The Language of Emotions

“Although many of us may think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think!”

~ Jill Bolte-Taylor




Our emotions mark the very essence of our humanity. To be human is to feel emotion. We are emotional beings, and we are neurologically and biologically hardwired that way. With the help of our emotions, we can become self-aware and resourceful. By learning to engage with our emotions and to listen to the information inside our feelings, we can become whole.

Our culture is conflicted about emotions and is deeply suspicious of emotions. Our society trains us to suppress our emotions from early childhood. As we are encouraged to hone our intellectual skills, our emotional skills become more and more suppressed.

Our current awareness of the make-up and nature of our emotions lag far behind our understanding of the other aspects of our lives. Science knows how to send a rocket to Pluto, but has yet to work out our emotional reactions to our life experiences. The intellect is viewed as king in our society. We exercise, we are aware of the importance of nutrition and we philosophise, yet we are emotionally underdeveloped and sometimes dysfunctional. Our culture encourages us to ignore, suppress or camouflage certain emotions. Our upbringing conditions us to believe which emotions are right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable. Society tells us to view our emotions as problematic.

Emotions are not our enemy. On the contrary, our emotions are our friends who guide us through life. Our emotions are our internal compass, our internal, infallible GPS system. They always tell us the truth. They allow us to live with awareness and authenticity. Only when we are real and authentic can we become whole. Learning to understand the language of our emotions will lead to an infinite well of wisdom.

We have been trained from childhood to deny our emotions, yet emotions are fundamental to our ability to connect with the world around us. When we numb our emotions, we numb everything. It’s all or nothing. We cannot numb selectively. We cannot numb the pain, and yet dwell in joy. We even deny ourselves the simple pleasure of enjoying a stunning sunset when we numb our emotions. Our emotional bandwidth becomes very narrow: we live in this artificial, narrow place devoid of highs and lows, of intensity, vitality and energy.

Emotions are symbolised by water. When water flows, everything flows and becomes easy. When the flow is slowed down or blocked altogether, the water behind the blockage accumulates and puts increasing pressure on its physical environment until the pressure becomes so intense that the water spills over and wreaks havoc.

Many people have developed a defence mechanism to deal with their denied emotions: they dissociate from themselves. Neurologically speaking, this becomes an entrenched escape route. People may function brilliantly in some areas of their lives, such as work, yet major parts of themselves remain suppressed, thereby fracturing their sense of self.

Engaging with all emotions, as they arise, is the route to becoming whole. It is not about going back into the past and analysing causalities, but being aware of which parts of us are missing in the here and now. Our emotions will lead the way.

When we engage with our painful emotions, it is important to be in a safe environment. If the painful emotions have been previously suppressed and/or are of high intensity and volatility, it is advisable to have someone else present, either a good friend who is not emotionally involved themselves and can provide a calm, nurturing, safe space, or a trained professional.