4 Keys to Emotional Health
1st Key: Authentic emotion is spontaneous
Happiness, joy, fear, anger, sadness, grief, and jealously are humanity’s seven basic emotions. Emotions are a spontaneous physical response to our situations, the environment, and people. Many of us learn to edit our emotions as we grow up, but the only helpful and healthy emotional response is a spontaneous one.
Our emotions are a reaction to our perception and judgment of whatever we experience. Our unedited emotional responses tell us the truth about our inner landscape; emotions cannot lie because they don’t reason, they just are.
2nd Key: Be able to identify your emotions
Feelings are more complicated than emotions because feelings involve some interpretation on our part. Emotions need no interpretation. People need the skill to recognize basic emotions to navigate life effectively. Happiness, joy, fear, anger, sadness, grief, and jealously are distinctive physical sensations and with practice are easy to label.
If you have “stuffed” one (or more) emotions most of your life, you may unconsciously stop that emotion from arising before it registers in your conscious mind. The problem with blocking one emotion is that it gums up your entire emotional works, and might have prevented you from learning the emotional language.
3rd Key: Acknowledge and accept your emotions
Because emotions are meaningless if not spontaneous, it is important to accept them even if you think they are silly or illogical. Emotions are not supposed to be logical, and they are never silly since they honestly reflect our internal landscape. We need to acknowledge and accept any emotion, at least to ourselves. Why?
We understand one another through words, but we connect with each other emotionally. If you have ever spoken with someone whose words were flat or monotone, you will know this is true. It is impossible to communicate effectively if there is too much or too little emotional punch to your words.
Anyone who wishes to be authentic, or express themselves authentically, must accept their emotions (and feelings) as they are. Whether you talk about them with others is a choice.
4th Key: Express them effectively
Many conversations go awry because people cannot, or will not, talk about how they feel. There are a couple good reasons why this is true.
First, emotions are a universal language. If you say, “I am sad,” every human being will know what that means and how it feels. Second, emotion (and feeling) allows us to empathize with others, or put ourselves in another's sandals.
To illustrate, saying, “Shut up,” to someone because they angered you will likely start an argument. However, if you say, “What you just said really angered me because. . ,” it is possible the other person will address the anger either by clarifying what they said, or by apologizing. They understand since they know what anger is and have had the experience of being angered.
When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion. ~ Dale Carnegie
If you have difficulty expressing emotions, or if you usually over express them, consider seeing a therapist. Expressing your emotions effectively will change your life for the better.