top of page

Emotions As Signals

Oftentimes, emotions are viewed as positive or negative emotions. People often focus more on positive emotions as they want to feel good all the time. People also tend to neglect or ignore “negative emotions” because they make them feel uncomfortable.

However, all emotions are signals to us. Emotions indicate to us when our needs are not being met. If people paid more attention to their emotions, they would heed the signals emotions send out more consistently. Emotions as signals indicate to us needs that need to be addressed. When people take the time to address these unmet needs, their quality of lives would increase.

Positive and Negative Emotions

People often regard positive emotions as more acceptable and appropriate. In our social media and highlight reel world, positive emotions are even more revered now more than ever. Emotions that cause us to feel happy, excited, and positive are consistently shared and talked about more. However, emotions that make us feel sad, distressed, or anxious, tend to be avoided and not discussed.

Yet, all emotions indicate to us how we are feeling inside. They indicate when our emotional, social, and relational needs are not being met. Additionally, when situations occur that make us uncomfortable, people often cling to anger as anger can feel empowering. Feeling vulnerable is rarely celebrated or acknowledged. Rarely do we dig below the anger to learn what other feelings may be present.

Consequently, we tend to water our feelings down. We tend to acknowledge one feeling at a time when this is often not the case. We feel multiple feelings as we are often receiving multiple stimuli at once. For example, if someone said something mean to you, you may feel sad because the words hurt, you may feel angry because you feel offended, you may feel rejected because you feel left out, and you may feel confused as to why this person was being mean to you in the first place. As demonstrated, there are a number of emotions present at once.

Primary and Secondary Emotions

Anger is often the first thing we feel when we experience “negative emotions.” Many people fear anger because of the many societal lessons about projecting anger onto others. However, anger is a normal emotional response to stimuli. What we actually fear is expressing our anger in hurtful ways.

As noted above, anger can often feel empowering so we will cling to that feeling more than we will hold onto feeling vulnerable. To appropriately address our anger, we need to hold space for vulnerability. When we can sit with our vulnerability, we can look below the anger to examine the other emotions which are present.

While anger is often the first emotion we cling to, it is, in fact, the secondary emotion. This means that it is masking our primary emotion. In the example above, while anger is present, you will notice other emotions including rejection, sadness, and confusion are also present. If we allowed space to sit with the feelings and the experience, we may be able to connect to a deeper emotional experience that could facilitate a much deeper healing in our lives. This type of emotional experience could transform our relationships.

For example, if we noticed a connection in situations where we feel rejected, we may learn that we often lash out in anger. This signal indicates a pattern of behavior. Further exploration of this emotional experience may indicate that a fear of rejection exists from a primary relationship (for example with a parent). Hence, whenever we feel rejected, we connect that feeling and experience to the rejection we feel from a parent, and to avoid feeling vulnerable, we lash out in anger to protect ourselves. Reading these emotional signals create awareness and understanding which now creates the space for healing and growth.

In Summary

To facilitate healing in your life, you must be willing to create space for emotions. Emotions are not linear. And consequently, healing is not linear. However, emotions indicate to you the needs that need to be addressed, and thereby, presents opportunities for healing and wholeness.

When we take time to process our emotions, we will learn that we experience multiple feelings that reflect our emotional experiences to us. Accepting both our primary and secondary emotional experiences allow us to make space to connect our overall emotional experiences. When we accept the interconnectedness of our emotional experiences, we can make room for holistic growth and healing which improves our relationships.

If you need a safe space to process your emotional experience, connect with me today for a 15-minute consultation.

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page