I Have a Feeling; Understanding Human Emotions
A large part of what I do is help people understand their emotions. Part of being human is having emotions. Emotions are a great source of information. Unfortunately, we have been taught to suppress our emotions and to label them as good and bad, which prevents us from knowing how to extract that information. For many of us, emotions are confusing at best and unpleasant at worst.
My goal is to offer some constructive information about our emotions and how we can use them to help us. Karla McLaren, in her book “The Language of Emotions” lists 21 common emotions. My series of Understanding Human Emotions will focus on four basic human emotions; Scared, Sad, Mad & Glad, also known as Fear, Grief, Anger and Joy.
Part One: Fear
Real Fear and Fake Fear
There are two kinds of fear. Real Fear occurs when your physical self is threatened with extinction. Think, a bear appears on your walking trail. Your survival brain will send you specific information. In this case, that will be freeze, fight or flee. This fear has a clear source and motivates a clear action.
The second kind of fear, Fake Fear, is an overall anxiety or worry. It paralyzes, it doesn’t motivate action. Worry and fear keep us from acting on clear instructions coming from authentic fear.
We Are Living in a State of Fake Fear
Our current state, collectively, is one of fear. It is constant and pervasive and we’ve grown accustomed to it. Watching the news, arguing with our loved ones, working in a competitive environment, puts us in a perpetual state of lack and attack. This triggers our primal fear which responds by telling us to freeze, fight or flee but we don’t know how or why or where to.
Behind Fear is Information
Fear’s first purpose is to protect you; to keep you alive. It commands you to run, play dead or fight back.
Fake fear is protecting you from emotional/mental pain. It’s doing its best to distract you from your core issues. We first must look directly at the fear to get at what it’s protecting. I explain this in more detail in Have You Been Triggered
Questions like; “What, exactly am I afraid of? Does my fear tell me to do anything specific? If so, what?” And the bulls eye; “What don’t I want to know?” are a good starting place.
Thorough, honest research can be difficult, but revealing the threats that are hidden behind your generalized feeling of fear is the first step to overcoming it and setting yourself free from the prison it has you in. It will, with some digging, give you clear instructions regarding your next, best step. If you do uncover your authentic fear but choose not to act on the instruction, anxiety may just be your continued state.
Fear’s second purpose is the creation of courage. Overcoming obstacles and challenges is what strengthens us to be able to handle more, giving us more options in life. Fear is one kind of obstacle or challenge. Think about it. What if you never overcame your fear of crossing the street as a child or of having to talk about yourself in an interview? Overcoming fear is how we expand ourselves consciously and live bigger lives.
The willingness to pursue your heart’s desires and, understanding with compassion, that your fear is has information for you, is the difference between success and failure; a big life or a small one.
I Have a Feeling Part Two: Grief