The Importance of Listening to Your Own Emotions
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How often do you express your emotions? How often do you think about your emotions? How often do you feel emotions? How often do you have a conversation about your emotions? I would imagine your answer is daily, maybe even closer to many times a day. We live emotional lives if we would like to believe it or not. Our emotions are vital to our existence, connection, humanity, and interactions. Dr. Sue Johnson says it perfectly.
“Anger tells us to approach and fight. Shame tells us to withdraw and hide. Fear tells us to flee or freeze, or in real extremes to turn and attack back. Sadness primes us to grieve and let go”
The question I want to focus on here is, how do you listen to your emotions?
Listening, the act of being present, attentive, and to understand. We listen to our family, friends, teachers, parents, significant other, doctors, and the list goes on. But how often do you listen to yourself and how you feel?
As Stephen Corvey American author, educator and businessman puts it, “we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply”. Now let’s take out the other person from the equation.
Take a moment and listen to yourself. What do you feel? Most importantly, what is your emotion telling you. All of our emotions provide us with information. It just depends on how we choose to sit with our emotion and allow ourselves to be present with it. No emotion is good or bad, they just are. We cannot experience happiness and joy without anger and sadness. Like anything else we have a variety and spectrum of emotions.
We cannot always control our emotions but what we can do is listen to them. We can increase our awareness around how we feel, and we can work with how long we stay in that feeling. Yes, it is understandable you may become upset when you receive a bad review at work, an incorrect order or even worse when someone cuts your off on the freeway. It makes sense you will become upset, emotional, or even angry but you do not have to allow the action of another to ruin your entire day. You can control your own emotions and listen to how you feel.
Our emotions are providing us extremely useful information. Emotions are connected with memories, experiences, people, events, and significant life changing moments. As Maya Angelou an American poet says “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel”.
Now let’s put you in the perspective of someone else’s shoes of a friend or loved one. The context of a situation typically does not matter, what matters is that underlying emotional that is felt. Now that’s where the deep therapy work begins. People feel good so they do good.
How can your emotions aid you in a positive way? What are they telling you? And how can you listen better?
These are some questions I will leave you with, to take the first steps in increasing your emotional awareness and to be present with your own emotions.
-Priscilla Jouvin, M.S. AMFT