A sometimes dirty word in this world where being in control of emotion is the cultural default. Emotions serve as messengers and act as liaisons between our bodies and the environment.
Think of the times that you have felt something before you could express it in analytic words.
Emotions are the energy before the matter. They serve as direct translators to our nervous systems and hormonal bodies. They protect us and keep us safe in times when threats and traumas from the environment happen so quickly that our rational mind can’t process and react fast enough.
And yet, to be perceived as a highly emotional person– and more specifically a highly emotional woman— is still somehow judged in our society, instead of praised.
Emotional intelligence is a skill which can be studied and learned just like analytic wisdom. And in many cases, a keen emotional intelligence is what we admire in our friends and family.
Individuals who have taken the time to learn their own emotional landscape are typically powerhouses of clarity. They act fluidly and with confidence, even in the most stressful of situations.
What is it within each of us that keeps us from expressing with honesty our emotional experience? How can we learn to become acquainted with the most difficult feelings, so that we might better understand the messages from our deepest emotive depths and recognize these emotions as they drift into our daily lives?
Primary emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and joy are sometimes packaged within actionable emotions like hate, anger, jealousy and envy. These actionable emotions are often more acceptable in the workplace or social scape, and to some degree are less intimate than the primary emotions which you might share with loved ones.
But, at what point did we decide that some emotions are acceptable and others are not? The clear danger in a world that does not value emotional honesty is the suppression of the individual experience into a more culturally acceptable form.
This “emotional armament” as the psychoanalyst, Wilhelm Reich called it, can invalidate an individual and sometimes cause depression, anxiety and even physical illness. Invalidating an individual’s emotional experience in society is essentially the same as not acknowledging our own emotional experience. It’s likely that we are often angry at the people who emotionally “lash out” because we are not allowed to ourselves. The same can be said of hate, which for many people feels protective of deeper primary emotions like fear and sadness.
Self reflection and personal analysis can save us from years of struggle in relationships with others and to ourselves. Each of our personal blueprints is unique and our movements in the world follow circuitous routes with unknown outcomes. If we allow what we express emotionally to be determined by someone other than ourselves, we lose one of our greatest allies along the unknown path.
In The Wisdom of Insecurity, Alan Watts states, “that to have running water you must first let go of it and let it run. The same is true of life and the universe.” Emotional intelligence requires expression and flow. If you try too hard to lock it down and censor your emotions, you risk disconnecting from the meteorologist within. When you embrace all of the emotions, you contain a constant barometer, steadfastly pointing the way.
Originally published in The Fullest