Sitting in the back of a class called Personality and Behavior Change, I was chatting with my classmate who was a professional in Human Resources at a large corporation in Manhattan.
I can’t remember the context of the conversation, but I remember I told him, “I love emotions.”
“Really?” he said, incredulously, with a light netting of fear across his face.
“Yeah, why?” I said.
“Most people hate emotions,” he said.
I was (intellectually) taken aback.
“Huh,” I said genuinely.
And I think that kind of ended the conversation. Class started, or something. But it made me think.
And yes, I do love emotions. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the fugly.
I didn’t understand how saying so would catch him off guard.
A couple of years later, I was on a second date. We were in a taxi on the way home to my place from the bar. I was telling her what I thought was my life mission, or life philosophy, or what I believed in, or something in that word salad.
It was night in Brooklyn, and I couldn’t see in her face if she accepted or approved of anything I was explaining to her. She was, at least, not obviously disapproving of my attempt to explain vulnerable and cool s**t without sounding pretentious, confused, or immature.
I hesitated, because the pretentious me didn’t trust she would understand the meaning of the word “primacy.” (Spoiler: she did, it turned out she had a much better vocabulary than me and beat me in Scrabble every time.)
“I believe in the…. primacy of emotion,” I ventured.
Still not seeing much in the way of approval for what I was saying, I think I fumbled the next several sentences. I left myself less than enthusiastic about my explanation.
I’m not sure I’ve totally nailed it since then, but here’s a shot.
The Primacy of Emotion: A List of Big Thoughts About Feelings
- We are constantly immersed in, surrounded by, and generating moods and feelings, expression, motivation, enervation, and corresponding physical changes in blood and brain chemicals, muscles and movement.
- People are scared of emotions. People avoid recognizing their own emotions. People don’t want to talk about emotions, or learn about them, or think about them. This gives emotions even more power to push us around.
- Emotions connect and divide us, they motivate and discourage action, they clarify and confuse thinking.
- Scientists (psychologists) are afraid of emotion. With the modern growth of psychology in the 20th century, we see heavy emphasis on behavior and cognition. Psychologists, like everyone, steer clear of emotion.
- Emotions decide and guide our lives as much as anything else. Maybe more so. Our lives are created by emotions. Satisfaction, desire, fear, comfort, and well, heck, we could list all the darn feelings that structure and drive our lives but there is such a panoply of them, a smorgasbord, a buffet….. it would be like listing all the colors on your computer. Or all the commands in all the software.
- Emotion is crucial for love and trust and communication. Emotion is essential for teaching and learning, for dealing and business-ing, for memory and striving.
But enough concept. You might get the feeling of boredom and your eyes skip along to connect with, or grab on to something else.
Right now, you might be aware of a lot of feelings. (If you’re not aware, know that emotional literacy and awareness is an improvable skill.)
With emotional awareness comes the potential for emotional growth. And there’s nothing I’ve seen, but nothing, as powerful and effective at changing your life than emotional growth.
Your emotional growth is everything. Or almost. I don’t want to be so absolutist. But, it’s really freaking important to happiness, success, fulfillment, peace, or whatever you think the goal is in life.
So, in conclusion: all the feels. The real feel. The really real. Every day and always. I heart emotions.