I read the most wonderful book recently, the kind that you want to tell everyone about because it’s so life-changing. It was The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You, by Karla McLaren. While I consider myself a pretty functional person these days, as soon as I started reading it I realized that I have been basically illiterate in the language of understanding and feeling my own emotions.
The basic premise of the book is that each emotion, even the painful ones, actually has a purpose and a useful function. Each one brings a message, gifts and challenges, and she suggests practices to help make the most of these.
The most surprising part for me was that healthy anger actually has a vital purpose. It helps to set healthy boundaries and differentiation between oneself and other people. Of course this means anger when it is felt and managed in a healthy way, not spouted off indiscriminately at whatever unfortunate person you happen to be with.
A couple more great points I found really helpful:
Emotions are meant to run a fluid course, rather than being repressed or stuck for days or years. I have heard from a few sources that a free, unobstructed emotion will typically run its course in 90 seconds or so. I’ve tried this out & I can tell you it’s a huge improvement over fighting with it for days on end.
All emotions are true. The reason you are upset or angry may be a story that is not true, but the emotion you are feeling is true for you in that moment. Honor your emotions and give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling (emphasis here on feel, not act impulsively).
Words like unhappiness or depression are frequently used as catch-all terms for a huge variety of emotions, anxieties, issues etc. By digging a little deeper into the feelings underneath we can uncover some amazing insight.
I could go on for pages more about this. I did have a chance to speak with author Karla McLaren (she offers consultations by phone), and she was just as insightful and wonderfully hilarious in real time. I hope that you will consider checking out this amazing book.