Your feelings are related to both your mind and body. Yet, like so many of the concepts that guide your life, emotions are intangible. There is no one-way to define a feeling. There is no one event or object that you can point to, where everyone will have the exact same emotional response.
Like success, peace, comfort, struggle, love; all these concepts like anger are subjective, left to be defined by the eye of the beholder. If you see someone crying you, there may be several ways of interpreting their behavior. Were they cutting onions? Did someone they know die? Are they in physical pain? You don’t know by the tears alone. Behavior is a poor determinate in understanding emotions.
People are not taught how to fix emotions. Men learn from other men and one lesson many were taught is to use behavior rather than words to convey emotions. Yet, the expression of anger does not have to involve yelling or violence; sadness does not have to involve crying; fear does not have to involve hiding or avoiding.
Another lesson, many are taught is to label some feelings (fear, sadness) as bad or negative states and others (anger, excitement) as good or positive. However feelings are neither good nor bad, feelings just are.
If you listen to your emotions and understand what they mean, then you can address them and their intensity will fade. But if you ignore what your emotions tell you, your feelings build up and may result in a display of destructive behavior. Emotions are part of your life and to deny them is to deny part of yourself.
I have seen clients who have discussed painful experiences from 15 to 20 years ago stating, “I thought I got over it, I guess I didn’t!” Truthfully, they may have gotten over the initial experience, but the feeling is still as powerful as time it was formed. As a result of these emotions resurface and they re-experience the anger that was felt at some time in the past.
Let’s take a man who had a bad first marriage. He may relieve an emotional experience of jealousy any time his wife mentions, “I might be late”. The anger he feels when hearing this statement in the present triggers his brain to search for a memory and recalls a feeling of jealousy from his first marriage. If the husband dwells on this feeling, he will become insecure, angry, and suspicious for no reason in the present.
You probably think it would be good if you could feel perfectly happy at every moment of your life. I talk with a lot of people who have anger, and they say, “Well, maybe we can get rid of anger.” But we have a word for animals that cannot feel anger, fear, and pain: extinct. If you rid yourself of fear, you wouldn’t be human. Part what separates humans from other animals is to have emotions. Emotions may not make logical sense, but these reactions are an unavoidable part of life. We all have feelings, we have a heart, we are not the Tin-man.