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home : opinion : opinion/editorial July 26, 2017

7/12/2017 3:46:00 PM
Room for a View: Emotional Maturity
By Charles Wilkinson

Life without feelings is not living. We (well, most of us) are not Star Trek Spocks. Rationality may get us through whatever faces us, but without feelings life would be like flat beer.

Nothing speaks the truth of self- more clearly than honest, clear feelings. Our minds can provide countless hiding places for who we really are, but our emotions render us naked. Tell me what you are thinking, and I will know what you know or sense what you may not know. Tell me what you are feeling, and then I will meet the truth of your character.

 Our emotions, when we listen to them, can teach us much about ourselves. Love, fear, anger, jealousy, frustration, joy, loneliness, all and more hold lessons for bettering self and understanding others. Self is the primary textbook for how to be human and make the most of it. Unfortunately, too many of us do not take the time to read it.

Its chapters on emotions, first of all, require that we be aware of our feelings, admit them and listen to what they are telling us. Do not deny or bury them. When we deny them we lie to ourselves; when we bury them, we bury them alive. Many alcoholics and other addicts learn that the hard way.

Second, honesty and often courage are necessary for naming emotions correctly. Depression can be a misleading label for anger, fear or shame; anger the same for jealousy or resentment. The principle that applies here is that we need to name feelings accurately so we can deal with and learn from them.

Third, we need to control our feelings, not let them control us. By themselves they are neither good nor bad. We make them good or bad by what we do with them. Emotional maturity is measured by our ability to control and manage our feelings. Sadly, far too often their intensity sabotages our rational selves so that anger becomes rage and fear becomes paralyzing depression. Even emotions like love can get distorted, take control and cause ugly trouble.

Life is a gift that begs for meaning and fulfillment. The human experience is meant to be a journey toward wholeness. Our feelings can render that journey exciting or tragic and everything in between. Intelligence and maturity are essential for a good life. Along the way, what we feel and what we learn from our feelings can enrich and deepen every facet of that gift.

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