Our emotions are an important part of who we are, but understanding them is not always easy. According to an American psychologist, such misinterpretations are especially prevalent.
Our emotions can basically help us adjust to our lives and find our own personal path. However, the prerequisite for this is that we have some knowledge of how we understand our feelings. This, in turn, is sometimes more difficult than we think. In the online journal Psychology Today, psychologist Alice Boyce describes five common misconceptions that can occur when interpreting our feelings — and that acknowledgment and avoidance can sometimes make us happier and healthier.
5 typical misunderstandings when dealing with our feelings
1. We believe that our feelings stem from our present situation, when their origin lies in our past.
As adults, we can hardly perceive and experience a completely unbiased attitude and for this condition. We associate memories of past experiences with most situations – sometimes we realize it, but often we don’t. Therefore, it can happen that a situation in the present presents feelings in us that are actually based on an experience from our past. For example, in a healthy and stable friendship, under certain circumstances we may suddenly feel insecure and have a strong fear of being abandoned due to past experiences of rejection and loneliness. Most of the time, our emotional memory wants to protect us from having to experience the pain we have experienced in the past all over again. However, it is often difficult for us to feel the present. Even if we think we do. (You can read more about this in our emotional flares article)
2. We believe that another person’s feelings relate to us.
Like our emotions, the feelings of those around us are shaped by their past. And many other factors about which we know nothing, for example her physical safety, worries about her father, her dreams and longings, and, and, and. So if a person reacts angry, indifferent, or otherwise toward something we do, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the reaction is really ours – just that we get it.
3. We think our feelings are a signal that we need to do something to stop them.
Many people interpret unpleasant feelings such as fear or frustration as a signal to avoid situations in which they are experiencing such feelings. If you are afraid of confined spaces, do not use the elevator. Anyone who gets frustrated when colleagues make mistakes prefers to work alone. However, according to Alice Boyes, the problem with this interpretation is that this way of dealing with emotions causes the feelings to grow larger and larger and take up more and more space in our lives, ultimately costing us our freedom. For example, avoiding elevators can eventually turn into avoiding the subway, basements, some restaurants, and working alone can become an addiction to control or a lonely life.
In fact, our feelings are not there to imprison us or block our path. In this regard, this understanding of emotions is usually a misinterpretation.
4. We evaluate our feelings as rational or irrational, justified or unjustified.
Most people tend to rate their feelings, for example by comparing them to what others are feeling. For example, if I am worried about my mother because she is sick, but everyone around me, including my siblings, remains calm and does not seem anxious at all, I may tell myself that my fears are exaggerated, that I can not control myself and am very afraid and insecure . But does that give me security and confidence? Does this help me determine how to act in the situation? Mostly not.
Instead of judging our own feelings or the feelings of others, the psychologist recommends trying to adopt a receptive, open, and caring attitude. This way, our chances of decoding the true messages of our feelings and acting on them will be much better.
5. We focus on feeling.
According to Alice Boyce, many people have dominant emotions that they are accustomed to feeling, and therefore they can easily and clearly identify them. For some people it may be fear, others anger, others overwhelmed and some sadness. We often focus on these feelings, while ignoring and ultimately not noticing the other feelings we might also be feeling at the same time. For example, when I focus on my mother’s anxiety, I may overlook the love, connection, need, and feeling of being able to take care of her that grows inside of me.
In many situations, we feel more than one emotion and the more emotions we are aware of and know about, the broader our perspective on the situation and the greater our motivation to act. So instead of holding on to our dominant feeling, we can try to search for other sensations in our feeling.
Do we always have to interpret every feeling correctly?
It is certainly not necessary or even helpful in every situation in life to trace all our feelings and question every emotion and take advantage of its origin. We are also allowed to have a bad day and be in a bad mood without being able to explain what childhood experiences play on our moods – and we are even allowed to find them irrational. However, since our emotions can have a huge impact on our lives and actions, it can be beneficial and enriching primarily to pay attention to them, deal with them and be wary of hasty interpretations. Misunderstandings usually lead to conflicts. The better we understand each other, the more confident we (ourselves) can live.
Source used: psychologytoday.com