What if you didn't have the ability to feel and understand emotions? We take the ability to experience and express feelings and emotions for granted.
We can feel many emotions . . . such as grief and sorrow that can cause a tightness or heaviness in our chest which can be released with a 'good' cry. We can experience the hot flash of anger and visibly see the red flush on our neck with this emotion. We be can be frozen with fear and feel constraint in the joints throughout our body, or feel happiness and unbridled joy, which makes one possess a feeling of lightness in one's body and movement. Feelings brighten and color our experiences of the world, and helps us communicate and connects us with one another.
Some individuals seek out psychotherapy as a way to help manage their feelings and interpersonal relationships. A few clients in treatment have a fear of emotions. These individuals create unique methods to numb themselves and disallow feelings to manifest. Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining an emotional shut-down is great.
Emotions help us think! Specifically, our feelings provides us with an awareness of what to attend to in our environment. Emotions help us prioritize our values and connects us to our sense of self. If one avoids or discounts their feelings, then one is at a great disadvantage, they may feel lost or become overly reliant on other' people's opinions about what is important. So, an understanding of our emotional life helps us create meaning and helps identify and prioritize our values.
Therapy often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, and one may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, psychotherapy has also been shown to have many benefits. Therapy often leads to significant reductions in feelings of distress, and better relationships through an improved understanding of one’s feelings and the emotions of others'. These skills can help increase self-understanding, and enhance social, professional, and interpersonal relationships.
To celebrate your ability to feel, please consider listening to the NPR broadcast byAlix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin "What An Hour Of Emotion Makes Visible". The program highlights, Kim, a medical doctor with Asperger's syndrome, which is a high functioning form of autism. The hallmark behavioral symptom of Asperger's is the inability to experience and understand human emotional expression. The program follows Kim through a session of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), an experimental therapeutic tool where high dose magnetic pulses are sent through the skull and directed toward the outermost part of the brain, the cerebral cortex. As a result of this treatment, Kim has a momentary experience of feelings and for the first time appreciates the significance of emotion. It is a powerful story.