Nonviolent communication introductions - I organize them twice a year - are always an inspiration because I am reminded of my feelings and their importance. "Suck it up," "you know better," or simply, "come on......" are an indication of our culture's disregard for feelings. What are we promoting when we tell our toddler who just fell, "oh, it's nothing, shhhhh, don't cry?" Our children learn to ignore their feelings because they don't get acknowledged, and we perpetuate that they don't matter, so we learn that it's better to ignore them.
When you first get introduced to compassionate communication a light bulb goes on about how few feeling words you have at your disposition to express properly what you feel. We don't have many feeling words because we don't feel much as a culture. Reading a cue sheet from the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication is eye opening, or better, feeling opening. All kinds of words for states of emotions exist that we are not using, because nobody else does either.
Feelings can be so helpful when you understand their function better. When you are alive you have needs. You need food and shelter, love and acceptance, creativity and comfort, clean air and rest, to name just a few needs. Needs, as our trainer last Saturday clarified, are the essence of life. When there are no needs, there is no life. Feelings indicate how much or how little our needs are being met. Feelings are a gauge. When I feel hungry, my need for food is arising and needs to be met so I can be content and satiated. When I'm fearful, my need for safety or security is not being met, and I need to do something about it unless I want to perpetuate the crummy feeling. When I am elated, my need for self-realization is fully met. Feelings are our life essence - no feelings, no life.
Some people are truly unaware of their feelings, they've become numb from all the pain, and unacknowledged and unmet needs in their life. Feelings help us navigate life. They are indicators or guideposts along our journey. Heed them.