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12 Reasons to Pay More Attention to Your Feelings

4. You'll care less about what other people think.

Key points

  • Emotions are such an internal and integral part of our lives that it can be easy to just ignore them.
  • Yet our feelings are an expression of our deepest selves that can be very helpful when we listen.
  • From motivation and mindfulness to decision-making and authenticity, much can be gained from simply paying attention to your feelings.

A large segment of the population lives in mortal fear of being asked a dreaded question: “What are you feeling?”

It’s usually an innocent enough query, often delivered with care or concern by a spouse or well-meaning friend. But if you grew up in a family that ignored or discounted your feelings (childhood emotional neglect), this question can feel almost like an accusation or challenge.

That’s because when you grow up with emotional neglect, you may learn that your feelings are irrelevant and burdensome. And you may not get to learn some very important skills, such as how to name your feelings, put them into words, and manage or share them.

Of course, there are times when emotions are clear and easy for most people. When it’s your wedding day, you’re attending the funeral of someone you loved, or you’re involved in a disaster or traumatic event, your emotions are at the forefront. And when you have a strong emotion, like pure joy or deep pain, it’s easy to pinpoint what you are feeling.

But you don’t experience significant events every day of your life. And yet you still have emotions within you, even on the most mundane of days. You are a feeling person by design, your brain and body are wired this way. Your feelings give you invaluable information that provides you with a roadmap for how to live your life.

If you wish you didn’t have to feel your feelings, you are not alone. But it’s important to know this: Your emotions are the essence of who you are. They help you to know and trust yourself, connect and motivate you, and assist you in finding meaning to make sense of the world. In order to live a fulfilling life, you need to feel.

Below you will find some reasons why noticing your feelings can be such a powerful help to you. Think about yourself as you’re reading this list. Pause, pay attention, and let your feelings operate as they were meant to do.

12 Ways Noticing Your Feelings Will Improve Your Life

  1. You will live life in the present moment. When you ask yourself “what am I feeling?” it places you into the here and now. You become oriented to what’s going on inside of you and around you and are no longer distracted or disconnected.
  2. You’ll grow to be more self-aware. Your feelings are the most profound expression of who you are. When you are able to pause and direct your attention toward what you are feeling, you are helping your brain connect to your body. This process allows you to tap into your inner world, become integrated, and eventually identify what you need. Knowing what you feel, want, and need is how you truly know yourself.
  3. You will make decisions that better suit you. When you attend to your feelings, you will soon uncover what you like or dislike, what you’re passionate about, and what makes you enraged, excited, sad, joyous, amused, and so on. Your emotional responses to what’s happening around you will guide you to make decisions that align with who you are.
  4. You’ll care less about what other people think. It’s common to doubt yourself when you are out of touch with how you feel, or when you don’t value what your emotions are telling you. With self-doubt, you’re more vulnerable to the voices and opinions of others. When it comes right down to it, the only person that truly knows what’s best for you is yourself.
  5. You’ll feel more connected to others. When you push down your feelings, you push down your sense of self. This makes it hard for other people to know and connect with the real you.
  6. You will be experienced by others as more authentic and genuine. Take a moment to think about someone you admire. Why do you admire them? We tend to admire those who know who they are. Their behaviors, demeanor, choices, and communication align. If you understand and embrace what’s going on internally, the external world will notice.
  7. You’ll get better at setting limits with others. When your emotions are understood and managed, you can better separate your feelings from others’ feelings. Emotional awareness creates an invisible boundary between you and others that allows for healthy relationship boundaries.
  8. You will be in control of your emotions rather than your emotions controlling you. The more you try not to feel, the more you’ll feel powerless over your emotions. When you can name what it is that you’re feeling, process it, and figure out what to do next, you hold the power. Without this awareness, your emotions, and perhaps even your life, may feel unruly.
  9. You’ll feel energized. Emotions are energy inside of you. Imagine being angry for just a second. Did you recall that whooshing sense inside of you, driving you to take action? That’s what all emotions are meant for: guiding and motivating you to do something.
  10. You will have more direction and motivation. Once you take note of the energy happening inside of you and notice, reflect, and feel, the choices you make will come naturally.
  11. Your physical health will benefit. There is a direct connection between your emotional and physical health. Research shows that pushing down or suppressing your feelings can lead to muscle tension, sleep disturbance, heart disease, hypertension, over- or undereating, and an array of other physical issues.
  12. You will feel more fulfilled with your life. If it’s not already obvious, noticing your feelings has its benefits. You’ll uncover who you are, feel motivated knowing you are your own guide in life, have confidence and ease in making choices, and ultimately feel more connected to yourself and others.

Remember when your parents ignored your feelings? You can now do the opposite of that. You can ask yourself what you’re feeling and then listen to your answer. This is the biggest step in healing your childhood emotional neglect and can make a profound difference in your life.

© Jonice Webb, Ph.D.

Facebook/LinkedIn image: Josu Ozkaritz/Shutterstock


To determine whether you might be living with the effects of childhood emotional neglect, you can take the free Emotional Neglect Questionnaire. You'll find the link in my Bio.

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