Direct Expression of Feelings Part 3 Happier, More Productive Relationships
Lesson 20 Module 2
What are emotions anyway?
Can you look at someone's face and know what they're feeling? Does everyone experience happiness, sadness and anxiety the same way? What are emotions anyway?
How we express our emotions
Another major issue with emotions is how we express them. Most of the time, people express their emotions indirectly, which is what we do when we overreact. The skill of direct expression of emotion and feelings shows you how to express your feelings in a positive way. So what comes first, the chicken or the egg? In the case of emotions and feelings, the answer is crystal clear. Emotions come first and they come fast, driving our behaviour. Something we see, hear, or feel sends a message to the amygdala, the primitive brain. And if the primitive brain senses a threat, it floods the body with a chemical which creates an emotion such as fear and we react instantly. The rational brain is slower because it receives the information after the primitive brain. The rational brain then has to convert the emotion into a feeling, and only then do we become consciously aware of that feeling.
That's why you can't turn your emotions on and off like a tap. That is why, regardless of the environment you are in, you cannot prevent your emotions from influencing your behavior. Frankly, it's impossible. The skill of direct expression of feelings improves communication because it makes both parties aware of the emotion. And that is you tell the other person what you are feeling, removing the need for them to make a guess or an inference. In his book, Listening & Caring Skills, John Savage states that "The more you are aware of the emotion, the more you can determine how you will react and behave." And when the feeling remains only at the unconscious level, then the feelings can control behaviours that are outside of your awareness. So take a moment and check out the list of feeling words in your course notes. How many of them have you experienced?