Understanding Emotions

Understanding Emotions

Understanding Our Emotions

We often see emotions as mysterious forces that arise unbidden. But with greater understanding of how they operate, we can cultivate more compassion for ourselves and others.

Tuning Into Emotions

Emotions communicate messages. Frustration suggests an unmet need. Anger points to a threatened value. Fear warns of perceived danger. When tuned in, we can discern the insights emotions offer.

Rather than suppressing difficult emotions, we can see them as natural responses, worthy of care and reflection. This helps us get to their root, revealing deeper truths.

Withholding Judgment

Labels like “irrational” or “extreme” often amount to judgments on emotions. This can compound their pain.

By withholding snap judgments, we make space for emotions to move through their natural arc. This allows their wisdom to emerge gently.

Finding Common Humanity

Behind all emotions lies a shared human vulnerability. None of us choose the conditions that give rise to our feelings.

In moments of reactivity, we can pause to remember our common frailty. This grounds us in compassion even amidst inner storms.

Cultivating Emotional Agility

Suppressed emotions often resurface as stress or lash out harmfully. Skillfully engaging them prevents this backdraft.

By building our emotional intelligence, we become more agile in responding to feelings productively, averting much suffering.


What are emotions?

Emotions are complex psychological and physiological responses that communicate insight, values, needs and threats perceived by our nervous system.

Why do we have emotions?

Emotions evolved to attune us to our environment and inner landscape, guiding adaptive responses that ensure wellbeing and survival.

How can we better understand our emotions?

We can tune into emotions without judgment, follow their arc, identify needs/values they represent and cultivate agility in addressing them skillfully.

Why is compassion important in relating to emotions?

Compassion reminds us of shared human vulnerability amidst emotional storms. This prevents harsh judgments that compound painful feelings.

How do we cultivate emotional agility?

We build agility by improving emotional awareness, intelligence skills, distress tolerance, self-care and adaptive coping strategies that prevent suppressing emotions.