Why are we told that we should only experience and feel feelings that are deemed as “good”? We are told it is acceptable to be happy, joyful, loving, excited, passionate but we should never feel sad or angry or hurt or worried or shame or guilt because they are “bad”. Good & Bad Feelings. Are those our only options?
Every feeling gives us a gift and helps us on our journey to happiness and authenticity. Without feeling free to experience them all, we cheat ourselves of a full life where we can learn about life and gain intimacy with others.
According to my mentor, Pia Mellody, we have 8 basic emotions with variations of the words we use to describe them:
Fear: apprehensive, anxious, scared.
Pain: hurt, pity, sad, lonely.
Joy: happy, elated, hopeful.
Passion: enthusiasm, zest, desire.
Love: affection, tenderness, compassion, warmth.
Shame: embarrassed, humble.
Guilt: regretful, contrite, remorseful.
What we don’t learn is that each of these feelings is a gift to us. Not bad, not good…just feelings.
Anger helps us to be strong and assertive and gives us energy to make changes or stand up for ourselves.
Fear helps us protect ourselves by anticipating dangers and gives us wisdom about how we want to set our boundaries in the future.
Pain gives us awareness to grow and become aware of what we need to heal.
Joy helps us feel the abundance we have in our lives so we can feel happy and grateful.
Passion excites us to have an appetite and energy to learn and grow.
Love helps us live our lives so we can connect with others and experience spirituality, a relationship with a power greater than ourselves.
Shame helps us be humble and see how our behavior may adversely impact others so we can contain ourselves and not hurt others. It gives us a sense of the humanity of self and others. We are all born precious and are perfectly imperfect human beings. We all make mistakes and that is human. All of our poop stinks.
Guilt helps us decide what our values are and alerts us to when we are not living according to them. It gives us the opportunity to make amends when we have offended others.
As children we are often told to block these feelings because our caregivers don’t know how to teach us to handle them in a healthy and functional way. Often they have not learned and are scared of their own feelings or don’t know how to handle those of their child.
We all need to learn about how to manage our feelings like Functional Adults instead of Wounded Children who get triggered and spin our emotions out of control. We can contain ourselves and manage feelings in moderate ways so as to not hurt others while, at the same time, having compassionate boundaries in place that protect us from others.
Finally, I want to say that once we allow ourselves to have the basic emotions, we start to feel the fullness of our emotional selves by seeing the nuances that grow as we become sentient creatures. Knowing our feelings and being able to share them authentically allows us to be intimately connected to those we care about. And relationships are what makes the world go around.