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What are feelings?

Time and again I encounter people that suffer from their feelings, either because they feel overwhelmed by them or because they don't have access to them. From an early age on, we are taught that feelings are either negative or positive. Thus, we learn to classify and to control them ... and to suffer from them. Life could be so much simpler, if we understood the following.


As human beings we are - like all mammals - subject to a completely natural predetermined way of functioning: When we are born, we are not able to control our highly complex bodies - it takes many years to learn it. Our feelings work like a control assistance in a car. Like lights on a dashboard, they give us orientation and indicate, when something is (not) okay. In life, feelings have the purpose of telling us which place/person/... is good for us - or not.

For example, when suffering a loss, we feel sad, when someone insults us, we react with anger (which is a clear sign that somebody is overstepping our boundaries).


Seen in this light, there are no negative or positive feelings. Feelings are neutral (like signals), they just indicate that we should act. They call for a physical expression and it is often a challenge to find a socially appropriate one.

We are innocent for the fact that emotions arise - we are nevertheless responsible for expressing them in a civilized way!

Emotions are our helpers, because they provide a huge amount of energy (= huge feelings) from time to time, in order for us to take action and to change the situation (therefore, they are THE vital source of life). At the same time, the huge amount of energy can be our undoing, especially, when we are overwhelmed or even steered by them.

By increasing our consciousness, we can a) learn to pause in emotionally demanding situations, b) to inhibit the usual inappropriate reaction and c) to finally learn a skillful and mindful communication, which will create a more peaceful environment.


Unfortunately, many people have learned to suppress their feelings. This goes back to (childhood) times, when they had to survive/ persevere/ fight and when it felt embarrassing or dangerous to show them. Doing so, they had no possibility to learn to handle their feelings adequately . This is a big loss and makes life much more difficult.


Food for thoughts:

- Feelings are not only innate within humans - animals have them in the same way, too!

- We all know at least 5 basic feelings: fear, sadness, anger, joy, love.

- We feel the seat of our feelings mostly in the intestines and/or chest area.

- Statistically, we make 80% of decisions based on our „gut feeling“.

- Feelings are a means of communication. The clearer we show them, the better we are understood - this works even between humans and animals.

- Emotions can have a cathartic effect and help us gain important insights.


Emotions are a great potential in our lives. We should try to use them.

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