My view is that our feelings are a gift and a tool that are ment to guide us through life.
No feeling is wrong or unwelcome, but a feeling can hold us hostage and effect us to unconscious and sometimes unwanted behaviour.
A rich emotional life is, according to me, something to pursuit, and not only that, but also letting your feelings surface and be accepted and acknowledged rather than suppressed.
There are a lot of wise people who have given this with feelings a great deal of thought and there are uncountable things written about feelings, so this is just a reflection upon a few perspectives and my own reflections. This is not in anyway absolut or considered fact, besides, what your feelings mean to you is entirely up to you, and no one else.
There are theories that states two basic feelings, love and fear, and that all other feelings are stacked in layers on top. Other theories states five basic emotion and agree that the other feelings are various layers.
An example of an emotion that is in layers are an angry parent who’s child almost ran out in front of a car, but luckily the worst case scenario was avoided, with both parent, child (and probably driver) left with high level of emotions. A common first reaction from the parent is being angry with the child, resulting in yelling at the child, but the anger itself is covering other feelings. What do you think those could be? Fear? Love? Worry? Gratitude? But at that specific time, the parent displays initial anger, which is also what the child is experiencing from the parent, where as the child might not be aware of the danger in the situation, or is scared or is crying and needs comforting. To many (myself included) have not reflected on that the expressed feeling might have a different source. It was a wake-up-call for me, and I have started to reflect upon my feelings and acted behavior in different scenarios, when I learned that feelings could be layered and really is an expression of something completely different.
One model that uses five basic feelings, where the rest would be layered feelings) states that those are:
By channeling the feelings and accepting them, we can understand them and use the force and energy that is contained in them. Anger could be used as a tool to set your limits towards others. Sorrow can give you access to great empathy and help you build meaningful and secure relations. Fear can be used to make changes and/or act. Envy can help you understand what you really want and work towards getting it. Love (oh, this wonderful feeling – what would life be without love?) is the primordial power that is the core of life itself and helps us connect with others, and everything around us.
Others say that there are four basic feelings:
And in eastern medicine they talk about five basic feelings:
Then there are models and theories that speak of nine, ten or twelve different basic feelings.
My view is that it does not matter what method or theory that categorize our feelings, or if they are layered or not. The important thing to me (and perhaps to you) is to become a master of identifying my own feelings and use them by channeling them in a suitable way that helps me grow as a person. And that I am observant when I express my feelings, or if I try to avoid or surpress them, or run from them in any way. Or if I let my feelings hold me hostage and let the feeling control me and my behavior and wellbeing, rather than being conscious and aware.
Feelings to me is about understanding and acting. No feeling is unwelcome, all feelings has their place and fills their purpose. My task is being responsive and understand my what my feelings want to communicate to me. My experience an my interpretation of my feeling might not be the same as your experience and your interpretation of the same feeling, simply because we are different people with different experiences. And there is nothing right or wrong in this. But even if we are different I see that we have the same obligation and opportunity to handle our feelings by letting them guide us rather than control us. Each feeling gives us a choice on how to let it affect us, if or not we let it control us, or if we can use it to reflect on what the emotion wants to communicate to us and act accordingly. Again, nothing right or wrong, just different ways, perspectives and choices. Each choice and each reflection gives an opportunity to grow and develop as a person.
What can you do when your emotions surface? What do you thing it wants to communicate to you? How do you let your emotion affect your behavior? When the initial reaction to the feeling has passed, have you acted according to how you want to be or act, or has the feeling affected you to act or behave in a way that you did not wish? If so, what can you learn from this experiance?