RedEye

The power of being emotional

Ever been told you're "too emotional" or "overly sensitive"? Maybe these traits have felt like liabilities, especially in the workplace? According to Leela Francis, author of "Woman's Way Home," these characteristics can be a source of empowerment and should be celebrated.

"We are feeling, empathic, nourishing individuals and we live in a crazy, fast, high-tech world," Francis said. "We are able to deeply love and nurture and care for others and that's what grows humans into healthy adults."

But while it's important to tap into our emotional side, Francis said there's a time and a place for sharing our feelings.

"I think one of the reasons emotionalism has gotten a bad rap is because, while it's important to be able to give ourselves the freedom to feel, it's also important to become a master at choosing how and when to express those feelings," she said. "If we don't master that, then our emotions do leak out in inappropriate ways."

Here are Francis' tips to harness your feelings into a source of power:

Don't dump your emotions on others.

"Nobody has the right to demand that you be the witness to their acting out," she said. "It's like going to the bathroom. This is something that you need to attend to yourself. There's a difference between sharing what you are feeling and the emotional acting out of your emotions. Nobody else is responsible for your emotions but you."

Listen to your body.

Francis said the reason we feel "sick to our stomachs" or have an "aching heart" is because our feelings can be so powerful, they can sometimes cause a physical reaction in the body.

"If we can cultivate a practice of staying with our feelings instead of running away and into our heads, we find we can tolerate those uncomfortable feelings — and as we do that we become more empowered, authentic and more genuinely fulfilled."

Never underestimate the power of an emotional connection.

"What drives people to do destructive things, either to ourselves or to others, is a lack of love, a lack of intimacy, a lack of feeling valued in the world…. More and more people are getting laid off and with stress in the workplace, the personal interactions and relationships you form, that's what wins out. We are all craving genuine, fulfilling heart connections with people. I think it's something we all know but really isn't addressed."

Don't live to please others.

"The most destructive thing we can say to ourselves is 'Who do I have to be in order to be loved?' That's the most destructive thing in the lives of everybody, but especially to women. Intimacy with others can start when we are intimate with ourselves."

jweigel@tribune.com

Twitter: @jenweigel

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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