The Importance of Emotions

New Hope Counseling, PLLC

'Unleashing the Peace Within'. Vol. 1 Ed.5


When a client comes into my office, I often ask them a simple question. There are many variations to the question, but basically what I ask them is something like: "How are you feeling today?"

To many people, this is a confusing question. It is similar to the standard greeting of 'How are you?", or "Howdy", which comes across more as a greeting or 'hello'. Those questions are just polite statements which, perhaps when the person was a child he or she thought was sincere and genuine but, over time, they learned most people really don't care to know the answer.

Not so with the therapist! Or at least one's who believe that your inner workings and reality are important, relevant, meaningful, and even essential for your long term well-being and happiness. Not for therapists who fundamentally trust what you feel, as they believe your feelings are inseparably connected to your essential self.

There are therapists who actually don't care what your inner workings are, as they deem (like so many other influences in life) that what you feel is irrelevant, random, and unnecessary. These experts then completely overlook your emotions and solely focus on your behaviors without regard to your inner workings - your soul, if you will. Or, they pay attention to your loudest emotions and deem them to be 'chemical imbalances'  which need to be sorted out and brought into conformity through medications. 

It is not the purpose of this newsletter to battle or debate about who is right in their treatment of you, but I would like to address the importance of emotions, primarily to answer the often unspoken question of 'Why do some therapists (read in Dennis) focus on how I feel, rather than tell me what I should do?" 

Twelve Purposes of Emotions

Your feelings are not a bunch of random chemicals that wildly shoot around the husk of your body and mind. They are purposeful to your life and well being, and essential for your trek to happiness. I have crafted what I call the 'twelve purposes of emotion' to illustrate and clarify some of these reasons for their existence. 

Note that I have actually posted fifteen purposes rather than the listed twelve. Apart from an attempt at humor, I am also suggesting that the emotional, heart driven side of us, belongs to a different world than the one where numbers are real and define what is to be expected. The heart, and hence emotions, are blind to a world confined by numbers which is perhaps why the mind chooses to mostly ignore (to its determent) the many messages of emotion. 

Lets look at my list now!

1. Emotions Speak the Truth

Emotions are deeply connected with how you personally perceive the world. There was a time, before the development of language, when you viewed the world and saw things through your own eyes, thus forming your unique perception. Later, with the development of language, you began to understand other people's perceptions. One of the differences between the heart and the mind is that your heart is more in league with your own perception of the surrounding world; whereas your mind is more in league with the expectations of surrounding 'others'. Simply put, this means that your heart is 'truer' to your own perception than is your mind. Given this, a person can actually lie to him or herself, where one part of you knows something the other part of you may not want to know. 

2. They Are a Road Map

When a child witnesses a road map, all he or she sees is a piece of paper with lines and colors. They have no idea what it is, till an adult explains it to them. Even then they really don't know what it is. Later, with more experience, they too begin to understand the secrets of the map. One day when the former child actually drives a vehicle, then they understand the purposes of a map to a degree not possible before.

Likewise, many people don't understand their own emotions, let alone those of other's around them. They perceive them as colorful pieces of paper with lines and designs that are mostly unnecessary (speaking in metaphor) and, after some frustration in dealing with them, throw them in the garbage. Still the discarded emotions don't go away. They remain lurking around like an unwanted odor. That is unfortunate! Emotions are your personal road map to happiness. They help you connect with your purpose in life, and the direction you are to follow for a sense of contentment. Without them you cannot truly find yourself but, using my driving symbology, will drive around in circles looking for something you can't understand. But take heart! Your emotions help you find what you're looking for. 

3. GPS Device

If you are lost and cannot be found, then your emotions become a type of GPS device so others, such as a therapist, can help find you. To those who know and understand emotions (including knowing what to and not to listen to) sorting through the entanglement of your emotions isn't overwhelming or impossible. In fact, it can be refreshing! Your heart wants to be heard, and your emotions are the route to make this happen. 

4. They Speak of All Wounds

It is said that elephants never forget. Well, good for them! Guess what? Neither do your emotions. All wounds, past, present, or future, are remembered by the heart. Even if you shut off your emotions, and hide them away, your wounds are still remembered. Thus a person, who lies to themselves about their wounds, will at some point begin to have 'manifestations' of those wounds; manifestations which are beyond their power to control. In a war between the truth of your perceptions (your emotions) and what your mind wants to believe, the heart will always win out in the end. So, isn't it better to make peace with your emotions instead of warring with them? I think so. 

5. Point to What is Next

You cannot teach someone something for which they are not prepared. Believe me! I have tried. Often times people come into counseling and say they are ready to 'change'. They want to learn something new which will alter them forever. But, often times, they aren't ready for what they think they want. If a person isn't ready for an answer, and the answer comes, they can't accept it. They probably can't even see it. The answer will come and sit down beside them, and they won't recognize it. 

Given this truth about people, I listen to the emotions of my clients to hear from them what they are ready to receive. Then, when the pain is sufficient, as evidenced by their emotions,  sometimes they are ready to search for a way out. Its much like a doctor asking: "Where does it hurt?" If a client says: I don't know, you tell me!" Then I know they are not ready. If that is the case, I hear their emotions and listen for what they are ready for. Then we go there. I follow the adage of "Strike where the iron is hot". A cold iron yields to no hammer. 

6. Teach Us They Have Words

When we adequately learn the language of our emotions, we begin to comprehend that we can interpret what the heart is saying and place its feelings, images, and symbols into meaningful words. These words can often be understood by the mind who wants to understand them. When both the heart and mind connect through putting the heart's messages into words, this process is called hearing, or perhaps listening. Such listening is extremely rare and it takes place in loving environments, which are almost as rare as are listening environments. Those who do this well often then become artists, authors, poets, and others who share their gifts with the world.

7. Bind Us to a Larger Reality

When we listen to our emotions (getting beyond the fear and anger which often confuse our hearts and pretends to be emotion) we are exposed to something larger than ourselves, of which we are but a part. We could call this something larger 'intuition'. We could also call it our 'true self', or even perhaps our 'nature'. This larger reality gives us a definitive direction, if we can interpret it, much like a bird who feels when it is time to fly south for the winter, or north for the summer. 

Once found, this glimmer of something larger is often soon lost; lost, because the loudness of the surrounding world compels our minds to follow their 'Vegas lights-like allure'. Thus we can becomes lost in a materialistic outer world, causing us to feel lost and disconnected. 

8. Helps Us See the Truth

Still our hearts, despite being lost to an outer and louder world, sense that something isn't right. This sense comes through our emotions. We actually feel it within us! Our minds may be caught up in the hustle and bustle of the world, but our hearts know that we are lost and the truth of our perception is being ignored. If we take the time to listen and understand our emotions, we begin to hear the truth within us - which can be liberating, provided we are willing to listen and obey. 

9. Helps Us Know Others

When we have heard our own emotions, and have attuned ourselves to that nature placed within us, we become more liberated to hear the hearts of others around us. Of course, such deep hearing requires we have adequate boundaries (knowledge held by both the the mind and heart of rights and dues belonging to each individual), or else we can become overwhelmed and confused. Often when we hear others, we can't help but love them. Such love feels much like acceptance, understanding, and compassion. It is empowering, but potentially frightening for the fearful mind. 

10. Bound to Our Nature

Earlier, when speaking of emotion, I stated that emotion connects us with our intuition. I then used other words such as 'true self' and 'nature'. Our emotions are connected to our nature. What is nature? Nature is that seed grafted in us from the beginning of our birth, which unfolds our destiny as we grow. It is that road map in us which feels 'happy' when followed and 'miserable' when ignored. It is the truth of who we are before we become drafted into the army of the surrounding world, where our nature becomes warped, twisted, and altered to look like something other than our true selves. We may become confused by this ... corruption, but our emotions can help us sort our way out of the loud noise if we are able to step back and learn to listen to the deeper nature in us. Our emotions allow this to happen as we can feel the 'truth' when we stumble across it. 

11. Helps Us to Be Found

This stumbling across the truth described above is how we learn to interpret dreams, hear ailments of the physical body which may have its genesis in our psychological problems, and in general restore ourselves to happiness. Our emotions are key is this discovery process, and cannot be done through logic, scientific methodology, or chemical intervention. It is possible that such vehicles can aid in our journey of discovery, they cannot substitute themselves for a deep comprehension and trusting of our own emotions. Only our emotions can help us find our true selves and that nature at the core of our being. 

12. Helps Us Know What's Real

As we learn what to listen to and what not to listen to, thus finding the peace of mind that comes through connection to our nature, we also are granted a valuable gift. That gift is, we now have a key to discern what is real and fake. When our hearts have been heard by the mind, and we feel pure joy in the process, we know that we have found something solid and real. (Good luck in keeping it! The world will try to find a way to snatch it away from you.) When we have become darkened, depressed, discouraged, and lost, we know that we have bought into a lie, a deception, and believe something fake. This may confuse some, but it is the most stable and solid method out there to determine real from fake. (I could dialogue on this for hours ... but I won't).

13. Helps Us Beat the 'World'

When we can discern real from fake, we then have a path to beat the world. By beat the world I mean overcome its stresses, its illusions, its enticements, and its vices. Our emotions, properly heard, listened to, reflected over, and obeyed, give us the key to happiness despite the chaos of the surrounding environment. We become freed to follow our natures, rather than products of the world around us. We beat the world, because we are no longer what the world made us. Instead, we are harmonious with our true nature. We could call this attainment 'Self Actualization', a term used to refer to what is found at the top of Maslow's Hierchy of Needs. 

14. Helps Us Know Our Path

Again, by sorting through our emotions (stepping away from fear and anger), we hear through our excitement, our joy, our enthusiasm, a path which is meant for us. Anything which brings such vibrancy of emotion means we have found something vital to our well being. We have found something which creates a spark in us, where that spark is a sign we have found the right road. We should follow it, if we are disciples of happiness, and want to fulfill our purposes. 

15. Helps Us to Be Set Free

If we follow our emotions, with patience, responsibility, effortful labor, and commitment, we will be confronted by the limits of numbers, dolor signs, and the hard knocks of reality. This is how it should be! Those things are a wall which challenge us to dig deep down inside of us and check our souls for what we truly believe. Some people will be weeded out, and give up on their pursuits, being but dabblers and tourists. Others will rise to great heights and find greatness within themselves. They will even see miracles! Miracles come because their hearts cannot be denied and what seems impossible becomes possible to them. Or, they will learn something great and wonderful in the process, so great and wonderful that they will be set free from the matrix which confines them. 

Who would have thought, that all of this was the purpose behind the emotions found inside of us?

The Realized Self

If you wish to know more about your 'true self', delve deeper into your own 'nature', and get a deeper comprehension of who you really are and who you're meant to be, there is more to be found in my PDF or audio book entitled 'The Realized Self'. Find it at my book store, whose link is below.  

My Book Store

Well, now you have it! Who would have thought that a counselor could see all of these things with such a simple question? I now invite you to be a bit more patient with your emotions, a bit more accepting of them, and a bit more mindful of the messages they may be giving you. If you need help with them, talk to a trusted friend, or come and see a therapist who believes in the purpose of your emotions. 

May your hearts be heard and listened to!

Dennis Tucker, LCSW Therapist/Owner

New Hope Counseling, PLLC

9176 S. 300 W. STE 13, Sandy UT 84070

(801) 979-0610