Understand your emotions, reclaim your power

Why do we have emotions?

In my work as a psychotherapist and humanitarian working in warzones and the aftermath of traumatic situations, I often get asked about the purpose of emotions, and just as often I get asked “How can I get rid of them?”

We can feel afraid of our emotions. They sometimes come out of nowhere and knock us flat on the ground. Sometimes we feel like our emotions lead us to make really bad decisions. They can really wreak havoc in our lives.

So, what is their purpose and how can you harness their power?

Here are 4 ways to use your emotions to reclaim more power in your life.

1 – Emotions are your engine

Think of a car. If your brain is the steering wheel and your consciousness is the GPS, your emotions are the engine. If we didn’t have any emotions, we’d end up sitting in the parking lot, not getting very far. Our emotions mobilize us. For example:

  • Anger, the healthy version, motivates us to create necessary boundaries.
  • Healthy fear helps us to protect our well-being.

They help us break through the resistance to change.

2 – Emotions make us feel alive

Some research about depression claims that rather than being a feeling of sadness, depression is more of a feeling of numbness. A lack of vitality.

When we have a big emotion, sometimes we’ll just numb it. With emotions though, there’s a master switch. It’s all or nothing. You can’t shut off anger or sadness without shutting off every other emotion. And when our emotions are shut off, we feel less alive.

Big emotions, no matter what they are, make us feel alive.

3 – Emotions help us connect to others

If a person shows their emotions we know where we stand. We know what they’re thinking and feeling. You can’t really connect to people without some kind of emotional process going on. When you’re numb you can feel like an outsider looking in. Emotions allow us to engage in life and feel connected. When our emotions are shut down it can lead to depression, a lack of fulfillment and connection.

Numbness can be a defense mechanism. But it can cut out your vitality and prevents you from really connecting with others.

4 – Emotions provide guidance.

This is the most beautiful purpose of emotions. Our emotions help us to learn and grow. Our emotions are how our subconscious speaks to us. Emotions are the language of the subconscious. This is where a lot of wisdom lies.

The messages can feel confusing though. We need to make time and space and sit in our emotions, even if that emotion is anger. We need to listen to the guidance that the emotion is offering us.

Our natural state is sunny, happy. It can be hard to believe that in moments when the clouds get in the way. But getting guidance from emotions is more a matter of revealing than creating.

No matter what the external circumstances, we can use our emotions as guidance.

Our emotions guide us, drive us and allow connection to happen. Emotions help us make our lives better.

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My book

If you have enjoyed this article and would like to take this journey further, check out my book The Good Thing About Mortar Shells: Choosing love over fear”.