Recently I’ve been deep diving into identifying different emotions and how they affect our connectedness. The realization that there are so many emotions that go unnoticed because we lack the vocabulary for them was a real eye opener for me. Let’s kick it back to childhood. When you were younger, you might’ve said that you were “sad” when in reality what you were feeling was “loneliness.” Or maybe you identified an emotion as “angry,” but you were actually “frustrated.” As a child, you lacked the vocabulary to label the proper emotion, therefore beginning your emotional foundation on the basis that all emotions can be lumped into one basic emotion.
We leave so many rocks unturned when we generalize our feelings. We miss out on the beauty found when we dig a little deeper and examine what we feel in a moment. Being clear on our emotions will most certainly help with all forms of communication, including the way we communicate with ourselves. Figuring out the actual emotion that we’re feeling can:
Bring clarity to a conversation.
Calm an argument.
Properly identify emotional triggers.
Pave a path to healing.
Accept others' opinions with more understanding.
Serve as an aide in connecting with others.
For much of my life, I’ve witnessed mental illness and how it can spiral. You can trust me when I say I know both sides of the dis-ease very well. I have experience in being the one struggling and the one witnessing the struggle. In different stages of my life, I’ve been surrounded by chaos and when I overanalyze that (as I do with pretty much everything), I wonder what could’ve been different had those involved had a better understanding of what they were actually feeling?
One thing is for sure—you can’t express something you don’t understand.
Break the Cycle
Defenses are quick to take the spotlight when we’re reacting to a triggered emotion. We want to be seen, heard, and validated. We want to be accepted, loved, and understood. Here’s the thing: we ALL want that. The person you might be in disagreement with also wants that same acceptance. There are times that you won’t reach an agreement and that’s ok. If we start truly believing people when they tell us how they feel, we might just reach a space of acceptance for where they are coming from and maybe that could pave a path to peace. Does that mean you have to agree with them? Absolutely not. But accepting that they have their own feelings based on a lifetime of their own experiences is enough to wave a white flag of perspective. Recently, the universe has been testing me on navigating this “acceptance” practice in my own life. Sometimes certain opinions from people that I consider “close” can really pack a punch that gets my adrenaline pumping so hard that my stomach feels ill. My husband listens as I vent out all of my anger, and he reminds me (again and again) of the juvenile saying: “Opinions are like assholes: everybody has one.” My sister also swoops in and calmly reminds me that accepting them for who they are will ultimately serve me better. And they’re both right, but that doesn’t take away the feelings of what I now can acknowledge as disappointment.
I had to sit and really ask myself what it was that I was feeling. While sadness or anger may have blanketed the emotion, it was more than that. Once I was able to pinpoint what my tears were trying to relay, I was able to comb through the whys and the whats a little easier.
Why was I feeling disappointed?
What about this experience triggered me?
What part of me is reacting at this moment?
It’s true what they say about the proverbial onion—it’s a bitch. Layer after layer, and once you start peeling, there’s no going back. When you begin healing work, you’ll have things pop back into your memory that you had stuffed down years ago. And all of a sudden, here they are again, presenting themselves as a means to nudge you to work through them.
In order to break the cycle of resentment and anger, I realized that simply holding those emotions in wasn’t serving my highest good. What I needed access to was acceptance. Getting clear in my own emotional body, I was then in a space to begin accepting what they might be feeling and, in turn, what that might mean for our future relationship. That realization then emerged new feelings of grief.
There are some opinions I will not bend on, and if I’m honest, that may lead me to set boundaries that could ultimately tear a relationship apart, which is where the grief comes in. Grief with a side of frustration. Having the awareness of what I’m feeling gives me the tools to navigate and examine what to do moving forward. We can’t tell others how to feel or that their feelings are invalid or wrong. We must believe them when they express how they’re feeling. They have experienced things that we have not, from a perception that we have no place in trying to determine. There is zero way for me to ever understand that experience, even if we come from similar backgrounds.
We simply have to believe them.
I make a constant vow to myself to always remain open to learning. I want to reach the end of my life knowing that I did my best to bring love and peace to this planet and I can’t do that with a heart full of resentment. I can’t be mad at someone for not understanding my feelings if I don’t try to understand theirs and give them space to feel. I want to close this out with a re-acknowledgement that I don’t want this to come across as acceptance for hate. All is not forgiven because evil felt called to do evil. It’s more a way of finding personal inner peace. Accept that others have their own feelings to process and that you can’t change the lens through which they look through. Therefore, it’s not your place to tell them how they feel or to deny their experience. Also- *psst* Spread the word: Feel your feelings. Even when they try to shame you for it. Your authentic light will shine brighter when it’s not shaded behind undealt with shit. If you want to read more about emotions and how they affect our lives, I highly recommend the book “Atlas of the Heart” by Brene Brown. Not into reading? Good news, it's a docu-series on HBO too! This book came into my life at the most perfect time and really helped answer so many questions.
About the Author
Born and raised in West Virginia, you'll find Heather's heart outlined in the Appalachian mountains. She has strong passions for writing, healing, and music. She has spent much of her life spreading the message of ‘loving without conditions', all the while kicking up dirt - barefoot and dancing. While she has been an Energy Worker for over 15 years, a self-published author, and a business owner - Heather's truest love lies in being a mother...her continuous reminder of unconditional love and heartfelt laughter.