A Thinker’s Confession: The Influence of Feeling Emotions

The Influence of Feeling Emotions

Most phobias in the world tend to focus on things that can actually kill you like spiders, snakes, heights or dogs. But my self preservative nature doesn’t focus on possible death. My biggest fear is feeling emotions. That’s right. Emotions scare the crap out of me.

The popular idiom, “fear nothing but fear itself” seems like an ideal situation but from experience, it sucks.

Don’t listen, guys.

It becomes a catch 22 of avoiding feelings because I’m stacking them and putting myself into a place where a meltdown becomes inevitable. I become a hoarder carrying tons of extra weight on my shoulders and it’s difficult to let go.

But even though I resist expressing my emotions because of a fear, you may have a different reason. Whether you’re a sensor, intuitive, an introvert or an extrovert, if you have a thinking process settled into the first or second slot of your cognitive function stack, I’m talking to you.

So besides fearing the sensation of emoting, here are some other reasons a thinker may avoid their feelings:

  • For Thinkers, some feelings are not intrinsically rewarding.
  • They aren’t interesting to dissect for most thinkers.
  • They seem to waste time and distract from what’s important.
  • It consumes energy to address them.
  • It may be frustrating or terrifying to admit incompetence with matters of the heart.
  • Feelings may trigger a sense of losing control since they can’t be measured, or rationalized.
  • Our world rewards Thinkers for being calm, collected and rational, so acknowledging feelings means entering a space that’s less celebrated.
  • They make decisions more complicated.
  • They tell us to make convictions which threaten freedom.
  • They plant uncertainty that we may not be right or that we don’t actually have control over everything.
  • They tell us to open up and get hurt when we refuse to get vulnerable.

So many reasons surface as to why a Thinker wouldn’t want to deal with emotions. So why even bother addressing them since the cons weigh so heavily?

Now if you heard the podcast on Emotional Stacking vs Emotional Overindulgence, you know that the majority of Thinkers tend toward stacking. So for me, since I feel insecure these days for seeing so many possibilities of emotional triggers, it’s my job to purge each and every one of those to prevent accumulation. If I don’t want to end up a dramatic, high-strung mess, I must engage in mindfulness and pursue awareness of my mood almost 24/7. As an INTJ, that knowledge feels daunting and I’m sure other Thinkers will have some other kind of negative response to that kind of message as well.

What’s Wrong With Stacking?

Emotions are like barnacles for Thinker Types. A single one may not feel like much at all. But if you ignore it, more will gather and cement themselves. Soon, you’ll have a mass buildup of barnacles all fused together and weighing your boat down. This hinders motion and slows down forward progression. Yea, you can still get through life but you’re obviously going to overcome more inertia as a persistent obstacle. Regular maintenance provides way less hassle and time than trying to scrape a hull full of barnacles off – especially if they had permission to collect and solidify over several decades.

Boating analogy aside, there’s another way that emotions can sabotage your life. If you hold your emotions for too long (even the ‘good’ ones), they can have a shielding effect on you as an attempt to block new ones from coming in. You may withhold the negative emotions for a time but you’ll also be deterring joy, forgiveness, relief, excitement, and other emotions that people tend to seek out as indicators of a healthy life.

Why Do Emotions Matter?

To answer this question, you need to understand their function. They don’t just exist in a vacuum. I mean, that’s why your brain wiring allows for them. They’re not just little minions attempting to disrupt your life at every turn. Here are a few reasons why emotions matter.

Reason 1: Emotions Alert Us

Usually we think of our feelings in the dichotomy of good or bad. However, I think it’s detrimental to consider them either. Rather, if you acknowledge your feelings when someone disrespected you or when someone gave you what you needed, you can probably imagine what it really means when we consider emotions ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In reality, emotions alert us when a boundary was crossed, or a need unmet. The opposite is also the same. We’re notified when a need was met and a boundary honored as well. Through this lens, all emotions are useful and a necessary part of our lives.

Think of them like a mentor. A really good one. Good mentors trigger you to think for yourself and find your own solution. All they do is point out a discrepancy. “Is this really the right program for you?” That plants an idea for you to chew on and then you can act on the information. It’s the same with your emotions. It’s their way of saying “Are you sure you wanna get into this situation?” and the necessary action following that is to ponder what probably triggered that emotion and what action it’s probably encouraging you to take.

Reason 2: Emotions Inspire Action

If you’re human, you are chasing an emotional experience in your life. Whether that’s happiness, adventure, anticipation, satisfaction, victory or what have you, there’s something sentimental that you’re aiming for.

So in addition to the previous point, think about what kinds of emotions might inspire certain actions. Let’s say you were feeling fear because your need for safety wasn’t being met. What could you do to make sure you were feeling safe? Would you voice your concerns? Demand the other person respect your boundaries? Establish a safety net through friends and family? Reach out to those who can protect you?

How about if you were feeling gratitude in a new relationship because your need for connection has been met. What would you do? Would that inspire you to show love by increasing gift giving? Would you call that person more? Would you verbally express that gratitude more than you have been? Would you feel free to say “I love you,” when you were holding back before?

This is how emotions inspire action.

Reason 3: Emotions Exist Physically

That means that you feel them in your body, hence the term “feelings” which may occur as tense shoulders, a heavy heart, or butterflies in your gut. This was one of my most recent, yet profound realizations I’ve learned. If you don’t allow your heart to express itself at a full level 10, and you stifle it down to a 3 or 4, your cells will store the rest of that wounding for you which means that over time, physical damage will result as the trauma builds. On the flip side, the feelings release much faster if you surrender to them.

I want to emphasize that ‘surrender’ doesn’t mean ‘losing control’ because remember that stifling them down raises the potential for egregious outbursts. That outburst may hit tomorrow or ten years from now, but you’re basically delaying a soda can explosion, thinking that you’re controlling the pressure within it by squeezing the can tighter.

Reason 4: Emotions Encourage Human Connection

When you shield yourself from your feelings, it’s hard to fully connect with people. When I say connect, I don’t mean networking. There are tons of Extraverted Thinker types with an entire tribe and audience that adores them to pieces. They are the types of people who can fill a room, entertain it, lead it, yet feel completely alone despite their community building skills. And if you’re an Introverted Thinker, connection might feel damn near impossible at times.

The connection piece stems from shared interests and values. You live your life to the fullest when you embrace emotions and tend to open yourself up to new sentimental experiences. That means more people who you actually enjoy being around, more pleasurable interactions, greater intimacy and more depth in your social interactions. Human connection means opportunity, work satisfaction, more avenues for accomplishment, financial security and an abundance in resources.

Let me break this down just a bit further. Humans don’t only provide love and affection. They also offer advice, time, energy, money, food and other valuable resources to the people they care about. However, emotions are part of a value exchange. Reciprocity is important. That’s why if you don’t have a friend or family member to talk to when you’re having problems, you need to pay a therapist to listen to you. For the listener that has no social connection to you, the value doesn’t lie in potentially being heard in the future so you need to exchange money to represent that connection. In addition, when relationships last for long periods of time, they serve as a huge support system for various areas of your life.

Reason 5: Emotions Contain Your Deepest Values

Some decisions in our lives seem reasonable. Many paths in life are completely viable ones. As a Thinker, you might choose the one that is most financially beneficial or holds the most potential for future opportunities. But which path is in tune with what’s right for you? What path honors who you are? The answer to these questions lies in your values because they tend to shape your identity.

They also help motivate us. Whenever you are out touch with your values, you basically hand them over to an outside source. In other words, someone else controls your life’s direction. It’s easy to surrender to a lifestyle that simply ‘makes sense’ yet doesn’t fulfill you completely because getting in touch with your character means getting in touch with your emotions which can be hard work. But you also lose your life purpose and your grounding as a consequence. Stop outsourcing your standards and connect with what’s important to you.

Reason 6: Emotions Drive Self Development

A major reason you become aware of an area that needs improvement in your life is because you feel a sense of wrongness. Your ego may take a hit after a certain scenario or an old trigger may show up. It gives you an opportunity to attend to them. When you start getting into processing your emotions, remember that the ultimate goal is about bettering your life and becoming a more well-rounded person. Let people see the truth about who you are genuinely and if icky stuff comes up, bringing those things into your awareness gives you an opportunity to work on them. Going through this process helps solidify your integrity.

Get In Touch With Your EmotionsInfluence of Feeling Emotions

Now I’m gonna be honest here. Once you start seeking out connections, you’re gonna feel a bunch of shit. Sadness, anger, frustration, uncertainty, sadness, disappointment, fear, anxiety, stress, worry, hesitation, and a whole bunch of other feelings. You’ll wonder why you ever tried to feel more things deeply, why you ever started being more authentic or being true to you, and why oh why you ever thought it was a good idea to actually say what you meant in a straightforward way.

Take one of the reasons why emotions matter (whichever one is most relevant to your current situation) and use it as a mantra during turbulent times. Remember your end goal and persevere.

Read & Learn: Check out these books and TED Talks to help build your EQ.

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B Rosenberg – This book provides tools for getting in touch with your needs and meeting them as well as the needs of others. It also details the role emotions play in your life.

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman – another incredibly helpful book that extrapolates on how to build your EQ and to get in touch with your feelings.

8 Amazing TED Talks that help explain the importance of building EQ.

Talk It Out: Whether you use Harmony (Fe) or Authenticity( Fi) talking things out can greatly benefit you.

For Harmony users – It’s important to have connection during the process of purging your emotions because the conversation becomes a sounding board. Give yourself permission to express what you’re feeling even if you’re unsure about exactly what it might be. The shared experience of talking it out will help you. If you’re uncomfortable with making the atmosphere incredibly serious, try building rapport through laughter first. Then clarity will become much easier to achieve.

‘In touch with your feelings’ looks like cheerfulness in a healthy Harmony user.

For Authenticity users – It’s important to talk things out in order to gain guidance or validation. Feelings can be confusing and you may worry that you’re being irrational or unreasonable and while self-validation can and is effective, sometimes you just need to hear, “It’s totally ok to have this feeling. I’ve had this feeling, too.” Or, “I totally understand why you would be feeling this way. I’d be feeling the same in your situation.” Then it’s easier to get into problem-solving mode so that your authenticity process no longer stalls movement.

‘In touch with feelings’ looks like tranquility and calmness in a healthy Authenticity user.

Meditate: Getting still helps center you. It doesn’t have to mean crossing your legs and going ‘om’ for two hours. The important thing about meditation is physical and mental awareness. Focus in on where feelings may exist in your body. Try to locate and identify them. Pay attention to the thoughts that flow by. Do they help you determine what emotions you might be having at the moment and what they might mean?

You can try guided meditations to help you. Plenty of them reside on the internet and a quick search will get you many results.

In Conclusion

I have no idea whether I have convinced you about the significance of emotions. I know it took me a freakishly long while to get with the program. Even now I still resist. But I hope that in the long run, this article helped add value to your life and inspired you into action.

If you’re a Thinker who realizes the importance of emotions, how did you get to that place? What lessons led you to that conclusion? And if you’re a Thinker that feels ready to start building your EQ, how will you go about it? Don’t be afraid to share your experiences in the comments.

Want to learn more?

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Showing 7 comments
  • Nina
    Reply

    Thank you for this article; it gave me a good overview of the reasons why emotions are worth processing. I’m an INTJ, and have recently gotten into an amazing relationship with an INFP, who is currently helping me figure out the maze after picking up on my lack of understanding and EQ. It sometimes keeps me up at night because I want to process something discussed again, it makes me feel happy and then wonder why happiness is now part of my equation (because of course I’m a cyborg), and it shows me that feeling vulnerable is necessary for learning and is actually quite affirming at times. I’m definitely learning a lot about what it means to let another person in and what really matters and motivates me.

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    (I’m an INTP) Thank you for writing this article! Had I found it earlier, it would have blown my mind… it still does, but I was fortunate to have a Feeler friend that explained a lot of “duh” moments for me a couple of months ago. Like the fact that your body’s physical response is the logical reaction to an emotion (lol).

    She also did her best with my impossible questions, like “People keep saying you are supposed to process your emotions, but WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?” It was a very confusing conversation, and she ended up explaining what she does, which we were able to try and translate to what might work for me. So what I try to do now is write down what I think I am feeling, and what I guess might be the cause of it. Sometimes that’s really hard. But in that way, it’s like a puzzle, and it allows me to approach it in a linear fashion with an end goal. When I experience emotions, it can be overly chaotic, and so this allows me a more controlled space for post processing, instead of ignoring it out of fear it will return.

    I’m really lucky to have her, because now that she understands how I am wired differently, she will openly correct me or give me advice. She understands that most of the time I really just don’t get what seems obvious to her.

    The two reasons that I connect with most are (1) Alert and (4) Encourage Human Connection. Alert is very important because I’m the person who’s like “I’m fine” and convinces myself of it. (yay 3 year olds). And then connection is important because recently fear of my emotions has kept me from reaching out to my family– and that turned into fear of even being around them, when really we should be processing things together.

    I am just beginning, over the past year, to be aware of all of this, and I feel lucky that I can start to build my EQ at such a relatively young age for an oblivious INTP like me.
    Thank you again for this article!

  • J
    Reply

    Thanks for the detailed article, it’s very insightful and through my own experience, I can say it is very accurate. As an INTJ, I wish I could have learned to appreciate the usefulness of my feelings at an earlier age. It was only when things got bad enough that I was frequently thinking of suicide that I went to counseling and was finally able to deal with a mass of buried feelings that I didn’t want to acknowledge that I had. For so long I had admired the “rational, logical” sorts of characters in movies and TV shows that I had tried to be like them, and it was hard to admit I am not. Once I found my Enneagram type (4), I was finally able to understand myself and accept myself in a way I couldn’t before, even though I’ve known my MBTI letters from a young age.

    Now, after learning to accept myself as I am, not as I think I should be, and making a significant career shift, I’ve learned that my feelings are like a canary in a coal mine; like you said – they are an indicator that something is off, and I need to stop and figure out what that is and what I need to do to correct the situation. It was initially scary to let myself listen to my feelings, as I always distrusted them and thought they would lead me in a wrong direction. But it turns out they were right, and I’m so much happier now.

    So I’d definitely second this article, and recommend all the Thinker types to consider their feelings as another source of data to consider when making decisions, because they might be picking up on things you can’t see clearly with only logic, but are still real and can have a real impact on your well-being.

  • Chelsea
    Reply

    Hi Jun!
    So sorry for the late response.
    It’s quite normal for most INTPs to have trouble recognizing their own emotions.
    How do you make yourself feel emotions? You’re technically always feeling them because they exist whether you want to access them or not. But maybe I can give you a reframe that will help you access them better.

    Feelings are basically concentrated thoughts. It may not be interesting, but try to ‘decode’ whatever thought process could have spurred a certain emotional response. If you think of it like a puzzle to solve, it might make the process more appealing.

    For some of my INTP friends, meditation, travel and writing have helped them cope in really healthy ways. However, there are hundreds of options that you could choose from, so feel the freedom to explore the possibilities.

    Once a puzzle is solved, the loop is closed. Its lifespan ceases to exist and a new puzzle has the opportunity to be discovered later. Emotions are basically just like this. They have a particular lifespan, oftentimes existing for as little as 8 seconds. But when you suppress them or ‘put off the puzzle’, they linger for hours and sometimes even years later because they haven’t been addressed.

    I hope this analogy makes sense. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Jun
    Reply

    Ah this is very interesting. This is very late, but I had maybe question. I am INTP (I think, hahaha). I have resisted recognizing emotions for long time, and as a piano student in college now I have developed multiple repetitive stress injuries throughout my back, neck, and shiulders. My teacher told me he knows many people who have gotten injured practicing, and that while physical work like stretching or acupuncture helps, almost always those people had something emotional they needed to work through before they could recover. For me though, I do not know how to recognize emotions, and old emotions I know exist I have worked hard to forget for many years. I am worried if I do recognize all the built up emotions I will no longer be able to function. Also I do not want to burden other people with whining or sharing too much, and I am afraid to show anyone emotions. This is maybe too big question, but I was wondering how does person make thenselves feel emotion? Also does the emotion go away after you recognize it? Thank you very much for the article.

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    This article is nonsense. Feelings don’t contain your deepest values or drive self-development because they don’t originate with you, they have NOTHING to do with who you really are, they are energetic chaotic nonsense that appears on the screen of consciousness, caused by something else, for the purposes of manipulation and disconnecting you from and PREVENTING you from experiencing the silence, peace, bliss, and joy of who you really are. For what that something else is, and how to end its manipulation, you would have to read Bryan Kemila’s blog at https://illuminatimatrix.wordpress.com/

    Meditation does not reconnect you to who you really are, it is useless.

    • Chelsea Irish
      Reply

      It’s interesting you feel that way. I used to think the same at first until maturity taught me otherwise. There are times even today when I just don’t buy the premise. In the beginning, it’ll definitely feel like emotions have no use and that will be the largest obstacle to overcome for the long-game of self-development.

      When you are in touch with your feelings and therefore your values, it’s damn near impossible to get manipulated by others. I highly suggest reading the books I listed. They’ll really widen your framework as well as briefly explain just how manipulation works.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article despite your disagreement!

      Chelsea

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