The Gift of Feelings

Most of us do not receive training in how to deal with our own feelings – or should I say – most of us do not receive SKILLFUL training in how to deal with our feelings.

Feelings are a gift – they are happening all the time inside us in reaction to everything within and around us and they are like a constant temperature reading for our internal state.

We also know that feelings are very influenced by thoughts. If I believe the world is flat and not round, I will have many different feelings about alot of things than someone who believes the world is flat. I may be hesitate to go on a boat ride, I may be hesitant to fly, I may also disparage or be confused by or angry with others who disagree with me. I would find myself in a very small minority, which is often a difficult experience.

Feelings are not good or bad. They just are. When we learn how to skillfully handle our feelings, we decrease the likelihood that we will mishandle them. But what does it mean to skillfully handle feelings?

In simple language it means that we can all express our feelings when it’s our turn in a way that has integrity, has processed the feelings, and has integrated thought and knowledge into the feeling.

If I believe the world is flat but then I am exposed to undeniable proof that makes sense to me that the world is round, I will very likely change my mind and my thoughts. I will also have accompanying feelings: Shame that I was wrong for so many years, curiosity as to how this round globe works, and wonder at what else I can learn about it.

A person who refuses to open him or herself to new information or incontrovertible proof might become just angrier or argumentative. Another person may go a step further and try to convince as many people as he or she can that the world is indeed flat.

What makes us have variety in the strength of our emotional reactions? Many things.

When our physical or other sense of security is threatened by someone else’s thoughts, ideas, words, or actions, we tend to have larger reactions.

When something related to our self-definition of ourselves is threatened by someone else’s thoughts, ideas, words, or actions, we also tend to have larger emotional reactions.

Of course, we’re all very different and one person’s mild annoyance is another’s ruin of his or her day.

Notice your emotional reactions. Notice the intensity of them. Notice how small, medium, or large they are. Ask yourself why you’ve had the reaction you did.

Ask yourself how someone you admire would have reacted? Are there any differences? Do you know why?

Consider this scenario;

What if you are in a foreign country and you are accused of a minor crime which you did not commit?
How strong will your reaction be?

What if the country is known for having an unfair, corrupt judicial system very different from that in a democracy?
How strong will your reaction be?

What if the country denies you access to assistance during your accusation?
How strong will your reaction be?

What if news reports are published about this and you are interviewed? What might you say?

What would you feel and what would you say and express if you are told by a kind-hearted person who wishes to help you that your best chance for avoiding 20 years in a horrible prison is to plead guilty even though you’re innocent?
What would your feelings be? What would your actions be?

Whether we realize it or not, we are confronted with less intense forms of these questions several times a day.

Do we say something to the father we see abusing his young child in the subway or do we keep walking?
Do we tell our boss what we really think of a situation or do we remain silent?
Do we tell the truth about wrongdoing we’re aware of or do we not say a word?
Do we tell our partner we need a change in the relationship because our needs aren’t getting met or do we not say anything?
Do we try to discuss a conflict with a family member or do we drop it and hope it goes away?
Do we ask a friend for greater boundaries around an issue between us or do we not mention it?

All of these situations are inevitable conflicts we all encounter in life.

Wouldn’t it be great if as children, from grades K through 12, we were all annually taught Emotional Intelligence and Non-Violent Communication skills so we would learn how to skillfully be aware of our many feelings, learn how to be aware of our needs, learn how to communicate those at the right time and in the right way and lastly, but not least, always seek solutions for our own feelings and needs that did not do any harm to anyone else’s feelings or needs and supported the fulfillment of those for others as well.

Imagine such a world!

Start today making this a reality in your own world!



About Denise A Romano

Denise A Romano is the author of The HR Toolkit: An Indispensable Resource for Being a Credible Activist, published by McGraw Hill in 2010. She is a workplace expert and has a strong interest in government, business, workplace, and personal ethics. She can be found on LinkedIn. View all posts by Denise A Romano

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