My mind, my thoughts, my words

Feeling feelings

Emotions are experiences characterised by mental states, expressions, and physical reactions. Feelings are the subjective experience of emotional states. If I didn’t say that something someone did hurt me they wouldn’t know – unless I communicated it to them through body language rather than spoken language.

Why are feelings important?

They make you a healthy human being. Yes, feelings can be annoying at times. Often you seem to be unable to predict and control them. Sometimes you’re sad or grumpy without a particular reason, other times you’re just full of joy. But it is better to have a jumble of feelings than none at all! Psychopaths, for example, lack feelings and therefore also empathy. Imagine never having been (emotionally) hurt by another person. You wouldn’t understand the concept of ‘getting hurt’, and you would therefore not understand that a rude comment might hurt someone else. Many years ago I watched a documentary (I tried to find it online but unfortunately was unsuccessful) about an Australian man who had an accident that damaged part of his brain and left him feeling nothing. He remembered having loved his wife, but he could no longer feel it. He explained that he could now understand how psychopaths ‘feel’ because if he didn’t have the memories of feelings from before the accident he wouldn’t understand the concept of feelings. Imagine how empty a life without happiness, love, and sadness would be.

They connect. Sharing one’s feelings with someone means that you’re opening up to them. By doing so, you get closer. I know what acquaintances do, but I know what friends feel. Because feelings are private, sharing them is like letting someone read your diary. That’s why talking about your feelings is a great way to connect with people that mean something to you and that you mean something to…

They allow you to know other people. Imagine you had a friend who never told you how they felt. Maybe you’re someone who has an easy time reading body language (correctly), but many of us are not so fortunate (which is why I usually want people to know how I feel and want to know how they feel to make sure neither gets it wrong). Plus, a sad face can have many meanings and causes. If the person didn’t tell you what was behind their facial expression you might make wrong assumptions.

You can learn from them. Isn’t it boring to talk about each others’ feelings for hours? No, not at all. If someone let’s you into their mind by sharing how they feel about their world, you’re able to experience how someone else experiences life! I find this incredibly fascinating and enriching.

They are part of you. Feelings are essential to social behaviour, decision-making, and planning. Just like you talk to others about the things you do, you (can) also talk about the things you feel. It can be very cathartic to share your feelings. Because they are private they may sometimes feel like a burden and sharing them can take that burden away (at least to some extent) but luckily usually doesn’t weight down the other person because they are still your thoughts and feelings and not theirs. At this point I want to add that sharing feelings can be hard, one of the reasons may be because they make you vulnerable (that is, if someone knows how you feel they know how they could hurt you).

Gender differences

Everyone has feelings, even if some people are less interested or comfortable at sharing them. Men commonly belong to that group. Men and women process emotions differently, which is why women are generally more efficient at understanding people and expressing emotions. The reason men are less expressive may also be due to societal norms. Many are brought up to show feelings less and to be ‘manly, strong, and confident’ instead. Many men view emotions (probably not anger though, which is an ‘exemplary male emotion’) as weakness and as a ‘female-thing’. But deep down, there’s a soft core. You just gotta find a way get through the shell.

To cut a long story short, there are only benefits to opening your mouth and saying what’s on your mind.


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This entry was posted on 29/04/2014 by in Miscellaneous, Psychological Issues, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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