Acceptance of Our Emotions is Key to Progress

written by Nathan & Kelli

“We think in language. The quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language.” — George Carlin

We came across this quote a while ago. It contains truth. As we work to increase our vocabulary, improve our grammar, or work to improve our grasp of language in other ways, our ability to communicate will improve, as will our ability to think.

But, as we continued to ponder this thought. We realized that although language is important, there are other, even more important skills that will allow us to improve the quality of our thoughts and ideas.

For example logic. Logic allows us to accept, and just as importantly reject, ideas based on sound reasoning. Critical thinking skills will teach us to be more aware of our biases. Our ability to think logically will improve the quality of our thoughts and ideas.

But no amount of logic, no amount of language skills, will make up for an inability to accept and deal with our emotions.

Emotion affects our ability to think, for good and for bad. Emotion is human, we can’t and shouldn’t avoid it, instead we need to embrace it. Our ability to accept emotional discomfort allows us to make decisions from a place of peace, not fear.

Fear of emotion will shut down our willingness to wrestle with a thought.

Fear of emotion will shut down our ability to have a difficult discussion with a friend or colleague.

Ignoring emotion will cause us to make decisions that we are unable or unwilling to live with. This one is important, and we are sorry to have buried this in the middle of the article, so let us repeat it. Ignoring emotion will cause us to make decisions that we are unable or unwilling to live with.

Embracing emotion allows us to recognize all the conflicting emotions that a particular thought evokes within us. Understanding and processing those emotions, from a place of peace, allows us to make better decisions.

Embracing our emotions will allow us to make decisions that we can love and live with, now, and in the future.

Our brain is an amazing tool. It is constantly coming up with new thoughts and ideas, suggestions for what we should think and do. But if we are not emotionally healthy, we can’t handle these new thoughts. We immediately reject anything difficult, for fear we will fail. We immediately reject anything contradictory, for fear we were previously wrong. We immediately reject anything unfamiliar, for fear of the unknown. We are blocked from moving forward.

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As a result, if we are scared of emotional discomfort, we are stuck with our current thoughts. That doesn’t mean they are bad, it just means we are stuck where we are. We can’t explore and find the ideas that can make us better than we are today. Over time we become more and more closed off, and rigid, and afraid.

The solution, recognize that an emotion can’t hurt you. Not really. It’s just a feeling. That doesn’t mean it’s not important. It’s communicating something to you. But the emotion itself can’t hurt you. The paradox is that, even though it can’t hurt you, ignoring the emotion can.

Practice accepting your emotions. When you feel an emotion, instead of rushing to do something else, stop and see if you can name the emotion you are feeling. You can practice mindfulness. You can practice meditation. You can practice praying and telling God about how you are feeling. You can see that in almost all of these situations, slowing down is an important step.

Avoiding emotion stops you from seeing the problems and mistakes in your life, and fixing them. Avoiding emotion stops you from reaching for your dreams.

Emotional health, being at peace with ourselves, is a critical starting point to improving the quality of our thoughts and ideas. Then we can start working on improving our language, logic, and other skills.

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The purpose of “The Couple Project” is to learn more about what makes a strong marriage or relationship. We share what we are learning, which ideas we are trying, and which ideas helped improve our relationship. We realize not everything that works for us will work for you, but we still hope you will find our journey valuable.

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