The Job of Emotions
Updated: Apr 22
We receive a lot of influence from society about emotions. Unfortunately, these can often focus on ignoring, changing, or suppressing how we feel, ultimately doing us disservice by dismissing important messages our emotions are trying to tell us.
In pre-historic times, a caveman stumbling upon a lion's den might have felt a bolt of anxiety. In this example, the job of anxiety would be to alert him to danger. Ignoring this feeling may have led to deadly consequences. By listening to emotional and physical messages, our caveman can quickly remove himself from this dangerous situation.
In modern times, it is unlikely that you will find yourself face to face with a lion, however this concept can still apply. For example:
You come home from work to find your significant other cooking a favorite meal. You feel a rush of joy, strengthening attachment between you and your partner. Joy or happiness solidifies positive feelings towards this individual, increasing the likelihood that you will continue to have this person in your life.
Makes sense, right?
Let's flip this scenario: you come home to your partner demanding a hot meal. You feel a flash of anger, but might say to yourself, "I don't want to be a nag. I should just suck it up".
What is this emotion telling you? Anger/ irritation may be doing its job by indicating that there is a problem with this situation.
By listening to our emotions we can address them in a healthy way. Let's replay this last example: you come home to a hungry spouse. By recognizing our emotions we can channel this message into a healthy response:
"When you demand that I make you a meal, it makes me feel disrespected. Next time, I would appreciate if we could create a solution that involves us making dinner together".
Ignoring your emotions may lead to repeat situations and compounding resentment, resulting in an eventual blow up or even the demise of the relationship. Respectful communication like the one above increases the likelihood that your partner will respond in a favorable way and that you two will have more positive exchanges in the future.