How would you feel if you were aware of your emotions and reasons for their existence all of the time? What if this knowledge could lead to building healthy and strong relationships whilst maintaining good boundaries? What could you accomplish? Can you imagine what your life might be like?
Our emotions are a wonderful resource filled with information that lets us get to know ourselves better. We often regard emotions as either positive or negative. Good or bad. What if we stopped doing that and regarded emotions as part of who we are? They provide valuable information that teaches us more about ourselves and how to live fulfilling lives with healthy and strong relationships. According to Karla McLaren in her book, The Language of Emotions, there are no bad or negative emotions, not even jealousy, anger or hatred. All of these emotions provide us with a minefield of information. They can teach us so much about who we are and what we can improve in our lives that will lead to fulfilling relationships.
In her book, Karla covers a wide range of emotions including apathy, boredom and fear. However, to keep this blog brief, I will focus on the ones I believe we deal with or talk about the most – sadness, anger, happiness and joy. I will address other emotions in future blogs.
Please note the information for this post comes from Karla McLaren’s, The Language of Emotions. What your feelings are trying to tell you. Please refer to her book for more information.
Sadness is very different from depression (sadness is an emotion while depression is a serious mental illness that affects the mood). When we allow sadness to move through us, it allows us to remove ourselves from ideas, situations, or people we have outgrown or who no longer serve us. Ideas, situations or people that you may have become attached to due to loneliness, a perceived responsibility or security. Sadness is telling you that it is time to let these people or things go, that they no longer serve you and are possibly causing you more harm.
Sadness is linked with anger. The two come hand in hand and are not as separate as you might think. If we do not address the things that are holding us down or causing sadness, then anger is inevitable. But anger is not a bad or wrong emotion. How we react is key and often causes the negative perception that surrounds anger.
Sadness is a time for rejuvenation and growth. Karla McLaren recommends asking questions such as, ‘What must be released? What must be rejuvenated?’ What is it in your life that you need to let go of or move away from? You may need to seek the support of a counsellor or life coach to explore this deeper, and to assist you in making the decision.
Anger is your boundary setting. The emotion of anger tells you that your boundaries have been violated, either intentionally or unintentionally, by another person. Now anger is often associated with negativity and we are told we shouldn’t feel anger and we shouldn’t express it. The problem is usually that we contain our anger when it arises and keep it contained until it cannot be contained any longer. Then the pressure cooker explodes, causing rifts and ruptures in relationships and, sometimes, criminal behaviour.
Some of the questions to ask when anger arises is, ‘What must be protected? What must be restored?’ Ask yourself what boundaries have been broken? Once you know this, you can restore the boundary and prevent any ruptures or violence that may ensue.
This doesn’t mean you don’t deal with the situation that made you angry. If someone broke your boundary, intentionally or not, it is imperative to your boundary that you raise the issue and deal with it effectively. This involves having a confronting conversation with the person and expressing how you felt and how you could both deal with it next time. Now this conversation may not go in your favour. I have had many conversations where the other person has made attempts at gaslighting me into thinking, ‘This is only my perception of the situation.’ Sometimes people refuse to acknowledge their behaviours or mistakes. That’s ok. You can’t control other people. You can only control your own response and the fact that you raised the issue will reset your boundaries instantly. If these issues continue in a relationship or workplace, then my suggestion is to seek the support of Human Resources or a counsellor to consider other options.
Happiness, according to Karla McLaren, can be the most dangerous emotion of all, simply because we spend years and thousands of dollars chasing it, at times refusing to acknowledge any other emotion. In fact, we often denigrate other emotions and try to force them down in an attempt to be happy all the time. It is impossible to be happy all the time. Besides, other emotions provide us with valuable information that teach us about ourselves and our lives.
Having said all of this, happiness provides its own benefits and lessons. When we’re happy we say, ‘Thank you for this lively celebration.’ Enjoy happiness and give yourself permission to be happy. Happiness sometimes comes with negative connotations such as ‘happy fool’ or ‘blissful ignorance’. We all know these are not true. Happiness allows us to feel good and to bask in life. It allows us to celebrate the good. Honouring our own happiness, means we can honour the happiness of others. There is no greater joy than that.
‘Thank you for this radiant moment!’
The internal statement for joy is this – enjoy and bask in the moment and allow yourself to feel it. Joy is different from happiness. It is a feeling of being at one with everything in the world, good and bad. In my experience, joy doesn’t always last long. In fact it can be very fleeting. However, I grab it the moment it presents itself to me. Joy comes when we practice our rejuvenation practice (‘What must be released? What must be rejuvenated?’) usually after feeling sadness and when we have weathered a difficult storm. Like happiness, we seek and chase joy, when in fact we don’t need to do this. Joy will come to us simply when allow it. We allow joy in our lives when we work through our other emotions including sadness, anger and even happiness.
The Wonder of Emotions
The purpose of this blog post is to share the knowledge that emotions are wonderful states of being. They tell us what we need to learn about ourselves. No emotion is good or bad, they are all valuable tools for our growth and development. In fact, as we know when we put a lid on any emotion, without addressing the cause, the emotion builds up until it can no longer be contained. Look at what happens when people don’t deal with anger effectively. So take this information, learn more and bask in the beauty of emotions and life and watch how your relationships transform.