However, as with any tool, when they are not understood or properly used they can be destructive to ourselves and others. People who are disconnected from their emotions can easily become domineering, manipulative, or sociopathic . Conversely, those who are connected to their emotions but who lack control of them can easily become dominated, manipulated, or victim to the ebb and flow of their feelings . To use our emotional compass wisely, we must wed our feelings to our intellect.
To properly use your emotions, follow these steps:
- emotional-awareness – Specifically identify the feelings that you are having. Don’t settle for “I feel bad” or “I feel good.” What are you feeling specifically?
- thought discovery – What thoughts are the source of the feeling you are having? If the emotional response is negative, what core belief/s do you hold that allowed these thoughts to arise?
- transmutation – re-frame the circumstances and replace the limiting beliefs into a more positive orientation that leaves you feeling more empowered.
- motivation – use your new emotional intelligence to add power to your actions and to support those around you through empathy.
It is also important to remember that all emotions are useful. Anger, fear, sadness, and disgust are just as useful to us as appreciation, hope, and joy . Fear prevents us from making decisions that carry excessive risk. Anger inspires us to change things that are no longer serving us. Problems only arise when we allow our unpleasant emotions to dominate our experience.
Again, negative emotions like anger, guilt, and shame are very useful. Use them as the tools they are. They are cues that let you know something needs to change for improvement in your life. Become aware of them, and then transmute them into feelings that empower your thoughts and actions for positive change. That is really the only control you have in life.
It may also be helpful to understand why we feel different emotions. Each of the fundamental emotions arises from a particular interpretation of events. Hope and Excitement are the anticipation of what you desire likely happening, but still implies a potential that it may not happen. Joy arises from the present-moment appreciation of what you desire. Fear is the belief in the likelihood of losing something highly valued. Sadness arises from the belief that you already have lost something highly valued. Frustration or anger arises when you feel something is unfair or unjust. So when becoming aware of these emotional states, ask yourself: what do I value that is being threatened that makes me afraid? What have I lost that makes me sad? What do I think is unfair?
Shadow Work and Individuation
The emotional traumas that people often experience as children in an attempt to comply with the demands of their parents and immediate social environment to gain approval and acceptance is usual dormant deep within their psyche. Despite not being consciously aware of these painful emotional memories, they are a key governing force in a person’s life.
As the famed psychologist, Carl Jung, stated:
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate
Jung referred to this process as one of individuation. This is the process that allows an individual to discard the mental programming that they adopted to survive in the world as a child, and construct a new paradigm that is in full harmony with their true authentic desires and expression as a person. This is the magnum opus, or great work, that has been shared through esoteric traditions throughout history. It was referred to as Alchemy in the middle ages and has evolved into the discipline of psychology today.
Where is the greatest discord in your life?
What emotions and beliefs are at the foundation of this part of your life that may not be serving your highest expression and fulfillment?