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I hate feeling feelings!

I don't know about you, but I hate feeling feelings!

Fear, anger, anxiety, grief...who needs them? Feelings often hurt, cause us to behave in ways we later regret, cause us shame, make us feel crazy or out of control and more. We can try to ignore them, push them down or to the side, or pretend we don't have them, but that doesn't work reliably. Sooner or later, feelings catch up with us.

I remember wondering why humans evolved to have feelings. It seemed they did more harm than good! Then I learned... if we couldn't feel fear, early humans would surely have been eaten by tigers! If we didn't feel anger, we wouldn't try to change things that hurt us. If we didn't have to feel grief, we would surely miss feeling love and connection with the world, our friends and our families.

Emotions are hard-wired into the middle of our brains and act as a compass informing us where we are and where we need to go. Understanding emotions starts with simply knowing we are motivated to move toward things that feel good and away from things that feel bad.

In real life though, it quickly gets complicated. For example, if we want to leave our current job but can't because of economic necessity, we have to cope with conflicting desires. Similarly, when our family members hurt us, we have both a survival impulse to get away and a survival impulse to stay. Two opposite and contradictory feelings, love and fear, propel us in opposite directions. These are difficult conflicts to resolve! And nobody teaches us how to navigate such universal dilemmas.

These are the everyday conflicts that cause us stress and suffering. They need to be managed with emotional skill. So, while we might hate feeling our feelings at times, we can learn to work with our feelings so we can use them for the good of our lives. 

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