Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Show your emotions!
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Are you emotionally moved when you hear “Amazing Grace?” Do tears well up in your eyes when you sing the National Anthem? Do you feel a bit of righteous anger when you hear about another senseless act of violence?
Thankfully, these emotions remind us that we are human and that we have a deep sense of connection to situations bigger than ourselves. Truly poor is the person who can walk through life without sensing the attachment to tender moments, to awe-inspiring messages, to horrific images or to meaningful symbols of history.
What is it about emotions evoked by outside triggers that can cause the strongest man to weep, the most innocent child to laugh out loud or the haggard, weary person to experience euphoric emotional highs?
Emotions do indeed “prove” our humanity and are true gifts that enhance our everyday life experience. Let’s examine a few notable fun facts about emotions …
- Real Men (and Women) Cry! Thankfully, we are moving past the notion that it is considered “weak” to emote. Hogwash! Sometimes, the greatest strength on display is one who can express the deepest inner emotion overtly and not feel the need to stifle or excuse it.
- Emotions are Contagious! When one exhibits a spontaneous facial reaction to an emotion felt, it has been proved that those around that person have been caught mimicking the emotion unconsciously! Watch for it. If you see someone’s face register laughter, you are apt to smile watching it. If you are experiencing some tearful moment, look around and you most likely will see someone nearby who has a pained expression on their face as well.
- We Have a “File Cabinet” of Memories in our Brain! Both positive and negative, experiences from the past can trigger emotions, sometimes when we least expect it. A certain smell or song can evoke a memory of days gone by; sometimes those memories are painful and other times they are positive and nostalgic. Furthermore, an experience in the present can open that “file cabinet” and associate an emotion of a similar experience from the past with the current one even though they might not be related. Surely, the reactions we experience from an unexpected trigger can amuse us, confuse us, enthuse us or infuse us with emotion! It’s what’s being alive is all about!
- Emotions Reflect Our Hearts! Are you tender-hearted? Good for you! Are you easily moved, even when watching a complete stranger experience an intense emotion? Good for you! Are you nostalgic? Yay! Good for you! Don’t be afraid to be THAT person — the one who freely emotes and experiences the moment without hesitation or excuse!
- And Ultimately … Emotions are endorsed by the God of the Universe!
- Jesus loved and was/is lovable! (Mark 10:21); (John 11:5); (Mark 6:56)
- Jesus was joyful and happy! (Luke 10:21); (Luke 15:5-6)
- Jesus was angry! (Matthew 21:12-13); (Mark 8:33)
- Jesus felt exasperation! (Mark 10:13-15); (Mark 8:11-13)
- Jesus felt pity! (Mark 6:30-32); (Matthew 14:22-32)
- Jesus felt sorrow! (Matthew 26:38)
- Jesus felt fear! (Matthew 26:39); (Matthew 26:42)
- Jesus felt fatigue and weariness! (John 4:6)
- Jesus cried! (Luke 19:41-44); (John 11:35); (Hebrews 5:7)
So, go ahead! Allow the joy, tenderness, painfulness, exaltation, frustration of the moment escape with emotion! You are alive … and your emotions tell you so in a very remarkable way!