Emotions have evolved over millions of years, we could never have survived without them. Emotions enable us to assess situations and people and act accordingly, acting as guides and maps for surviving and thriving. I believe our relationship with emotions in general could be healthier, particularly emotions widely considered to be “negative” such as fear, anger, rage or guilt. The only reason we refer to these emotions as “negative” is because we don't know how to feel them and as a result they feel uncomfortable.
When we're able to allow emotions, though they may feel very powerful and scary, to move through our bodies, we're fully feeling our emotions. It's when we half feel emotions that they become an issue, they get stuck and start short circuiting in our system. This can happen if we become frightened of the enormous power and energy that emotions such as fear and rage carry, energies that power us to deal with certain situations and people. We can freeze feeling these emotions if we are unable or unresourced to take any action. The resulting short circuit or incomplete response can then be triggered every time we feel the same emotion in the future. If not released and resolved these short circuits contribute to an increasing build up of stress, which puts enormous pressure on our whole system.
Another reason for labeling certain emotions as “negative” is early conditioning. Take anger as an example, many adults believe children don't have the right to feel, never mind express, anger. It is possibly one of the most derided emotions in our “civilised” society, but anger is a very normal and appropriate response when our sense of self is being threatened. If a child is abused, not listened to, not taken seriously or not respected, anger arises in an effort to re-establish and reset their personal boundaries. But if a person's sense of self worth has been eroded, they will have problems feeling and expressing anger when it arises to protect them, because they don't feel worthy of protection. If they do manage to feel or express some of their anger they can be shamed for having the audacity to assert their sense of self worth and personal boundaries. A parent who allows and encourages their child to feel and express their anger, cultivates the child's self worth and personal freedom to define what behaviour they will or will not accept from others. Problems with feeling and expressing anger are related at the deepest level to self worth.
Anger, when unfelt and unexpressed can lead to rage. Rage is an enormously powerful energy that alerts us to the fact that we have been severely wounded and need protection from further hurt. It really is a cry for help. It is very very difficult not to act out from unfelt emotions. Unfelt emotions such as rage carry a huge energetic charge that propels us to discharge it, and unless we know of healthy ways, we'll discharge the energy in any way we can, often hurting our self and others. We'll take whatever temporary relief we can get. A felt emotion does not carry the same charge, so emotions are not the problem, not feeling emotions is the problem. We need to remember that what we don't feel, we act out, not the other way round. Many of us need to heal our relationship with anger and let this beautiful protective emotion serve us.
Anger is one of the sinews of the soul ~ Thomas Fuller