Purposes of Unpleasant Emotions
It’s no fun feeling bad, sad, angry, disappointed or hurt. Let’s have a look at why we feel those things, and what the purpose is behind those feelings. Human beings are so creative, we think a thought, and then BAM…we feel something to go with it, and you know what? The feelings have a purpose, and in some way they serve a purpose at the time. They are useful to us, and in a sense we chose the feeling to serve us. Often we are triggered, and the feeling can come in so fast we don’t really know what we are dealing with. Let me start by looking at Anger.
When we are angry, we usually want control, and we want to ‘win the argument’, or we want to ‘get even’ or maybe tell the other party ‘I’m RIGHT! And you’re WRONG!’ Sometimes we use anger to manipulate the other party to agree with us, and to shut up! Sometimes, we need to protect our rights! Sometimes we need to say ‘Back off!!’ However, when anger is internalised, this is like a blocking a flowing river, and when the anger cannot flow we become depressed, and the purpose of this is to punish ourselves. So, keep it flowing, and work it out if you can! Sometimes we need to acknowledge how we feel, and validate our own feelings to prevent ourselves from internalising.
In milder forms, when we feel irritated or annoyed the purpose is to show the other person that we disapprove!
I am rebelling but I am not quite brave enough to let you know that! So, I am letting you know – ‘I don’t care!’
Interesting emotion this one! Really, when we say we’re bored we want someone else to entertain us! We’ve stopped taking responsibility to entertain ourselves! We want the other person(s) to provide excitement, we’re sending a message that we want change to the current situation, and we’re not going to do it ourselves!! That’s YOUR job! Or IS it? Check in with your responsibility here!
Eh? WHAT? I don’t understand! I cannot possibly make a decision and I need to avoid an expectation of what is actually expected of me! I need to procrastinate and have a bit more time with this to work out some clarity!
Put simply – I need to give myself permission to GIVE UP!! I’ve tried so many times, and I feel so discouraged, I’ve had enough!!
Oh dear! Well, let me just tell you how dissatisfied I am because I haven’t got what I want AT ALL! We can also be disappointed with ourselves too though, and we might not be able to face that immediately and so we might blame someone or something else before we can really feel that and make changes.
I need to get myself off the hook! If I can get myself off the hook you’ll excuse me and forgive me and let it go!! It never happened! However, if you feel embarrassed by someone else’s behaviour you are showing that you are superior to them, you could even control someone else’s behaviour ‘don’t do that/say that….it’s embarrassing!
Fear is born from the need to protect yourself or to create movement and change! Of course it serves us to protect ourselves, but what about when we are fearful of failure? What happens then? This is when we create so much movement through our our anguish or excitement it forces change and makes you choose a different direction or action, fear is sometimes very useful to us to be creative, facing our fears can create the necessary change for success or healthy changes.
I could write reams about this, because I think guilt has many purposes, but as children we are taught to feel guilty when we have done wrong, and sometimes this can be healthy, so I guess the guilt we feel here is appropriate, but sometimes guilt can also mean that we know what we have done wrong, we know what we SHOULD do to make amends, but we don’t really want to! Our inner conflict comes in to tell us actually we should face the hook, and MAN up and admit our wrong doing.
I also got to thinking about saying sorry! Those who say it quickly and those who can’t say it, and the happy medium. Sometimes we say sorry very, very quickly for the purpose of appeasement – I’m sorry, it never happened, please don’t be cross with me, don’t leave me. Or we cannot say we’re sorry – I need to punish you and make you believe that I am right so that I don’t have to feel guilty! Or we can’t say sorry because it just makes us feel so unbearably vulnerable – I’m wrong, I messed up, I’m therefore not good enough, and I’m so scared! So, I can’t say sorry because if I do you’ll know that!
Guilt always means that we need to change something in our behaviour, make the change and the guilt is healthy! Complicated, I may need to return to this one another time!
When we feel hurt we really want to get even! Often when we say we feel hurt, we are really hurting ourselves, why? Because we have devalued ourselves, we’ve just told ourselves that we are worthy of being hurt! OUCH!!! PAINFUL!! When this pain comes in we immediately need to get even with that other person and so we get angry to stop feeling hurt! However, usually, it’s probably a 50/50 experience – with healthy communication we can hopefully resolve this!
Oh dear!!! I’m very disappointed! I need you to show me some compassion or take responsibility because I need to feel better! Can you please do this for me NOW otherwise I will have to cry to show you that I am feeling very, very sad! This situation is very sad, it isn’t my responsibility it’s yours, please can you change it, so that I can feel better?!
Some situations however, do genuinely warrant sadness because we are empathising with another’s plight, we can’t change that, but we can connect with them emotionally.
Imagine a scenario where you have had a quarrel or an upset with your loved one, be that your partner, sibling, best friend or child. They’ve ‘upset’ you…you’re NOT talking! Tensions are running high. Sometimes we human beings can be very creative and we can break this tension by crying, we show that we are sad, and the atmosphere changes and communication improves. Sadness and tears have their purpose and sometimes are more effective than anger. We can no longer bear the tension, so we create something more bearable with an expression of sadness.
If we can’ do this, we bear grudges, what is the purpose of a grudge? Is it to protect ourselves? If an issue is unresolved and we feel another person has wronged us or harmed us, can holding on to a grudge allow us to hold on to the pain which forms a protective barrier around us, and so we avoid that person and therefore the risk of further pain? So could the purpose of the grudge be to it keep us disconnected from the person who hurt us? But are we also hurting ourselves because we’re not letting go of our pain, we’re simply holding on to it? Does this holding on to the pain also serves us as a demonstration of being ‘right!’
Communication may not always be possible with the other person, but it is always possible with yourself, so ask yourself, how does it serve me to stay angry, to be sad, to feel hurt? What’s in it for me?
Worry and Vulnerability!
When we’re worried we want reassurance because we’re sending out a message that we want to stop something bad from happening! Worry is like fantasy thinking if I think about it hard enough maybe it won’t happen! But I can’t STOP thinking about it. I want to make it go away!! I don’t feel able to cope with what might happen, and I’m very scared – vulnerable! This is the purpose of worry – to try to avoid our vulnerable feelings. Information is what’s needed, but from a reliable source. If you have a health issue, do NOT google it, speak to a professional, otherwise you will convince yourself of all sorts of things. Always seek knowledge from someone who knows what they are talking about. Sometimes, when we can’t solve something, we just need to try to find any way we can to quiet our own minds and park the problem, and create distance until we can deal with it. Easier said than done I know, because it depends on the size of the worry. Try to seek support to lessen the vulnerability to just get through one day at a time. Connect with someone who understands the issue and can either say something wise, or just offer warmth and compassion.
And many other emotions!
SHAME! – I’m disappointed in myself! This is very painful. I feel sad, and bad and I wish I hadn’t said or did what I did, but it’s a bit too painful to acknowledge this, just wondering if you’re still in there! I can’t quite say sorry yet!!
I’m so relieved I’m not going through what you’re going through! I’m sorry for you, but I’m also rather selfishly relieved!
WTHDRAWAL – I can’t really cope! I need to shut down and come back to this when I’m ready!
I know there is so much more I can write about why we use emotions, what we’re really trying to say- to others and to ourselves, and I may well come back to this subject. Animals are so much more honest than we are, they just express it, they don’t dress it up to save face or project their feelings on to another like we humans do. It’s quite funny really though, when you can see through it, understanding your own feelings and emotions creates a healthy distance and can help you let go and move on. All negative feelings stem from fear, and all positive feelings stem from love – Anger is always a lid for pain or fear, and once we lift that lid and have a look at the real issue and understand it, then there is room for compassion and understanding – for ourselves and others when we are ready. Easier said than done 90% of the time, but it IS possible sometimes. And where there is HOPE there is healing.