Being human includes feeling, acting and mostly notably thinking in ways that distinguish us from other animals. Emotions are the sensed recognition of the fundamental humanness. The range of emotional and psychological experiences that we encounter in the course of life is at the heart of what it means to be human.

man sad feeling emotions

Through life, especially in childhood, we have learned categorize and judge our emotions and thoughts. We attach labels and we sort feelings and experiences, as good or bad. It is suggested that emotions perceived as negative maybe discouraged and unexpressed and that emotions perceived as positive, may be encouraged.

We usually enjoy and stick to the good ones and try to avoid and escape from the bad ones. We are taught to leave behind the very experience of being.

Although. . .  being human means to experience joy and happiness, but also means to feel pain, fear, and sadness. sad boy in rainy window feeling emotions

 

An experiential sense, a felt sense of self, allows us to simply be present to our changing inner occurrences. Have you really ever noticed —

  • Where do you feel the emotions in your body?
  • How does your chest feel? Your abdomen? Your face?

Emotions and feelings give rise to “somatic markers” (sensations)- in Buddhism called vedanā – which influence our decision making.

Two invitations

When we experience any uncomfortable emotion like pain, fear or sorrow, this can be an invitation to . . .

a. eat

Τhe belief that emotions are a sign of weakness and should be controlled has significant effect on emotional eating and on body weight. Eating can become a defensive and compulsive behavior which replaces the need to consciously assert one’s experience and expression of emotions. Since childhood many people learn to swallow their emotions, a behavior which makes them feel safe and more comfortable.

But there is an alternative scenario.

When we experience any uncomfortable emotion like pain, fear or sorrow, this can be an invitation to . . .

b. bring acceptance and love to our lives.

Love is about learning to stay with the emotions we like and those we do not like. It means to remain psychologically present, under either conditions of joy or pain. Let them be and then let them go. Being in awareness not only allows us to be mindful of the bodily sensations, breathing, sounds, emotions and thoughts but foremost, this awareness is a way to relate to ourselves and others.

 

Awareness creates and leads to connection

Choosing to engage with the present moment, with the self and others, the need to control, escape or avoid, is diminishing.  Mind, body and heart become one, the wholeness. The “I” becomes “we”. Every part of our existence becomes part of the whole, defining us as humans.  Recognizing our human condition we are open to our feelings.

roller coaster of feeling emotions

Fear and pain are not enemies thus there is no need to escape from them.

They belong to our lives, as the waves belong to the ocean.

Τhe ability to live with openness and the increasing trust of somatic wisdom, can guide people toward more satisfying behaviors.

 

People are free and happy, when they are doing what the deepest self wants and likes

Mindfulness, openness, and trust of our somatic (organismic) wisdom are the ingredients of a fully functioning person living a life in fullness. Instead of “fight, flight or freeze” reaction, mindfulness invites us at first, to stay, to relate with what is pleasant or unpleasant. An individual becomes a guest house of emotions and feelings. Welcoming experiences creates openness to live an authentic life. That trait creates wisdom, a practical wisdom which Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, called phronesis.

Well-being and happiness, as a general goal of life, can be achieved if one is living with values and experiences Well-being and happiness can be achieved through authentic openness and truly connecting to senses and emotions.  By allowing ourselves to be humans.

Elderly Chinese woman feeling emotions

I am wondering, how are you feeling now?   Which is your physical experience at this moment?  Would you say yes?

Κonstantinos Zervos, Greece

References

Fox, S., Conneely, S., & Egan, J. (2017). Emotional expression and eating in overweight and obesity. Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, 5(1), 337–357. doi: 10.1080/21642850.2017.1378580

Peacock, J., & Batchelor, M. (2018). Vedanā: What Is in a ‘Feeling?’ Contemporary Buddhism, 19(1), 1–6. doi: 10.1080/14639947.2018.1450966

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