What are emotions?
Your emotions reflect your inner state and signal where you are in the moment. They aren’t fearful monsters to be shut out, however, this is how they are sometimes viewed. Children aren’t taught how to manage them in school or at home, even though mismanaged feelings lead to bigger problems than not knowing algebra. Luckily, it’s never too late to learn about them.
Just as physical pain signals there’s something wrong in your body that needs dealing with, negative emotions are signs something needs attention in your life. Pain, mental or physical, is uncomfortable or worse, but has a positive purpose; it lets you know something’s amiss. Additionally, the longer you ignore and deny, putting up with pain, the greater it becomes, which is why it needs to be recognized in a timely fashion.
Emotions, shoved down to the pit of your stomach, or hidden under piles of debris in your mind, grow to be seen. When you continue to deny them, they have a habit of popping out explosively just when you would prefer them under lock and key. At the same time, once squashed, mentally sat on, they fester and result in a lack of well-being. Let them out, on the other hand, when they first appear as mild discomfort, and they have no need to increase in size or shout loudly because they’ve done their job.
You’d think noticing your emotional state would be the least of your problems, as they are obvious, yet, this isn’t always true. Mostly, when emotions are clear in all their glory, they have already expanded. Noticing them requires you are self-aware, recognizing what feels good or bad in the moment, not just in a hazy way, but with full consciousness. A twinge in your stomach as a friend waves good-bye, leaving to live in another town, a crick in your neck as you listen to a colleague moaning about her life, or a sinking feeling during a difficult conversation, are just a few ways your body may work with your mind to display emotions rising.
When you recognize your emotions in real time, you have the chance to see where they come from and be authentic. You can tell your friend how much you’ll miss her, tell your colleague you prefer uplifting conversations, and speak about your discomfort, managing it before it increases. Additionally, noticing your emotional state as it occurs means you can consciously begin to play with it, seeing your feelings as energy that can slide along a scale. You might imagine where you are emotionally, as though looking at the scale in your mind, and choose ways of moving in the direction you prefer. Leave your emotions where they are, though, carrying on like they aren’t there, and they’ll have no choice but to bang more loudly in your system, or stagnate, waiting to leak out when the dam is full.
Emotions, once seen as a measure of what’s happening in the present, help you live in an authentic way, dealing with unease before it turns into an issue. Learning to recognize them and manage the energy you produce with your mind provides balance and harmony.