Why Bother With Your Emotions?
For the longest time, I thought sad, mad, and glad were the only emotions I had, with mad as the dominant one. But recently, as I went through my day I perceived a smorgasbord of feelings; energetic, tired, confused, impatient, delighted, relaxed, sad, empathetic, angry, hopeful, curious, calm, competitive, anxious, playful, humored, concerned, cautious, hurried and worried.
What I noted was that I have become more emotionally intelligent than I used to be. And for this I am grateful.
Growing Your Emotional Intelligence
I did not grow up in an emotionally intelligent household. I was never taught to be intuitive about my emotions, or why they were important. Instead, I grew up around adults who displayed their anger by yelling, stomping their feet, and hurling objects through the air. Yet, no one ever spoke about their anger. No one ever mentioned the energy that anger produced inside of them. No one mentioned that turning anger inward led to depression. No one said anything.
Sadness, like anger, was also present in my family, but was not a topic that anybody discussed. So, whenever I felt sad, I didn’t know what to do with the sadness I felt. I just knew I did not like the feeling and tried hard to ignore it. Happiness, lightheartedness and gladness were welcomed by everyone, but other feelings were ignored. By the time I left home I’d come to the conclusion that it was better to deny my emotions than to acknowledge that they existed.
But, emotions are not something that can be ignored. We were born with them. They are natural and come and go throughout the day. And, I’ve learned that they tell me something about myself.
Learning to listen to what I feel is a process. But the process started with listening. When I’d get angry, I noted who or what made me angry. When I was sad, I paid attention to what made me sad. Being aware of how I felt when I felt it, was the first step.
The next step was more painful; watching myself respond. When I’m angry, my anger, like a surge of power, can be harmful. When I am sad I resort to pouting like a ten-year-old and alienate myself. When I am worried, I am preoccupied, unfocused and unproductive. But knowing what I am like in response to an emotion, liberates me. I don’t have to resort to that behavior. Instead, I can do something different and doing something different makes all the difference, it makes me intelligent.
But being more aware of how I feel isn’t just about knowing myself better, it also makes me a little more savvy about the feelings of others. For instance, I know when one of my students is angry, when my husband is hurting or when a friend is lonely. Acknowledging the feelings of others help them become more intelligent about their emotions too.
So why bother with our emotions? Without a frontal lobotomy we have to do something with them. If we are willing to learn from them, they are willing to teach us something.