Seriously, where did you learn about emotions?

“Oh, yeah. I feel like a hundred dollars.” –Fletch

Did you ever go to school? Were you ever tested? Did you achieve a diploma or some recognition of excellence? And, if you did get educated, did you keep up as you grew older, while you became a much more complex person?

Perhaps you only gained a working vocabulary of emotions, from friends your own age who knew about as much as you did. Maybe you figured them out together, while you learns other subjects in school. Or did you have to struggle through them on your own, with few people to turn to?

I know, I know, it’s pretty clear when a feeling of happiness comes up, or sadness, or anger. Those feel so strong and powerful! There’s no denying that they come up, nor is there a need to explain why you feel them so strongly.

But…

I’ve found that people often confuse their feelings with their thoughts. “I feel like eating a burger.” “I feel like going to a movie.” “I ought to feel angry about this, but…”

Emotions are far more worthy of attention, and many people struggle with what they feel, why they feel those ways, and what they can do about them. There’s an incredibly wide range of feelings, and we can feel more than one at a time! They are natural, they are “honest”, and they are completely yours; no one can do anything to them without your permission.

I’ve written about “the GATE method”, a simple way to work through emotions in order to specifically understand why they come up, and what they mean to you. This isn’t the only way to process emotions, just a simple, fool-proof one. It opens the door towards understanding one’s self, and it allows a person to be responsible for themselves rather than be tossed about by their emotions. This results in a person who is fully empowered and available for themselves and others as opposed to people that are maintaining the appearance of control while bursting at the seams, ready to explode, with all their pent up feelings.

Consider the benefits of a strong education, and let’s set aside where the education comes from (college, self-taught, parochial, etc…). In a deeper sense, getting a “proper” emotional education opens the door to so much potential, and it prepares a person to create a full life. If you think your relationships are fun now, can you imagine if you both experienced life more fully, and were able to share that together? Can you imagine watching an old movie again and recognizing depths of the story that you simply couldn’t relate to? Maybe you could finally understand what is so moving and compelling in classical music, and then you might find yourself with hundreds of years of “new” music available for exploration.

It’s not difficult, but it may be unfamiliar, to study and practice the language of emotions. Just like anything else, though, it’s understandable, and when you achieve mastery of your emotional self, you open the door to a far more satisfying life, each and every day.

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