What are feelings and emotions? Feeling is an experience we go through and emotion is the way we express our feeling. On many occasions we experience difficulties in identifying our feelings and expressing our emotions. Sometimes our feelings go out of control and remain enigmatic, confusing, unclear and hard to express. There are also times when we are incapable to understand or name our feeling. Sometime even more difficult circumstances arise when we are not able to express our emotions in line with our feelings. Our emotions are mostly the responses to our feelings. Try thinking on some of the common feelings we experience and the emotions we use to express them: like anger, fear, disappointment, guilt, happiness, sadness etc. What are our emotions when we express these feelings? Is our emotion always expressed as a response to our feelings?
Our feelings and emotions play an integral part in our behavior. Emotions help us in decision making. It helps in predicting behaviors: not only our own, but of others as well. Our feelings will also help us in communicating a wide range of emotions. Emotions can be conveyed through words, sound, body language, and/or facial expressions and each emotion will communicate some message. For instance our emotions conveyed through facial expressions will carry our feelings to others without essentially citing anything. While doing so we also give signals on our expectations. Let’s see some scenarios: What is the signal we send while expressing pain when we are hurt? Obviously seeking some help! When we cry on the loss of a dear one we send a message of expecting some mental relief. What facial expression and emotion will be sent out when we achieve something or when our expectation is met? A smile, laugh and happiness! Even here our facial expressions will send signals of expectations. Do we expect some recognition for the achievement? Probably a wish or a congratulation note! Imagine about other occasions where emotions communicates through facial expressions.
On some occasions our feelings alert us to set boundaries with others with whom, we are not comfortable interacting. What is the solution to this? For me it is simply to express my emotion to protect my interest. Some people might not agree with this and I have seen many friends expressing wrong emotions in response to their actual feelings to strangers. While writing this I called a friend (Salim Palakkuniyil) to find out his views. According to him people might think negative about us if we express our emotions to set boundaries. I do not totally agree or disagree with him on this topic as it needs more study and understanding. It’s a matter of how we want to set our expectation and how we want to interpret to the situation. What I want to say is that emotions are the mediums to communicate our feelings and we have to express our emotions to do that.
How can we set our emotions to respond to our feelings? First step is to identify our feeling through wise questions. Ask wise questions to control feelings and understand our expectation and need. Let’s take an anger emotion situation. We can ask questions like: Why am I feeling angry? Am I expressing anger for the right cause? Is anger the right emotion for my current feeling? Am I angry because something did not meet my expectation? Who is responsible for the expectation not being met? Did I think of an alternative? Is there a way to overcome the situation or how can I control my feeling? If we are able to find answers to our questions, our emotions will be positive. If we have a negative or positive feeling, please try asking as many logical questions as possible that can be associated with the feeling so that we will have the right emotion expressed.
Love is one subject which would best explain the impact of feelings and emotions. What happens if we do not express our feeling of love to someone? The feeling goes unnoticed and has no value and probably adds stress to us. Neither we nor the person whom we love will benefit. Love request expressed might be rejected for various reasons, but it will still give us the satisfaction of being expressed, help us live in reality, and comfort us to understand situations better and set our expectations accordingly. Untold or unexpressed emotions can always lead to complex situations and uncomfortable feelings. Expression of emotions also has an important role in our family and relationships. A good understanding of our feeling and expression of right emotions will help our associations flow smoothly. And to reiterate, the only key to find correct feeling and emotion is to learn the art of asking wise questions.
We might have experienced or we might have come across people behaving indifferently on certain situations. Our common tendency is to immediately categories such people into a ‘bad’ listing or judges him as rude, arrogant or some similar feeling adjectives. We need to learn to combine our feelings into our life in a healthy way and express emotions encouraging healthy associations. We are all humans and feelings are an important aspect of us being human. Feelings and emotions can be set based on our expectations, needs, interpretations, concerns (both personal and social), and other factors.
Mostly our feelings are directly linked to the events in our life. Our interpretation of the event and expectation set is also very important in classifying our feelings. An incorrectly acknowledged feeling might be expressed with a wrong emotion, which can be perceived negatively by recipients. Sometimes we also interpret an event according to our suitability or with false knowledge, and shape our feelings and emotions to justify it. In such cases we are actually going out of the actual event path, ending in a confused state of mind and wrong expectation. Let’s take an example: Suppose two students go for a test and achieve the same grade, say B. One student might interpret it as a good achievement if his expectation was set to pass the test. The feeling generated will be expressed through positive emotions. The other student might interpret the same grade as below his expectation. In this case what would be his feeling and what would the type of emotion expressed. Why is this difference in feelings? Why two different emotions are expressed for the same scenario? It’s just because the expectation set from the same event were interpreted in a different manner. So it is important to understand and set our expectation in a realistic manner and to interpret our feelings positively.
Extreme thinking on a subject or event can lead to extreme interpretation which is not a good sign and can lead to false emotions. Too much of personalization or too much of generalization can also have influences in controlling our emotions. One best way to control our feeling and emotion is to ask questions like: What am I feeling now? Is my feeling telling something? Why am I feeling this now? Is this the right time doing it? Can this be done in a different and better way? Am I expecting the right thing? Will this harm or hurt others? The type of question we ask will have to be logical depending on the type of situation, event or expectation. We need to focus on ourselves and our feelings to ensure control of emotions.
Expression of feeling is very significant in developing our character and portraying our confidence. As mentioned earlier, ‘Expressing an emotion is actually responding to our own feelings’. If we do not respond to our own feelings we cannot respond to others feelings. So start thinking, start asking, start talking, start sharing, and ultimately start expressing. ‘Emotions are to be expressed. Suppressed emotions will always bring undesirable results’. Let your head and heart work together: to create positive feelings with logic and emotions! Remember the well said quote by Carl Buchner, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.
Take care until we meet again with a new topic. Have a wonderful day!