My Journey to Understanding Emotions

My Journey to Understanding Emotions

Feelings are dumb. At least that's how I feel at the moment.

A chemical response from our bodies that is based on a reaction from our brain. Triggers such as the fight or flight response. Adrenaline is generated and pumped through our bodies as a result of feeling anger, excitement, fear and more. Our emotions can cause our bodies to act in ways that might be contrary to our better judgement. Other times the human body can harness the energy and focus on something more productive.

My experience with emotion could be described as flying blind. I've journeyed through life without understanding my emotions and chosen to bottle my emotions instead of dealing with them head-on. Without question, I've felt strongly about many different things. Strong emotions are not my strong suit. Which has left me unable to name what emotions I'm feeling in the moment. This has caused relationships to deteriorate over time or in some cases implode.

At the stage I'm at in my life, I can no longer look past the raw emotions and store them away. I've decided against it's time to understand how feelings work and learn about myself. What are the emotions I'm feeling? Put a name to the emotion, to help me understand what I am feeling. What is causing me to feel this way? How do I deal with the emotion? Without question, I can 100% say with confidence that I feel very strongly about many different things. I have triggers that will almost certainly cause me to either explode or not to deal with because that would be easier.

The emotions/feelings wheel is a tool that can help to identify what a person could be feeling at any given moment. It's something I've started to use more and more as I understand how I am feeling, at the moment or sometimes after the fact.

Recently I had a life-changing moment. Summer of 2021, yours truly was involved in an adult coed slow-pitch softball tournament. Our team had played all of our regular-season games and finished the round-robin of playoffs. Sunday morning of the tournament rolls around and my stomach was in knots. I'm trying to eat my breakfast, knowing I will need the energy but am struggling with what feels like an upset stomach. My wife asks me why I'm not eating and I explain how I think I am feeling to her. Immediately she makes a comment that didn't make sense to me at first but is making more sense as time goes on. "You don't understand what you're feeling right now?" Given the context of what I've written so far, one would say, "Of course I don't, I just feel sick".

After explaining what I thought I was feeling, my wife explained that what I was feeling was adrenaline. My body was pumping it through my blood because I was excited. I was "pumped" to hit the field and do my best to crush the other team. Today was game day! As an adult who had never played on an organized sports team, I never got the opportunity to feel this way. Very likely over the course of my life I had felt this but never had I understood how my emotions were causing my body to react.

My team hit the field that Sunday and we beat our opponents and moved on to the next step of the tournament. I headed to the dugout after pitching a good game and our team played amazingly. I felt amazing. Within moments my feelings were squashed when I learned that our team did not have enough players to compete in the next game. My teammates had commitments that were more important than F league softball in the middle of summer. The entire season was over in an instant not because we weren't good enough or because we lost. It was over because they had better things to do with their time. To say I was disappointed is a bit of an understatement.

This day was an absolute high for me emotionally. As I mentioned, I had never played on an organized sports team before this team. I had never experienced the feeling of working together as part of a team in a physical manner. I've been part of teams at work or school and worked towards a common goal. I've been part of a team playing games or as a member of a band in school. Working as a group to make beautiful music or win the game. To me, this felt different and I put effort into not letting down my team.

Since that day, it's felt like a crash course in understanding my emotions and it's been at a rocket-speed pace. As I have had moments, where I've felt upset or angry, I've taken time to look at my emotions wheel and name the emotion I'm feeling. I've paid attention to when my stomach has been in knots and think about what's causing me to feel sick. My work has been frustrating, I have a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, all on top of feelings that have probably been built up my whole life.

To me, this is possibly one of the most important things I might ever do for myself. My whole life, I've always felt strong emotions. Once it caused me to punch a hole in the wall(still need to fix it). Other times it's caused arguments with those that I care about. To be able to deal with a situation, I need to understand what I am feeling, what is causing me to feel this way and explain and why I feel the way I do. My journey has only just begun and it's likely something I will be working on for the rest of my life. I'm okay with that as long as I'm doing it healthily and finding positive outlets for those emotions. For now, I can't do anything outside of feel and reflect.

BTW, this is me using the adrenaline to hit a home run. Positive outlet FTW.

Andrew Konken