Riiiip! I don’t think there’s a more satisfying sound than weeds being ripped from the ground by their roots. I’ve been doing a lot of weed pulling lately, thanks to this rainy summer (more on that here).
Last night I was so grateful for the sense of sound so I could hear yet more crabgrass gave in to my pull. I remembered how necessary are our physical senses and emotional senses (our feelings). Think about it: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. They give us feedback about the world. We need them and when asked which you’d give up, it’s hard to say.
Well, our feelings, also give us feedback about the world but we often want to suppress those feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones. We might need to learn to manage them better, but we sure do need them. Here’s why:
We need this feeling to warn us when there’s danger. I like to say healthy fear keeps me from walking off the roof of the house; unhealth fear would keep me from walking out the door.
Guilt tells us when we’ve done something wrong and the memory of guilt feelings keeps us from repeating the behavior. Sometimes, though, we overidentify with the guilt and begin to feel shame about ourselves, not our actions. Sometimes we feel guilty about things for which we are not responsible. These are unhealthy for us and the people around us.
Sadness tells us when we’ve lost something important, be it a loved one, a relationship, a job, or a dream. We should honor this feeling and permit ourselves to feel the loss and recover. Tears are a signal to our tribe that we need comfort. Tears also trigger a release of endorphins in the brain and that’s why we feel so much better after we let ourselves have a good cry. For more on the chemistry of tears, look here.
Anger tells us a boundary is violated. We all know the destructive nature of angry feelings but there is a good side to anger when an angry person is propelled into action to right a wrong. I worked in a domestic violence shelter. I witnessed the results of unhealthy anger everywhere. But I also witnessed those victims of abuse transforming their anger into determination and saying “No more!” and making healthy changes for themselves and their children.
Next time you notice a feeling you don’t like, ask yourself, what’s it trying to tell me? What can I learn from it? How can I manage it better? It will transform your life.