Video by Dr. Sydnor Sikes
Article by Dr. Kyler Shumway
Why is it important to feel your feelings? Do our emotions even matter? Would we be better off living the Vulcan, mechanical life free from sadness, anger, or even joy?
All good questions!
While most people would agree that feelings are important, not everyone knows why. A wealth of psychological research tells us how important it is to feel our emotions (here’s one example). When we disconnect from and fight our feelings, dysfunction and disorder tend to follow People might try to numb out or avoid their feelings through unhealthy means, for example. Anti-emotion advocates would use this as a prime example of the problematic nature of emotions, and why we’d be better off without them.
And yet, there’s so much more to feelings that most people don’t recognize.
Let’s dive into three less known, somewhat unusual reasons why feelings matter.
Reason #1 – Feeling is Just Another Type of Thinking
In Deep Eddy’s latest video, Dr. Sydnor Sikes shares some brief – but essential – wisdom about the importance of feelings.
When we are able to get out of our heads and into our hearts, we tap into a different way of experiencing ourselves. We are able to notice the vibrancy and nuance of our emotions and how they react to different stimuli. For example, if you were trying to choose between two different homes or apartments that were equivalent to one another in virtually every way, but the colors were different, you might have an emotional reaction to one color that says “yes, this feels like home to me.” In this way, your feeling has just given you a thought, a new piece of data, to use in your decision-making process. Nifty!
Reason #2 – Emotions Bind Us to One Another
If you ever took a psychology course in school, then you probably learned about attachment.
Attachment is all about the psychological bond that is formed in a relationship, and most people learn how to attach in their first few years of life. In many ways, attachment is like love. We feel a certain way towards another being, and that feeling goes beyond simple commitment. In other words, you might have a relationship that is entirely about commitment (e.g., a loveless marriage that stays together for legal reasons), but there isn’t much there in terms of emotional attachment (… or is there?).
Emotional attachments are the glue that hold people together, through thick and thin. If all of us abandoned our relationships the first time we were hurt or disappointed, very few (if any) would have durable social connections. Our emotions tell us that the other person has value to us, we care about them, and we want to be with them.
Reason #3 – The Human Mind Isn’t (Entirely) Housed In the Skull
It’s true – the brain is a magnificent organ that processes incredible amounts of information, keeps the body alive, and produces a large chunk of what we call “consciousness.”
A large chunk, but not all.
Our entire body is filled with nerves and cells, each of which is designed to learn, adapt, grow, and respond to the environment. And when we experience emotion, we don’t just experience it in our heads – we feel it in the body. We might experience sadness as heaviness in the chest, pain in the throat, and more. We might feel anger as heat in our ears or a pounding in our chest.
These somatic sensations are all part of the emotional – and psychological – experience. Part of your consciousness exists through the signals coming from all parts of you.
Pretty cool, huh?
So what this means for you is – being in touch with your feelings is much like being in touch with your body. And just like any other sense, such as sight or hearing, the more accurately you can experience things the better.
But, how do you do that?
Of course, one of the best places to learn to feel and understand your feelings is in therapy. Whether you are struggling with your emotions or wanting to feel more deeply, we want to help. Contact us today to get started.