Why emotions matter

Emotions are amazing.  

They are constantly looking out for our well-being. They help us notice things that we might otherwise overlook. They help guide us to our core values. And yet they are regularly feared, ignored, misused, misunderstood, and demonized.

If I were treated that way, I would start rebelling and wreaking havoc in people's lives, too! 

But the way we engage with our emotions doesn't just affect us internally. It also has an impact on the people around us, which in turn affects the quality of our relationships.

One of the most important things I learned from Karla McLaren is that I can only be present with other people -- actually be there for them -- to the extent that I can experience what they're feeling and not be overwhelmed by it. I work hard on this, because being connected to people brings me more joy than almost anything else in the world. But it is not easy.

Anger and shame are two I still try to push away (and talk other people out of feeling), despite knowing how important they are. Sadness and happiness are much more comfortable to me.

What about you? Are there emotions that you find especially hard to be around? Ones that you're drawn to? 

If it's a subject that interests you, Karla has a great website on emotions, with a perspective that I find much more helpful than what many of us have absorbed from our families and culture.

In addition, if you're a parent or teacher, I'd love your input on two new workshops I'm developing, Emotion in Parenting and Emotion in Teaching. What are your challenges in handling emotion (either yours or other people's) in your daily work? What would be most valuable to you in a workshop on the subject? Are there other things besides a workshop that would be helpful?

I'd love your written thoughts, and am also looking for people to brainstorm with in person. Let me know if you'd like to be involved somehow.