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Head and Heart: why emotions and intellect must work together

Posted on February 24, 2015 at 2:05 PM

Emotions are often downplayed or undervalued in our society.  And that's putting it mildly.  Because emotions are so often viewed as out of control, we try to control them usually by keeping them out of site - stuffed in a corner, expressed when no one else is around, denied when their names are mentioned. 

 

But emotions, even the unpleasant ones, are invaluable.  They serve not only as a chemical release for the brain and body in times of stress or disorder, they also serve as red flags to our intellect if only we can view them that way.

 

When heart and mind work together in tandem, the brain views emotions as necessary release valves for thoughts that have accumulated regarding our circumstances or our belief system.  Quite often we will choose to acknowledge pleasant emotions, the ones we enjoy experiencing and chase after as frequently as we can.  To choose only pleasant emotions, though is actually to limit the intensity of their expression.  If we never experience the lows, how can we appreciate the highs nearly as much.  Now, this isn't to say that we should go looking for reasons to be sad and down in the doldrums.  But we don't have to run or hide from the unpleasant emotions either. 

 

And I do make a distinction in how I refer to emotions - rather than labeling them 'good' or 'bad' - I intentionally use the words 'pleasant' or 'unpleasant'.  All emotions are good in that they can serve us if acknowledged and treated appropriately.  It's when they are denied or squashed that they can end up taking over in ways that are quite unconscious and surprising.

 

It's the very thoughts (programming) of our minds in labeling our experience of these unpleasant emotions that then drives us to think up ways to avoid them.  We are driven to explain away why we would feel as we do about something.  We seek to avoid circumstances that constantly remind us or provoke those unpleasant emotions.  And to some degree that's a healthy response.  But when we build an entire thought-process, belief system, or mental program around ways to live so that we can avoid certain unpleasant emotions, we are giving over control to those emotions themselves.  They are now in the driver's seat of our minds.  So although we may be working very hard in our heads to create the illusion of control... we are unknowingly jumping to the tune of whatever unpleasant emotion we strive to avoid: guilt, shame, sadness, grief, anger, hurt, disillusionment, etc.

 

It's sad how creative the brain can get in telling us how to avoid the very partner that it has in navigating life.  If we could only make friends - allow the brain to value the heart's capacity.  In the same way, the heart can often want to stop listening to the brain.  It may want to just sink into feeling and intuition... soak up sympathy and throw a pity party.  And occasionally, this can be a healthy expression... but not as a lifestyle choice! ;)

 

When our thoughts can process our feelings and allow them to exist and be expressed, we can then create new thought processes that interact in a healthy way with our emotions.  When our feelings can allow our thoughts to interrupt and speak a few rational words - sometimes that 'tough love' that friends have a way of bringing into our most bewildering times... we can then rechannel our feelings into new expressions.  The thoughts create the channels, the feelings fill them up. 

 

How are you feeling today?  And why?