Understanding Emotions


Most people tend to think of emotions as either good or bad, however emotional intelligence is about recognising that there is no such thing. All emotions are necessary and all emotions are assets. It is what we do with these emotions that determines our intelligence.


Our emotions become socialised from a very young age that they need to be controlled. It begins with statements like “be quiet”, “don’t answer back, its rude”, “stop it and listen”, “stop crying”, “big girls / boys don’t cry”, “Don’t raise your voice”, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” All these phrases are encouraging us to suppress our emotions and become like robots. They tell us that emotions such as sadness and anger are bad.


By doing this, we encourage society to act solely with a rational mind, the only problem is, we are emotional beings and it is unnatural. The outcome is people making logical decisions for emotional problems. With each experience we can choose to be half a person reacting with our rational mind, or a full person acting with a balanced response.

In fact, some people still today choose to be of the belief that emotions cloud thinking, that they ‘get in the way’ of productivity and belong soley to woman. Yet if we look at the current health of society, the ever increasing rates of mental illness, drug abuse and suicide, we see that our rational minds or actually failing us for it is these illness that have emotions at their core, not rational thinking.


In a nutshell, we have been taught to “Leave our emotions out of it”, that we are continuously encouraged to dismiss our emotions, to shut off from them and conform. Even in schools which are for inspiring, creating and nurturing, we insist students sit quietly, listen patiently while they experience learning. The irony is, that in order to experience something we must feel it, in order to learn from the experience we must be able to reflect on this feeling to see what it invokes in us. The challenge for teachers is that if we feel threatened in an experience we tend to respond or react out of fear or embarrassment, fear of failure, fear or humiliation. These responses often lead to what teachers would call inappropriate behaviour for which they are then quick to shut down with a detention or some other consequence.

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