You start out your life wincing and crying, demanding attentiveness to your needs. Certainly you make legitimate, necessary claims on those who care. And as you progress, those nascent wails are augmented by measured outbursts with evolving purpose. Dependence on these displays diminishes as you become verbal. You communicate your needs more effectively. Gradually emotions are unleashed especially when your ‘feelings are hurt’. Someone takes something from you or insults you:  watch out!  Ire wells up and unleashes a torrent of monosyllabic ‘insults’. “Fuck you” becomes part of this repertoire. But you soon learn you must control this reaction. Outbursts are considered ‘childish’ or rude. Admonishments make you uncomfortable. Venting quelled is frustrating. So you learn to ‘check’ your feelings; you resort to ‘reasoning’ which is more appropriate … and safer. Confrontations can be dealt with objectively. You harness your emotions. That’s a good child. But of course fear is an exception. Do not hesitate to ‘let fly’ on that one. Everybody is concerned with threats.

As life unfolds and your personality evolves you become adept at ‘managing’ your temperament. You want to accommodate those you respect and sometimes the people you fear. So you stifle inappropriate or punishable behavior. Occasionally, however, familiarity and a ‘comfort level’ allow for your spontaneity. Outbursts of laughter work well in context. But don’t giggle at someone’s misfortune. ‘Righteous’ anger is sometimes tolerated. Levels of intensity depend on circumstances. You may gradually replicate parental vituperations. In the home various exhibitions of rage may be common. But watch out if you expect these displays to sit well with strangers.

You develop different ways of handling provocations. Intense feelings may well up but you must consider whom you are dealing with and how much of the inner volatility you want to express. Revealing what is going on inside can be a mistake. You become cautious. As time goes by, complex repressions of feelings play a prominent role in your inner life. Obsessing on these can certainly make you miserable. So you find reasonable, acceptable ways to expel this pent-up energy. Games, sports, social events, concerts and dances … these may work well. Creative pursuits can also serve as a release:  rearranging a room, cooking your ‘special stew’. How ‘bout ceramics or finger painting? Gardening? Whatever works!!

Occasionally though you may find yourself close to ‘blowing the lid off’. He insulted you. Anger gushes up. Your face gets tighter, pinkish. Oh boy!!  ‘Get hold’ of yourself!!  Or your fear of flying, trying to control it. Hope no one notices the sweat on your face. How embarrassing!!  When a loved one dies:  a profusion of tears and cries shake you to your core. These are appropriate for awhile but grief soon finds a place to hide.

If you are a reasonably stable person, these experiences of ‘heart wrenching’ emotions are rare. You will probably remember them and their circumstances for years. And the more intense the feelings are, the more likely they will remain with you. Some may recall John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Throughout your lifetime your hidden reservoir of emotions is poised to burst open and spew forth. You ‘feel things’ everyday. But you temper most of your volatile reactions. You may try to ignore them, maybe even deny they are there. You may recount ‘hurts’ in privacy. ‘Venting’ to a confidant can provide a necessary release. You don’t want your repressed feelings to agitate … possibly for years. It can be depressing … dwelling on past ‘traumas’ and frustrations. If they prove debilitating in any way, you may want to seek help, a sensitive therapist perhaps.

Remember: your emotions have purpose. Powerful feelings can motivate you to overcome adversity. Saving a drowning child, protecting family, mourning the deceased:  these trigger energetic responses that emanate from deep within. If a close friend is dying, you can harness your sadness and anger into empathetic attentiveness. If your heart ‘goes out’ to needy animals, you can become an advocate for their welfare. You can use your emotions to improve the world … and yourself in the process. They are a great source of power … to get things done. If you care enough, you will!!



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