have an opportunity. If you’ve been going out to the same place every weekend, change the destination. If you’ve been always meeting with friends only to have a drink, change the routine and go for a hiking trip, kayaking or something else.
Changes bring excitement, even though you might be a little bit afraid because you are comfortable in your place. Step out of the habit of routines to start feeling more emotions.
Did your long-lasting relationship end? Did your close family member pass away? Did you lose your job?
Some terrifying events might be so shocking, that you are simply in a big disbelief of what happened. It’s hard to comprehend for your mind the information and perceive that it’s true. All you can feel is that your limbs have gone numb.
It is no surprise that after these events people change. You might think that in order to protect yourself, you should ignore the emotions and live only in black and white world, where there are no different colors. In other words, you don’t embrace any changes in your life anymore.
The truth is, my beloved dog has passed away half a year ago. It was a shocking moment for me. We’ve been together through so many experiences for 13 years. I was in a big disbelief of what happened. I was in agony and big pain for 2 weeks straight. Every time I came back home from work the house was empty.
You only get one life, so you might as well feel all the feelings. - Greta Gerwig
It felt like it was empty. No one greeted me and I didn’t go for a walk straight after work anymore. I was in a big grief that I didn’t give my best friend enough attention which he deserved. Everybody told me that I loved him a lot, but I always blamed myself.
Well, the truth of this story is that I’ve experienced a lot of feelings and emotions. That’s how it’s supposed to feel.
However, after I broke up with my girlfriend 5 years ago, I felt nothing. I knew it was wrong. From that moment I have been analyzing my emotions and now I feel like a happy and full of life person.
You might be counter arguing yourself and planting seeds of confusion within yourself. With this emotional state you are left with even more uncertainty.
For an instance, because of your natural sensitivity, you might care about some unnecessary things too much. Because of that, you might get mad at yourself for being like that.
After a while you may think that it’s actually fine to feel this way, because you are unique in your own way. However, then a cloud of doubt might go over your mind and question yourself if that’s actually valid way to feel.
In other words, you are your own biggest self-critic and don’t let yourself feel the way you think is natural for you. This could be also occurring due to being too self-conscious and aware.
This can lead to circumstances when it becomes too obsessive and takes control of your life. As a result, you lose self-esteem, self-respect, you become emotionally unstable and you can impact other people lives in a negative way.
Just as previously mentioned, analyze yourself. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start writing questions:
“What makes me feel this way?”, “Have I had a long and bad day?” “Do I feel neglected and nobody cares about me?”, “Am I just frustrated about something?”
Try to write down your emotions and understand what you actually feel. This is very important for you to do.
Have a good thought and examine your feelings and ask yourself again “How do I feel and why?”.
Take a look at this cognitive triangle. It shows that our thoughts, feelings and behavior is linked together very closely. For example, our feelings are correlated to our behavior and thoughts. If we feel energetic and happy, we might go for a run (behavior) and think what an amazing day it is to do such an activity (thoughts).
As you can see, whatever we do, other two parameters change accordingly. So, in order to feel a certain way that we want (or don’t want), some other parameter has to change. This is the basis of methodology that psychologists Alber Ellis and Aaron Beck have found out.
Being mindful of this methodology brings positive changes into our lives. We can practice new behavior, new thoughts or new feelings by alternating our other two variables.
The internal language that we use affects our personality and behavior at certain moments. If we our emotional vocabulary consists of anger, frustration, happiness and gratitude, we have no other options as to identify our feelings in those aforementioned 4 words.
However, if you your emotional vocabulary is very vibrant and wide, then you will certainly be able to shift your angriness to irritation. You can shift from “giving up” state to “irritation” state. Then you’d simply take a break on what you are doing and come back to continue your work after you have calmed down.
Taking ownership of your feelings is so vital to getting better. - Lili Reinhart
Likewise, if you are “angry”, then you would be very unhappy and it can lead to negative physical behavior, like yelling, smashing things around and something similar. If you change your “angry” state to “frustrated”, then you’d feel way better, because frustration is linked to something that can be solved sooner or later. It correlates to a milder condition of “angriness”.
Therefore, be very mindful of how you choose to feel, because it impact your overall well-being, thoughts and behavior.
Feelings are not easy to understand. In fact, they are complex and it takes time to fully understand how you are feeling.
Nevertheless, by understanding your root cause of confusion about feelings and by taking a journal and by trying to write your feelings and overall situation down, you can ease your frustration.
The cognitive triangle which is explained above, is very important also. Your thoughts, feelings and behavior are closely linked.
Finally, you have to expand your emotional vocabulary. Power of words are very detrimental on how you feel. You can pivot a super bad situation to a mildly-bad situation by using the right vocabulary.
We all are on a journey to find ourselves. However, we can achieve our goals by applying the right tools much faster than noodling around and hoping that everything solves out by itself.
You are worthy of knowing how you feel.