In previous posts I have discussed that feelings have the function of signaling to us important information about our experience and our environment. In order to respond appropriately to your feelings you have to
- recognise what the feeling is telling you. This is obviously an important step because often our feelings about experiences today are coloured and influenced by experiences from the past. It is vital to separate these two out from each other.
- respond properly to the message your feeling is giving you. Too often emotions are felt and expressed but not responded to. There is little point in regretting something you have done unless that feeling of regrets helps you change your future behaviour. There is little point in feeling frustrated unless you make and effort to attain your desired outcome.
Once you understand the functional 'task' the feeling is fulfilling, you can transform it into a feeling worth having. It becomes your friend rather than an unwanted guest sprung upon you haphazardly. Here are some functions to highlight the point made:
Regret signals to you that you made a mistake and invites you to think about how to not repeat that mistake.
Anxiety signals to you either prepare better for an upcoming situation or avoid it altogether.
Guilt tells you that you have done something that violates your own standards and morals.
Jealousy alerts you that you have picked up signals that indicate that your (important) relationship is under threat of being high jacked by another person or thing.
Anger is telling you that someone else has harmed you in some way. That could have happened now or in the past. It could also be that you anticipate someone harming you in times to come.
Boredom tells you that you are engaging in an activity that does not evoke any interest or passion for you.
Grief signals to you that you have lost something or someone very important and precious to you.