Where Do My Emotions Come From?

The relationship between the events in your life and your feelings are going to be clouded if you have difficulty identifying what you are feeling. Naturally, there are times when you are unable to precisely name what you feel. Identifying your feelings may require you to take time to focus on yourself and your internal experience.

If you can accept the idea that each emotion exists for a reason, then you can find the value in every feeling. Finding this value may allow you to understand your emotions and express them in more adaptive ways. The expression of anger does not have to involve yelling or violence, sadness does not have to involve crying, fear does not have to involve hiding or avoiding. If you listen to your emotions, understand what your emotions mean, then you can validate them and their intensity will fade. But if you ignore what your emotions tell you, your feelings build up and may result in a display of destructive behavior. Emotions are part of your life and to deny them is to deny part of yourself.

Your feelings are related to both your mind and body. Yet, like so many of the concepts that guide your life, emotions are intangible. There is no one-way to define a feeling. There is no one event or object that you can point to, where everyone will have the exact same emotional response. Like, truth, justice, peace, comfort, hope; all these concepts like love and sorrow are subjective, left to be defined by the eye of the beholder. If you see someone crying you, there may be several ways of interpreting their behavior. Were they cutting onions? Did someone they know die? Are they in physical pain? Behavior is a poor determinate in understanding emotions.

If you find it difficult to notice or name what you or others are feeling, it may help to pay attention to the body. Most feelings are experienced in the body. For example, fear may show up as a knot in your stomach or a tightness in your throat. Our bodies are all different, so you will have to pay attention to your body and not just rely on others experiences. Emotions cause us physical discomfort in the form of headaches, muscle tension, nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, or an increased heartbeat just to name a few. These are ways our body communicates with us and lets us know that we are neglecting ourselves.

As a human, you rely on your senses to perceive and judge the world around you. Yet, your emotions dictate where you place your attention, what you choose to emphasize and how you find meaning from others’ behavior. Your body cannot see a feeling nor can it touch an emotion. Your mind cannot make sense out of a feeling. Feelings are not logical nor are they concrete. Yet, emotions are important because they are the intangible elements that drive your life.

These physiological and emotional processes are intertwined. Emotions are the relay stations between sensory input and thinking. Your emotions are like the warning lights or gauges in your car. Your car gauges tell you what is working or breaking down with the important parts of your engine. If the oil light comes on and you don’t address it, you can burn out the engine in your car. In a similar way, your emotions can tell you about aspects of your life that are important to you that need to be attended to. Some important inner value, expectation, goal, or belief may be threatened and you might not be aware of it at a conscious level. However, some inner part of you is aware of the problem and it speaks to you though your emotions. Therefore, to locate the cause of the problem, you need to follow your emotions.

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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