Think Newton’s Laws of Gravity, the Laws of Motion, or the Relativity Principle. These laws of physics allow us to understand, define and predict our complicated world. They’re all based on formulas, and can be demonstrated by mathematics. They make sense. They’re logical.
As complex as those principles may be to thoroughly understand, basic knowledge of them at least provides us with guidelines. We know what to expect when we drop an apple, or push a chair, and generally why it happens.
But there is one powerful area of life which does not conform to the laws of nature. A part of our physiology that defines our humanness, and yet makes each human unique from every other.
Many highly intelligent, educated, successful people have sat on my therapist’s couch completely befuddled by their own or their spouse’s emotions. And they are confused for a very good reason. It’s usually because they’re trying to apply the logic of nature’s laws to something that does not follow them.
It’s wrong for me to be angry about this.
How can she possibly feel that way?
That’s a dumb way to feel.
You just said you’re happy, and now you’re not. Which is it?
Five Ways Emotions Defy Logic:
- With emotion, there is no right or wrong. Our emotions are biological. They originate in our brains, and they are involuntary. Because of this, morals and ethics do not apply to them.
The Takeaway: Never judge yourself for your feelings. Instead, judge yourself for your actions.
- Emotions can be both a help and a burden at the same time. Feelings can be heavy, and can weigh on us. Yet they are vital sources of information. They are our body’s messages, and if we listen, we are informed and directed.
The Takeaway: View your emotions as your friend, rather than your enemy.
- Opposite emotions can co-exist within the same person, about the same thing. It’s entirely possible to feel both pleased and disappointed about something; happy and sad; fascinated and repulsed, love and hate.
The Takeaway: Don’t oversimplify your feelings or anyone else’s.
- The more your emotions hurt you, the more they can help you. Our most painful feelings carry the most powerful, most vital messages. “Do something,” they tell us. “Face something, say something.” Our pain wants us to look at what we’d rather not see, and accept what we’d rather not know. The more painful the message, the more important it is to listen.
The Takeaway: Your emotions have great value, especially the most painful ones.
- Accepting and welcoming your emotions actually makes them go away. It’s true. Feelings that we avoid feeling have great staying power, and tend to get stronger. The very best way to make a feeling fade is to welcome it, sit with it, and process it. Try to understand its cause. All of these steps take away its power. It will stop running you, and you will instead take charge of it.
The Takeaway: Stop avoiding an emotion if you want it to go away.
Feelings can’t be true or false, right or wrong, smart or stupid. They just are what they are, period.
Feelings are the greatest motivators that exist. They are our bodies’ messages, that’s all. They may hurt, but they can’t hurt you. Listen to your feelings, but don’t give them too much power. It’s your responsibility to manage them, share them with care, and try to understand them.
Your feelings will inform you and guide you, but they cannot destroy you.
After all, they’re only feelings.