Understanding Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You

When it comes to understanding emotions, it’s important to decipher what your feelings are trying to tell you. But listening to your emotions isn’t always easy. Sometimes, they’re overwhelming and confusing.

Emotions often serve as messengers, telling us something that we might know but not quite yet understand. It’s important for us to understand what our feelings are trying to tell us so that we can properly deal with them.

Why Do Emotions Matter?

Emotions add color and light to our lives. By blocking them, we limit our experiences. Our emotions connect us to the world and to each other. They shape the way we interact with the world around us. So, if they’re so incredible, why do we block them?

In my personal experience, I struggled throughout my childhood to tolerate my emotions and the sensations they brought up in my body and the way those around me reacted. I found it easier to shove them down as opposed to feeling them. Instead of building resilience for these feelings, I hid from them and ignored important messages. Because I’m a highly sensitive person, this was even worse.

Take some time to think about it. What prevents you from feeling your emotions?

understanding own emotions

Misunderstanding Emotions

We often misunderstand the messages that emotions send us. We confuse their whispers and ignore what they are desperately trying to communicate to us. A lot of the sensations created by emotions feel similar in our bodies, it’s all too common for us to mistake sadness for anger or excitement for anxiety.

But truly identifying and understanding our emotions is an important part of mastering our anxiety and life as a whole.

Listening to and Identifying Emotions

We all know the basic emotions we feel: anger, sadness, fear and happiness. But there are so many more layers and nuances that make up our diverse emotional landscape.

Each emotion holds a unique message and purpose. Familiarizing ourselves with these messages can be really useful in navigating the world around us and our own experiences.


understanding feelings bitterness

Bitterness serves as a mirror, reflecting areas where we need healing. It reveals lingering judgments, both of ourselves and others, inviting us to release these burdens and make room for forgiveness and compassion.


explore emotions resentment

Resentment anchors us in the past, preventing us from embracing the present. It signals our resistance to change and urges us to let go of grudges, allowing us to fully engage with the here and now.


emotional understanding discomfort

Discomfort acts as a spotlight, illuminating the need for our attention. It demands we become present and recognize what is happening in the here and now. Additionally, it signifies an opportunity to break from our usual patterns and explore new ways of being.


identifying feelings anger

Anger is a passionate advocate for our boundaries and values. It highlights what matters deeply to us and calls for action to address the issues that stir our anger.


feelings disappointment

Disappointment demonstrates our willingness to try. Each time we feel disappointment, we can acknowledge that we attempted something new. It shows that we did not give in to apathy. It reminds us that we still care and encourages us to adapt and persevere.


emotions guilt

Guilt exposes the weight of living by others’ expectations. It prompts us to reevaluate our choices and align them with our authentic selves. Guilt also highlights where our actions and values misalign.


understanding emotions shame
my emotions shame
shame understanding emotion

Shame unveils the layers of external judgments and beliefs that have clouded our self-perception. As humans, we internalize other people’s beliefs about who we should be (or who we are), and shame helps us to identify this. This complex emotion encourages us to reconnect with our true essence.


what your emotions are trying to tell you

Anxiety serves as a wake-up call to the present moment. It signals when we are trapped in the past or gripped by fear of the future, urging us to be fully present.


feel emotions sad

Sadness reflects the depth of our feelings and our profound care for others and the world. It invites us to acknowledge the importance of connection and empathy.

Importance of Understanding Emotion

Emotions are not merely fleeting sensations. They are profound messengers, guiding us through life’s complexities.

Through understanding our emotions, we can learn more about ourselves and reap the following benefits:


Emotions provide a window into our inner world, helping us gain insight into our thoughts, beliefs, and desires. When we acknowledge our emotions, we embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Unpacking my own emotions in therapy has helped me to foster a deep level of self-awareness and understanding.

Effective Communication:

Understanding our own emotions enhances our ability to communicate with others. It fosters empathy and allows us to express ourselves more clearly and authentically.

When it comes to relationships with others, we have to understand and express our emotions effectively in order to have successful relationships with others.

learn about emotions

Conflict Resolution:

In times of conflict or tension, emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role. Recognizing and addressing our emotions can de-escalate conflicts and promote healthier relationships.

Stress Management:

Emotions, when left unexamined, can manifest as stress. By understanding their triggers and patterns, we can better manage stress and its adverse effects on our well-being.


Emotions influence our decisions more than we realize. A deep understanding of our emotions can help us make choices aligned with our values and long-term goals.

Health and Well-Being:

Research has shown that emotional well-being is closely linked to physical health. Understanding and processing emotions can lead to improved overall health.

What Happens When You Don’t Feel Your Emotions

understanding your feelings

Just as there are benefits to feeling your emotions, there are also consequences when we don’t feel our feelings. If we don’t deal with what we feel, things can get stuck and end up having adverse consequences. These can show up as things like stomach aches, repeated illness, intense stress or even burnout.

If you struggle with anxiety, it can become second nature to ignore or suppress your feelings. We often believe that it’s easier to carry on without addressing them.

But, if we stifle our emotions instead of understanding and processing them, there are some things that can happen:

Emotional Bottleneck:

When we consistently bottle up our emotions, we create what can be described as an “emotional bottleneck.” This constriction of feelings can lead to a buildup of unresolved emotions, much like pressure building behind a dam. When it finally erupts, it can feel never-ending or lead to an emotional breakdown (or breakthrough).

Increased Stress:

Unfelt emotions often morph into stress. The unresolved tension within us can lead to chronic stress, increasing our cortisol levels and impacting both our mental and physical well-being.

Physical Symptoms:

Suppressed emotions can manifest as physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, digestive issues, and even more serious conditions if left unaddressed. It can also disturb your sleep schedule, leading to insomnia.

Strained Relationships:

Emotions are fundamental to human connection. When we don’t allow ourselves to feel and express our emotions, our relationships can suffer. It becomes challenging to empathize with others when we are disconnected from our own emotional experiences. If we block our own feelings, we often build walls and keep other people out.

Emotional Explosions:

Repressed emotions may resurface explosively at unexpected times. This can lead to overreactions or outbursts that damage relationships and create additional stress. It can even result in panic attacks.

Mental Health Challenges:

Long-term suppression of emotions can contribute to the development or exacerbation of mental health conditions such as anxiety, panic disorders and depression.

Missed Opportunities for Growth:

Emotions, even uncomfortable ones, offer valuable opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. When we avoid them, we miss out on these chances to learn and evolve.

Decreased Resilience:

Emotions, when acknowledged and processed, can contribute to resilience. Suppressing them, on the other hand, can reduce our ability to bounce back from setbacks.

Unfulfilled Life:

Ignoring our emotions can lead to a sense of living on autopilot, where we may feel detached from our true selves and our deepest desires.

The Power of Understanding Emotions

learning to identify emotions

Neglecting to feel and understand emotions is akin to neglecting a vital part of ourselves. It’s essential to recognize that emotions are not a burden to be discarded but a compass guiding us through the journey of life.

Whereas if we embrace, identify and understand emotions, we can connect with ourselves more deeply.

We live in a world that often rushes past emotions. As such, embracing them is an act of profound self-compassion.

Keep in mind that understanding emotions doesn’t mean we will always like or agree with them, but it empowers us to respond to them with wisdom and grace. Feelings are just feelings, not facts.

Connecting with our feelings can be hugely beneficial for developing resilience, mastering our anxiety and increasing our tolerance for discomfort. But it is hard. It takes work and it will hurt.

But without the uncomfortable emotions, you miss out on all the good feelings like love and joy and hope.

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