Sometimes it seems that life would be easier without emotions. It’s true, we would not have to feel bad if they disappeared, but neither would we know happiness, contentment, or joy. We can learn to dismiss, ignore, stuff, and drown out our emotions but there are five reasons why we should respect them instead.
1. Emotions Provide Helpful Information
Our emotions tell us something about ourselves. They are a true indication of what is going on within us in any given moment. Perceptions, or how we individually interpret situations, can get skewed because human judgments are not always correct. Whether your perception is spot on or flawed, your emotions will be in sync with your personal assessment of what is going on.
2. Emotions Assess and Guide
Emotions and feelings tell you a lot about the environment you are in, and about the direction you are taking. Most of us have had the experience of walking into a room, and “knowing” it is full of tension, or that something is just “off.” This same emotional feature can also tell us whether we are ignoring our values, getting sidetracked from the business at hand, or how well we have treated someone.
3. Emotions Help Us Make Decisions
People who have had damage to the emotional center of their brain have difficulty making good decisions. When it comes to choice, our reason, and emotions make a good team. Using only one or the other is like a bird trying to fly with one wing.
4. Emotions Allow Us to Appreciate and Enjoy
We have the experience of beauty, joy, pleasure, and tranquility because we have feelings. Without feelings, you would not be able to delight in a decadent piece of chocolate, have fun seeing fireworks, or find contentment in a good cup of coffee (or glass of wine).
5. Emotions Are a Universal Language
Every human being on the planet has the same emotional language. A sad face looks the same in Tibet as in Brazil. Fear and anger look the same wherever you see them. This is the basis of empathy, or standing in someone else’s shoes. We all have different experiences, but also have the same kinds of emotional responses to them. On an emotional level we all understand one another, even if our actions say the opposite.
Learning to understand and manage emotion is essential to success, communication effectiveness, happiness, and good health. Those who live at the mercy of their emotions will find that getting counseling and learning to work with emotion is money well spent.