Understanding Emotions



The key to understanding emotions is to accept them as they are. Contrary to what most of us have been taught, they are not to be gotten rid of or changed. By learning their true purpose they become a great ally!

Ever wished that you could have a feedback system that gave you information about where you're headed that is always precise and crystal clear? And wouldn’t it be great if this feedback system could always be immediately available?

Well guess what, you have one!

Within each of us we have just such a system – an amazingly infallible feedback system that is totally tailored to each of us individually. Yup, you guessed it! It’s your emotions.

“Are you crazy?
I’ve been trying to overcome my emotions my whole life! Understanding emotions is like trying to understand the weather. How on earth could I ever get useful information from them? They’re all over the place!”


I know, it sounds wacky, but it really is true. :-)


How It Works

The quickest route to understanding emotions is to invite you to try a little experiment with me. Just sit quietly for a moment and imagine yourself engaged in an activity that you love. As you contemplate doing this activity, notice how you are feeling. If you picked the right kind of activity, you’ll be feeling some kind of positive emotion: joy, openness, vitality and maybe even love. Allow yourself to indulge in those feelings for a few minutes.

Now, let that scene go. Let’s picture another scenario. You’re working at a job doing something that you really dislike doing, but somehow you got roped into doing it. Imagine yourself on the job, doing this work. Notice how you’re feeling. If you picked something that you truly dislike doing, you will feel a stream of negative emotions: perhaps resentment, irritation or even anger, and maybe a feeling of contraction inside.

Now let all that go….


So How Is Understanding Emotions Useful?

Let’s say that you’ve been offered a job in another state and you’re thinking about leaving your present job and moving to take this new position. You’ve flown out there and visited the company, checked out the area, looked at places to live and you have a pretty clear picture of what your new life would be like.

You’ve written down all the pros and cons for staying and for going, and still, you just can’t decide whether to go or stay. You’ve even asked friends about their opinions and now you’re even more confused because they all have different ideas about each choice. You flop back and forth with your pros and cons, and understanding emotions seems impossible at this point.

So, here is where your handy Emotional Feedback System comes in. Find a quiet place where there are no distractions. Sit and close your eyes. Then imagine yourself taking the job and moving to this new city. Ignore all thoughts and efforts to figure out the right choice. Don't even worry about understanding emotions as they come up. This is not about thinking and figuring things out; this is about awareness and feeling – discovering what is true for you in this moment.

Because many of us aren’t used to this kind of close scrutiny of our inner landscape, this may take more than one sitting, but keep at it. Understanding emotions is a gradual process. Eventually you will discover that you will either feel a positive flow of emotional energy (a positive response to the choice you are contemplating) or a negative one (a negative response to what you’re contemplating). There is your answer about what to do. Your Emotional Feedback System never lies to you. It always has your best interests at heart, which will simultaneously be in the best interests of all concerned. Understanding this creates true emotional wellbeing.

Now do you see how important understanding emotions is? Often we’re conditioned to think we need to get rid of our emotions or to change them in some way. This is similar to wanting to get rid of our ability to have physical pain. If we did that we wouldn’t be able to know our hand was burning if we accidentally touched a hot stove. That could be quite dangerous! Likewise, without our emotions we wouldn’t be able to know when we are veering away from wellbeing, or when we are about to do something that could cause ourselves and others suffering.


Only One Source Energy

Another point that has been valuable for me in understanding emotions is the realization that there is really only one source of energy. This energy is the essence of who we are. Aligning with it – actually tapping into this Source Energy – is the direct route to wellbeing. This is the heart of love, openness, joy, expansion and growth.

Then, on the other hand, there is resistance to that, which produces negative emotion within us. The resistance makes it appear that there are two basic energies, but I experience it as only one: There is love/joy/aliveness and then there is resistance, which tries to slam on the breaks to the flow of life.

When we are thinking about something that is not in alignment with this core essence of who we are, our emotional guidance lets us know that immediately by producing a negative emotion. This lets us know we are veering off course. By continuing in the direction we are headed, we are resisting love.

On the other hand, when we are contemplating doing something that is in alignment with the truth of who we are, with our heart, then we will feel a positive flow of emotions – excitement, joy and expansion. Noticing this is a big step in understanding emotions.


Your Feedback System Is Working 24/7

This amazing feedback system operates every moment of every day – it is always with us. By understanding emotions and learning to listen to the valuable feedback they give us, we can totally change the course of our lives! We can go from creating negative situations for ourselves (and therefore, for all the poor souls around us), to creating a life filled with love and fulfillment.

This system is perfectly tailored to you. No one else can give you a true answer about what you should do, ever. They have their own Emotional Feedback System and their emotions on a subject could be completely opposite to you be cause they have a different life course than you do.


Emotional Kaleidoscope

Basically, we only have two emotions: one that feels good and one that feels bad. The one that feels good is giving you a yes answer to whatever you’re doing or thinking, and the one that feels bad is giving you a no answer to whatever you’re doing or thinking.

So, with this immediate feedback, we can shift our attention away from a stream of thinking that takes us away from where we really want to go, and place it on one that does take us in a more positive direction.

In understanding emotions it is important to see that although there are basically only two emotions, there is a whole kaleidoscope of textures and nuances of what we can feel. These emotions may seem haphazard and disconnected, but actually they are connected like colors of the rainbow, flowing into each other, from the extreme positive pole to the extreme negative pole of the emotional spectrum.

I have found this best described by the teachings of Abraham-Hicks. They are masters at understanding emotions. The material presented in the next section is based on what they refer to as “The Emotional Scale” (from Ask and It Is Given – Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther and Jerry Hicks, The Teachings of Abraham).


Understanding Emotions

The Emotional Spectrum

At the extreme negative pole of this emotional spectrum is fear, grief, depression and despair. It is the place of utter and complete powerlessness, where we feel the most disconnected from the vibrant truth of who we are.

The next “color” of the emotional rainbow from there as we rise up, heading back to the direction of love and being in alignment with our heart, we begin to feel some relief from total powerlessness and now we are feeling unworthiness, insecurity, or guilt. Still not great, but better than utter powerlessness!

Then rising up into another dimension in the spectrum, we might be feeling jealousy, or maybe hatred or rage. Now we’ve moved from a place of lifelessness to beginning to feel energy again. Not great energy, but energy!

Next in the spectrum come revenge, anger, discouragement, blame, worry, doubt, disappointment, then feeling overwhelmed. After that comes frustration, then pessimism. Still not wonderful, but a heck of a lot better than where we started out at powerlessness and despair.

From here we pass into boredom, which is a more neutral state than before. We can feel our aliveness in a much clearer way, but it is an uncomfortable restlessness.

Then, the next step along the way is contentment, followed by hopefulness and optimism. Hey, this is starting to feel pretty good! From here we can move into enthusiasm and happiness, then passion! Then at the place of complete alignment with the truth of who we are, we feel joy, empowerment, freedom, love and appreciation. This is the heart of all the positive emotions.


So How Do We Move Up The Emotional Spectrum?


An important thing to realize in understanding emotions is that usually we can’t go from the extreme negative pole of powerlessness to the extreme positive pole of joy and empowerment all in one leap. But we can do it incrementally. We do this by reaching for a better feeling thought.

If you’re in a place of depression and despair, make an intention to reach for a thought that feels better than the ones you’ve been thinking, one that you still believe is true. If the thought is too big a stretch for you, and you don’t quite believe it, you’ll probably feel fear, or some other negative emotion. So, therefore, that particular thought won’t take you into the positive direction you want to go in.

Instead, from this place of depression and powerlessness you could look around and find one thing that you do have power over and do that one thing. Maybe it is as basic as getting up and taking a shower and putting on clean clothes. Even thinking about that could make you feel better. You will feel relief and may have “graduated” from powerlessness to insecurity or unworthiness.

Then, reach for another thought that feels better from this new place. Say you want to go out and take a walk but you’re feeling discouraged. You start to blame the weather for being lousy, then you notice that you’re actually feeling better with that thought. Blame is a little higher up the scale than discouragement. Again, just noticing this little bit of relief and how you got there is key in understanding emotions.


Don’t Give Up!

If you keep working with yourself in this way, gradually, incrementally you will move through the emotional spectrum, eventually finding your way back into alignment with yourself and joy. Understanding emotions and making friends with them does take practice and a desire to uplift yourself, but you will be amazed at how much you are rewarded for your effort. It may take you a whole day or several days to move through each phase but you will get there if you just keep reaching for the thought that feels better than the last one. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs, one step at a time, getting closer to the exhilarating view on the roof.


The Law of Attraction

The universal Law of Attraction is “like attracts like.” We are all energy beings and are therefore always emanating a vibration out into the universe. And because we are magnetic, we are always drawing to us circumstances that are in sync with whatever energy we are holding within us.

As you keep focusing attention on this new direction, always reaching for a better feeling thought that brings relief, you will literally change your vibration. And as your vibration changes into a more positive one, the circumstances of your life will shift in a positive way as well, which in turn produces more positive thoughts, which create even more positive circumstances and so on.

I’ve found that as I go along and consciously keep making the effort to focus on positive thoughts, that I am also deepening in understanding emotions. Now I am grateful for them.


Don’t Judge Yourself

As you move through the spectrum of emotions (or actually, they move through you) as you move along on your journey of understanding emotions, be kind to yourself. Don’t judge yourself for what you are feeling as they pass through. This is extremely important. Emotions are just energies moving through us. They aren’t who we are. They’re like weather patterns that move through a city, but they aren’t the city. Don’t take any of the feelings personally. They don’t define who you are.


Key Points

Here are some key points that will help you in understanding emotions and making good use of your Emotional Feedback System:

  • Check in with yourself throughout the day, as often as you can. Just notice if you’re feeling positive or negative.

  • If you’re feeling negative, then check out what your attention has been on. Do this without getting involved in the story again. Instead just notice where your attention has been that has produced these negative feelings.

  • Don’t suppress anything that you’re feeling. Allow yourself to feel whatever energy is present. Allow your vulnerability in feeling this way. This in itself can transform your thoughts and release the negativity.

  • Reach for a thought on the same subject that feels better than the thoughts you’ve been dwelling on, even if it is just a little better. If the subject is just too charged, then think of another subject that brings you joy and focus on that for a few minutes. Go back to the troublesome subject when you’re ready. Just pick one thought that you believe and which feels better. Then when you’re ready pick another thought that feels even better.

  • If you’re feeling anxious and having trouble focusing, put your attention on your breathing. Don’t try to change how you’re breathing; just watch it. This is an amazing way of tuning into yourself in a loving, supportive, intimate way. It can calm you down and help you to get ready to do the exercises above.

The most important thing to know in understanding emotions is that they are an essential component of our being, and are here to help us navigate in our inner and outer lives. They tell us if we’re moving away from wellbeing or toward it. Once I recognized them for the amazing feedback guidance system that they are, I stopped fighting with them. I stopped trying to change them and began to honor them. Now I rely on them daily to give me the feedback I need to steer my thoughts and attention back to the joy and peace I want to live in!

From "Understanding Emotions" go to
"Emotional Pain – To Heal It We Need To Acknowledge It"


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