Emotions & Feelings
“And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life,your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.”
Gibran Khalil Gibran; Author “The Prophet”
Feelings and emotions are in the realm of the Feminine, while thinking and rationalizing is the realm of the Masculine. To live a fully felt life, all our emotions need to be validated and allowed to exist. By trying to avoid or deny darker feelings, we get stuck on them, giving them power and prolonging their presence. In the West there is a culture of shame around “bad” feelings, and a very ingrained opposition to publically, and even privately, expressing anger, fear and especially sadness. It’s as though acknowledging feeling sad is a personal failure. “Get over it and get on with it” is far more prized in the West than learning the message the emotion is trying to convey, or receiving the inner growth that the emotion is offering.
Steve Biddulfph offers in “The Secret of Happy Children”:
When properly handled:
Anger … Keeps us free; as we naturally feel angry when someone crosses our boundaries
Fear … Keeps us safe; as we feel naturally afraid of something/someone dangerous
Sadness … Keeps us in contact with people and the world; if we know how it feels to feel sad, we can have compassion towards someone else’s sadness, so we stay humanly connected.
Acceptance or aversion to emotion can differ a lot from culture to culture. At a Middle Eastern funeral people wail to release the pain in their hearts. At a Western one, people wear sun glasses so nobody can see the sadness in their eyes, as if it is something to be ashamed of. Overall, in the Middle East and other traditional cultures, feelings are expressed more and positive feelings are felt on a deeper level, and that leads to emotionally alive people, and an emotionally rich society. One problem with disallowing some emotions to be felt and expressed is that is inhibits our ability to feel other “good” and prized feelings.
“We have to let out and discharge our strongest feelings of rage, terror, grief, sexuality and hilarity. It is as if they would poison our bodies if held in… When we chronically block any feeling, it is as if we clogged a pipeline; all feelings have difficulty getting through, and the unexpressed feelings deaden our bodies and spirits”. Margaret Frings Keyes; Author of Emotions and the Enneagram