In her book, The Faraway Nearby, Solnit writes, "If the boundaries of the self are defined by what we feel, then those who cannot feel, even for themselves, shrink within their own boundaries, while those who feel for others are enlarged and those who feel compassion for all beings must be boundless.”
Therefore, feeling defines the parameters of our self, and by knowing our feelings and experiencing them our boundaries expand. By avoiding or repressing them, we shrink. Feeling is a muscle. As such, it either weakens (can only feel a little/ numbness) or strengthens (can feel a lot - are aware of your feelings, know what you are feeling and why). It is not static at all. Feeling, experiencing emotions, is a large part of human life, and is a vital life line for health and wellness. Self awareness, and inner emotional intelligence grow through the process of getting to know oneself and become the foundation for developing emotional intelligence, intra-personal skills, and much more.
Developing emotional intelligence and self-awareness goes hand-in-hand with developing a relationship with emotions through experience of feeling; our choice to feel and experience the unseeable but knowable realm of human emotions determines whether our feeling muscle is decaying or strengthening, whether the boundaries of our self are contracting or expanding.
As we go down the path of experiencing feelings and becoming emotionally intelligent it is inevitable that we will encounter pain, and pain serves a purpose, for what you cannot feel you cannot take care of. In time unprocessed pain numbs our psychic and physical senses, lessons our capacity to experience life and our ability to live it. It is important to feel pain and work through it, to purge oneself of it; else wise these unprocessed experiences (and their feelings) create blockages, preventing one from living, and being in the present. They become deadweights on the soul, and this build up casts shadows, outward from your perspective, onto what you see, polluting your perceptions with all types, shapes and sizes of distortions.
While this life wisdom is widely agreed upon, in the face of painful emotions why do we still freak out, avoid them and in extreme cases even cut off, numb or by whatever means necessary, detach from feeling? Emotional pain does (sometimes) hurt and can appear very threatening, but what is it about emotional pain, and painful emotions that scare us so? My best answer is it's the unknown. Painful emotions appear to be just the beginning, the first few steps on a path that leads to greater suffering and unknown depths (and these emotions already hurt!). Therefore, we turn off the path and avoid it all together. But we all know this doesn't really help anything.
Life is a process, not a product, and emotions and feelings are transient. So, in the face of emotional distress and unpleasant emotions it is best to allow them to come up, to let them arise. By doing so, just allowing the feeling, you begin to release it.
What is ordinarily imagined as disintegration is also, or instead, metamorphosis. All stories have an end, but in life endings are new beginnings.