What’s next on my schedule?

An essay about why it's important to process our emotions in between scratching off items on our daily to-do lists.

We go through life going to the next item on our agenda — the next meeting, phone call, class, hair cut — but seldom do we reflect back on the continuous rounds of emotions we encounter in our daily lives. I talked to a few different people about this topic, and after multiple conversations, I noticed that a lot of us do not give our emotions enough acknowledgement that it deserves — which brings me to write this article.

Acknowledging your emotions is vital to having a clear headspace, because when you acknowledge what you feel, you let that emotion free, and you allow yourself to be more aware of your true self.

We often fixate on feeling two umbrella emotions every known to mankind – philosophers have talked about it, the 50-billion-dollar film industry illustrates it, and we recognize it when we feel our chests get a little tighter, or those fuzzy feelings in our stomach we call “butterflies,” and those emotions are none other than pleasure and pain. Something either makes us happy, or it makes us sad. However, seldom do we go searching for meaning behind those vast emotions, and rightfully so, why would knock on every emotion at our doorstep – searching for meaning behind every emotion would consume us and exhaust us – and yet that is exactly what happens.

We quickly put our feelings into a category — good, or bad, and that’s that — it stays in that jar until we decide, that someday, maybe, when we feel like it — we can process it then. We have this instinctual habit to put our feelings into the back burner, because feelings can be uncomfortable, triggering, and even when it’s good — we are afraid of it being taken away.

If there is one thing we all love – its categorization. Putting everything into a system, an order, a mental bank that helps us store and understand complex realities, so it is only natural we gravitate towards it.

Medical professionals do it when they categorize you by your age, weight, race, lifestyle patterns, family history, and assess your predispositions and risks from thereon. Every survey you have taken has some sort of inquiry about your demographics in efforts to categorize you. Horoscopes, they categorize you, and although most of us find them silly, we still find some innocent joy of reading it from time to time.

Trying to simplify the reality around us results in categorization. However, when we take on that feat with our emotions, it results in an unhealthy experience because we do not dissect what is beyond those feelings of pain and pleasure.

We let it sulk us — it is the invisible weight we shoulder, the strain behind our eyes, the “I’m fine,” the knot in our stomach we can’t explain, and we continue to act on things we never want to talk about.

If you feel emotional pain, there is a reason for it — some component of an interaction, triggered a painful emotion for you. However, learning to understand the reason behind by that emotion is critical to your well being. Under pain, among many other feelings, there is often ambivalence, uncertainty, perplexity, ambiguity, frustration. Associating any of those feelings, among endless others — to your experiences —may help you start to understand where your pain stems from, and once you attuned knowledge of the roots, you can then begin to address it.

Something has thrown off the order into chaos, even on a molecular level — and that something is causing you to be unhappy.

The same applies for pleasure. Have you ever heard people say, “I just feel so happy today, I don’t know why!” Undoubtedly, there are chemicals responsible for happiness, but apart from our anatomy, there are associations and correlations our brain is making without our conscious knowledge of it.

For example, to explain this in the simplest terms, I was walking down the street the other morning and I genuinely felt a sense of joy. I looked around me and there was sunshine, it was still cold, but the nice kind of cold. People were running, there was just the right amount of wind chill – that morning seemed to hold more speed and energy than the last two weeks when the skies were overcast, it was brutality cold outside and people tended to keep to themselves. In that moment, I understood why I felt so happy – in contrast to the last few weeks, that morning was literally, and figuratively bright. And had I not dedicated a few short moments to think why I felt happy, I would never have known about the smallest things that bring me joy.

We contrast our experiences on a relative manner, we contrast it with what has been, and hold it on reserve to compare it with what is next. If you have been hurt by people or experiences before, then you know how high you build your walls and guard yourself for the present – and thus, you are once again, contrasting your past to your present.

We structure and understand our reality in comparison.

There is a reason behind our happiness and our pain. Behind our anger outburst are the piled emotions of resentment, uncertainty, ambivalence, frustration, hopelessness, and behind our sweet emblems are the feelings of being loved, acknowledged, appreciated, hopeful, excited, etc.

The words we scribe to our experiences shape our reality for us, and they stem beyond the umbrellas of pleasure and pain. Learning to dissect those terms to analyze the sentiments that cause you feel a certain way is vital to understanding your inner self more concretely.

Those sentiments are clues to understanding the workings of our inner psyche —clues that guide us on a path of higher self of awareness, and with awareness comes empowerment, and an opening that says “Where do we go from here?”

    The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    Playing emotional whack-a-mole is a dangerous game

    by Ruth Kao Barr

    A Clinical Psychologist Explains the Best Way to Deal With Intense Emotions

    by Beth Kurland, Ph.D.

    Navigating the Seas of Our Emotional Lives

    by Erin Warhol

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.