Emotions: To Feel or Not to Feel

When I understood the difference of useful emotions vs indulgent emotions my personal agency was seriously up-leveled. Do you know the difference?

My clients are smart, once they understand where emotions come from (their thoughts) then realize that they can change their emotions by changing their thoughts. I always have to catch them here and teach them: when to feel and not to feel.

Emotions are one of my favorite parts to teach because I was a master at not feeling.

I spent about a decade feeling like a shell of a human.

I know the cost, first hand, of not feeling.

  • Depression
  • Loss of connection to self and others.
  • Anxiety.
  • Loss of quality of life.

So how did I crawl out of my locked-up emotional, non-feeling, state?

Well, I moved to Esalen Institute, a place of inner-reflection.

It was an emotional boot camp for me.

The only way I could continue to be voted into to stay (which is how you live/work there long term) was by opening up emotionally and letting people ‘feel me’.

It was scary and overwhelming, and totally worth it. I lived there three-quarters of the year for five years.

My emotional boot camp at Esalen was largely based on pure awareness, experience, and expression.

I wish that I had learned, at the same time, where emotions come from and how to manage them.

Feeling is very important.

Knowing how to manage one’s inner state is equally important.

Three main steps:

  • Learn where emotions come from.
  • Learn the difference between a useful emotion and an indulgent emotion.
  • Learn how to process the useful emotions.

When I understood the difference of useful emotions vs indulgent emotions my personal agency was seriously up-leveled.

Changing them is not always the answer.

Often feeling the painful and negative useful emotions is the answer; which is the cultural norm and encouraged practice at Esalen.

Culturally, we are good at avoiding, resisting, suppressing, and changing our emotions.

  • “Suck it up.”
  • “Be strong.”
  • “Nothing happened.”
  • “Why are you making a big deal about…”
  • “You are so dramatic.”
  • “Don’t cry.”

These are thoughts and beliefs, that we were culturally told, which lead us to trying to change our negative emotions.

So when to do what?

The answer lies in if they are indulgent or useful emotions.

To feel the useful emotions.

To notice but not hang out in the indulgent emotions.

What is the difference?

Tomorrow’s post: Useful vs Indulgent Emotions.

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Debilitative Emotions