Emotion As A Beacon


It’s probably a combo package of a million facets of being Jenny Ambrose, but I’ll chalk this post up to my being (incredibly, ridiculously) sensitive and incredibly (ridiculously) aware.

 A fairly elementary, bland, and straight forward way to start this fascinating post:  emotion shows up as a response to stimuli– not good or bad, but just simply that: a response.

The feelings– however uncomfortable they might be– are there to serve as a guide for action.

If you’re jealous, it means you or some aspect of you feels (or is behaving) like you could be doing the very thing that triggers your jealousy. Especially if you “would do it better”. That’s the kicker– it’s you saying you want to.

If you’re angry, it is an instant rejection, almost too instantaneous to see the perspective differently. It’s you saying “I know a different way about/around this that is not being addressed or taken seriously!”

But it is my understanding that emotions are only there to point you towards an understanding.

Once that understanding is present, the emotion is no longer ‘necessary’. It’s as if you’d receive ongoing notification alerts for status updates you already noticed hours before. That’d be annoying– and wholly unproductive.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend whose a music instructor was recently venting about a new student.  The student’s on the autistic spectrum, my friend assumes, but the parents never spoke about it directly. My friend, who we’ll call D, goes on to say that the kid is really good, a super nice kid and once you get used to him, is hardly different from any of the other kids– and here’s where it gets good for me–D says:

“I understand why they wouldn’t say anything because they don’t want him getting treated differently, but damn– I wish they would have told me” but the answer was right in his words(— and they usually always are)

IF the parents had said anything to D, he WOULD HAVE treated the student differently without even trying to– or by trying too hard to NOT treat the student differently, D would invariably end up treating the student differently– and all the catch 22’s that would ensue through this line of thinking. Just knowing someone is different– or even sensing someone is different– will cause you to treat them differently.

After D clarified the parent’s position, we were talking about it and he said “Yeah I get it, but I’m still frustrated”.

But it also works the other way too (doesn’t it always?)

A friend of mine from college has been working her way through the grand obstacle course that is freelance design, and we email each other back and forth venting through our latest ills. Last week her email talked through a negative client situation (who doesn’t have those?) , and it was a simple enough issue dealing with intellectual property– but she was treating her own emotions like she was handling it “the wrong way”.

Your emotions (unless you suffer from schizophrenia? maybe?) usually do not let you handle something “the wrong way”– your reactions are your true feelings. You can/should be able to trust them. No you cannot mail a bad client a box of collected dog poop from the neighborhood, but you can use the experience to guide you away from a potential repetition of this experience. That’s a guide towards action, yes?

When I coach or mentor, I always embrace the first reaction and then explore inside of it. Why is this the reaction? What about it causes this reaction? Inside those answers you’ll find a smarter path to take.

Almost 9 months ago, I wrote a post about being hungry for my team: my ideal fit. I think its safe to say I am still actively working on achieving this life goal, but I finally stopped feeling bad about it.

It took me owning all that I was, accepting all that I was not, and deriving that I exist as I do, so there MUST be others that would, at the very least, find what I do useful.

{This will probably actualize into me being a part of various groups, but the verdict is still out– and if there’s one definite thing I am sure of in this life, is that things do not go according to Jenny Ambrose’s plan.}

I used this same logic pattern when 6+ years ago, going through the motions of Single Girl Drama: Woman Fears She Will Die Alone, and here I am happily married to a man who is so perfect for me I actually have to stop myself from telling him “I love you” every 30 seconds.

Having this realization removed any self-doubt I had left, and I haven’t looked back. Why should I? It’s far more comfortable (and blissful) knowing how to process these emotions rather than let the confusion cloud my life.

I see it as a waste of good energy, and I have way too much to do to waste anything good.

Fun Side Note! While doing some image research for this post, I came across this emotions chart showing a counterbalance of emotional experiences. Interesante indeed!

3 thoughts on “Emotion As A Beacon

  1. “Your emotions…usually do not let you handle something “the wrong way”– your reactions are your true feelings. You can/should be able to trust them…”

    Interesting post. I agree that emotions do indeed tell us how we feel in the moment, and that much of the time our intuition and feelings are worth following. But something I’ve learned in trying to be more mindful (I, too, am a highly emotional person) is that feelings are not always the best guide for action – sometimes they can be way off or give us an inaccurate recommendation for next steps. Feelings correspond with what our brain is used to telling us based on patterns of experience in our lives, say traumatic situations or other events that left a long-term impression. For some of us, our brains get used to telling us we feel rejected, uncared for, worthless, etc.

    But feelings are not facts – while we may feel worthless, it does not mean that we are worthless. So to *react* according to feelings isn’t always the best route. If you react to your brain telling you you’re worthless, you might do the opposite of what’s helpful. If someone in your life does something to make you feel scared or anxious, following this feeling may lead you to do something you regret, even though it feels good and right at the time.

    Something I have tried to incorporate more lately is to take a pause, observe what’s happening in a situation, evaluate, and then *respond* (rather than react) to the situation in a more thoughtful manner. It’s about training your brain to reconsider the situation and make a better choice about how to resolve it. It’s a self-awareness skill that’s not easy to practice if you’re not used to it, but it’s totally worth it to try and develop.

  2. I was going to email you, but then I wanted to have balls about this. So here it is: some really intense personal truth awesomeness.

    This comment is so interesting to me in regards to this article, as I was diagnosed with PTSD at 22, with the Dr.’s saying that I had been suffering from it since 12. I’ve finally worked my way through to the other side thanks to a long committed kundalini practice, and a very loving husband, and this article (whether I want it to or not) reflexively stems from this.

    For most of my life, I’d been treated as if I was a very difficult, too intense, “a monster” type of human being that really, nobody would want to be around– let alone be friends with. I became callous, acting through some pretty deep hurts, and would slowly let people in. I don’t particularly consider myself emotional as I am sensitive. I am aware of how I, and others around me, feel pretty much all of the time, whether I want this ability or not.

    Personally, the most painful moments were ones where I flat out rejected my emotions, ignored them, or tried to be someone else because of them. Definitely not the ones where I fought back, said some strong-but-painful truths to someone who needed to hear it, but where I stayed, I accepted, or I mitigated. It is difficult for me to not be this way, but I do understand the perspective you laid out here.

    I’ve also been REALLY misunderstood for a huge majority of my life. Both from my parents, handfuls of teachers from every school– elementary, middle, the four different high schools I went to, and the two colleges I attended, and then extending outward to all of the relationships until I figured my own crap out. I had to learn to ignore other peoples’ projections of me to find out who I am. Even one of the projects I am most proud of, and brings me so much stupid joy its like a gift from the heavens– I was told was stupid, and a waste of time, and who gives a shit? FROM PEOPLE I STILL RESPECT. But, I’ve learned to treat the rejections as my own personal motivator. It’s ridiculous to me when I stand back and count the times I’ve been told I couldn’t, shouldn’t, and had I only been better/taller/happier, I’d be a much better person. I got through this by staying with what made sense to me, and worked within it. Now I actually DO make sense to people– not– and never totally– as I’m not one people can put into a box, but hey. At least people are liking and responding really well to me. In one hand, I have the professor who gave me the “Who Cares, Jenny?!” response, and on the other I have a professor who gets downright irritated when I thank him for the validation & confidence. I’m pretty sure he takes it as ‘fishing for compliments’, but little does he know how hard I’ve had to work to install that confidence into my newly structured internal foundation. Given the two options as to which perspective to follow? I’m going with the one that’s been different than the one I’ve been given my whole life. The acceptance that I AM great at this– regardless of how I may feel when there aren’t as many work inquiries in the inbox, I’ll try and sit in that emotion all day long.

    Feelings are not facts in the way that cats always land on their feet is a fact, but they ARE indicators of more personal facts. Feeling worthless and being worthless is a wonderful example, because no one is worthless– but those feelings correspond to past actions and treatments, so I’d unpack them. Follow that trail of internal experience breadcrumbs, and figure that shit out.

    Again, personally: going to college was the first time since middle school that I had friends in the same physical vicinity. There’s a lot within that that I am purposefully glazing over, but the point of the matter is I’ve known loneliness more often than I’ve known any sort of community. The bulk of my experiences are spent solitarily as I work, “keep busy” or recuperate–but I still endlessly craved that community, and mourned it for years once I grew beyond one of the only ones I knew. Since I was supporting myself through college, I became an insane workaholic trying to be the absolute best designer I could be to get the best job possible. I had taken out 100k$ in loans banking on my love of it, so in my mind, I was just taking the natural steps in becoming a valued designer. Investing in myself while my mother called me every day to drop out, and my father called to tell me how I should be paying some of his bills.

    I love this profession like I love my husband and my purple hair, so I figured “cultivate all of your skills, and you will totally get a job”. WRONG! No matter how hard I worked, or how sparkling I was to interact with, it only worked against me (so I thought)– and I truly felt worthless.

    It would actually spawn some serious depressive episodes where I would claim “EXISTENTIAL CRISIS!! HOW COME I LOVE DESIGN SO STUPID MUCH, AND I’M SOOOOOOO GREAT AT IT, WHY WILL NO ONE WILL HIRE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT IS THIS??????” Cue the personal thunderstorms, the parliament lights & the nonstop SVU marathons, which thanks to kundalini, I see as unrealized spiritual power–and the upset that ensues from ignoring that damn crown chakra and throat chakra imbalance, but I simply wasn’t trusting my own emotions! I was trusting, or trying to trust, other people’s value of my abilities– and when they were unable, it demolished me.

    I flipped that script and started my own business and I finally understood WHY I was never hired– everyone was doing me a damn favor. I was trying too small in order to fit in. Trying to shoehorn myself into a false role for the sense of security– but mainly community. The call to be a part of a community is great, but had I continued to negate my own feelings and personality, I’d have listened to my fearful mother, and gotten a serving job just to be around *somebody* and never fully realizing my potential– or allowing the realms in which I DO belong to fully flesh out naturally.

    What I’ve noticed is that people don’t often search within their feelings. “Why did I have that sort of reaction” “Why DO I feel this way about her/him/that”, it doesn’t really matter the what of it– but having that sort of connection and dialogue with yourself will only make you better– whatever you’re feeling or dealing with.

    Obviously, I don’t think I could have gotten to this place without being more mindful and self reflective, but there is always a path to be taken with these feelings. It’s just.. what you recognize, how you process what you find there, and the actions you take afterward.

    I 100% feel you on the respond and not react, and I had to use that very tactic last week. I had a trying email that came my way and the purpling occurring in my face was prune-level. I first let all of my thoughts out in an eviscerating level of a private text edit, and then I let it sat for 3 hours while my kindness worked itself back in. Then I responded. But girl, let me tell you that my first feelings are more valid than the kind email I sent– and the more I try to ignore them or water them down, the longer they will reside inside of me. I will write them, and just not send them. Or perhaps change the name and write about it in a different setting, but I know it’s going to happen. I know this about myself.

    I figure if I feel this way, perhaps maybe there is some one else wondering why there aren’t many articles that resonate with them? Like how many articles don’t really resonate with me. Maybe my perspective could help someone. Of course the same could be true in the reversal, but I often don’t even consider the negative implications fully trusting that if I go into it positively, chances are mostly good that it will turn out positively– and THAT is something so new to my life that I have never had anyone else bring to me. I’d like to think that I can trust it 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for your intense personal truth awesomeness – I very much appreciate your candor and the opportunity for dialogue. Keep it coming!

    I really like the way you talk about thinking about feelings – seeing them as indicators of personal facts and of one’s own journey and experiences. Using them to your advantage (rather than letting them dictate your life) means understanding them and their origins and context, which of course can be super complicated and obscure sometimes. You are *absolutely* correct that our feelings are 100% valid – if I implied the contrary, I didn’t mean to. What I was going for was more along the lines of yes, feelings are valid, they are part of us and reflect our lives; they’re just not always the best guide for our behaviors and decisions, especially when they feel strong and urgent and inescapable. They can get us into trouble and make our lives miserable when we don’t try and understand them before acting on them. They are a part of us that will always remain there, and they will continue to resurface no matter how mindful we become. That’s where the personal dialogue and connection comes into play. We just have to be observant, practice a lot, and remind ourselves that we get to define ourselves, and that the opinions or actions of others do not shape our existence or our futures.

    “Follow that trail of internal experience breadcrumbs, and figure that shit out.” – thanks for the new mantra!

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