If you’ve ever been told that you need to share more about what you’re feeling, chances are high that you’ve never really thought much about your feelings. That was, at least, my experience. It wasn’t until I started learning about feelings in therapy that I understood how important they are. If this describes you, then here are 10 reasons why I believe you should pay attention to what you’re feeling from someone who’s had the same questions you’re having.
- You have them, use them: In what other situation would you purposefully ignore half of your capabilities? Contrary to what you might believe or been told, feelings don’t belong to an outdated part of the brain. They’re an integral part of us and help guide us through every step and decision of our lives.
- Feelings are information: Feelings were developed through evolution to protect and guide us through life. We experience feelings all of the time, about ideas, people, situations, etc.. They’re not necessarily correct but they shouldn’t be completely ignored or discounted either. See them as just one more data point.
- Avoid stupid mistakes: Feelings are impulses to act but they’re not necessarily the right action to take. If we don’t stop to reflect on what the action is, we risk acting impulsively, rashly and out of bias. Only by first acknowledging our feelings can we decide how we want to react.
- To feel better: Our feelings tell us that we need something. Whether it’s something simple to understand, like rest, or something more complicated, like a sense of purpose or connection, we need to slow down and become aware of what it is we need before we can go after it.
- Build resiliency: Regularly checking-in on our feelings and managing them proactively means we’ll be better prepared for the bigger challenges that life will, undoubtedly and unexpectedly, throw at us. We’ll know what we need and who we can turn to when we need it the most.
- For your physical health: Feelings that aren’t dealt with risk putting our physical health in danger. Addictions form as we try to block emotional discomfort with ever increasing amounts of alcohol, drugs, sex, or other dangerous behaviors and substances.
- Understand others: Understanding your own feelings helps you recognize them in others and relate to what they’re experiencing. This is the basis of empathy, which forms the foundation of any strong relationship. If you deny sadness in yourself, how can you comfort someone experiencing loss?
- For your relationships: For any intimacy to develop in a relationship you must be willing and able to be present with your full self. Sharing what you are feeling as much as what you are thinking encourages your partner to do the same, creating a more intimate, caring and honest relationship.
- Be a better parent: Parenting is draining and requires a great deal of emotional management, both to manage yourself but also to model healthy behavior to your developing infant. By teaching them how to recognize and manage their emotions you’re better preparing them for life.
- Be a better leader: Would you rather work for an emotionally attuned leader or one devoid of feelings? Good leaders are aware of their feelings and their impact on others. They’re able to use their awareness to connect and motivate and to make difficult decisions.
- No other choice (bonus!): Ultimately, feelings don’t just go away because we ignore or deny their existence. That lingering feeling of doubt will only grow more intense - even beginning to show itself in physical ways - until it can be ignored no longer. You don’t have to act on the feeling, but you can’t ignore it.
This list could go on but I hope I’ve managed to make my point. What are you feeling?