What Are Emotions Anyways?
What are emotions?
We are emotional beings. But let me ask you a simple question.
What Are Emotions?
Stop reading and see if you can answer the question. Don’t take more than a couple of seconds to think about it.
If you are like most of my readers and students, the question is a little confusing. You think you know the answer, but when you are asked to define emotions, your mind goes blank. If that happened to you, welcome to the group. Almost everyone is stumped by this one. After all, we experience emotions all the time; shouldn’t we know what they are?
The problem is not your fault. You simply were never taught the definition of emotions. We’ll fix that problem in the rest of this post.
So here is the most intelligent definition of emotions I have found:
Emotions are defined as biologically based patterns based on experience, education, and culture.
They are cognitive constructs that we create in our brains, starting at about 18 months of age.A cognitive construct is a pattern of experience or perceptions that we store in our memories for future use. Emotions are patterns that are based on our biology, physiology, experience, language, memory, and culture.
All information we receive is processed first through emotions. Emotions motivate us, restrain us, defend us, and protect us. Unfortunately, for 4,000 years, western philosophers and theologians have told us that emotions are bad, weak, they make us vulnerable and exploitable and they are even evil.
Most people take emotions for granted and give them little thought other than when emotions become intrusive.
However, we are 98% emotional and only 2% rational. So it makes sense that we should understand what emotions are so that we can honor and master them. Not learning about and mastering emotions means that you are leaving 98% of who you are on the table. You are not fully present with 100% of yourself. This leads to pain, suffering, and unnecessary relationship difficulties.
We Are Not Born With Emotions
We are not born with emotions, we have to create emotions. Creating emotions is part of the process of growing up, and if it is blocked, you don’t mature emotionally. Think about how many people you have met who are physically adult, but emotionally childish. Their emotional development stopped when they were young and they became emotionally stuck at that age.
Our emotional development starts at about the time we verbalize.
We Have To Learn What Are Emotions
Emotions are the cognitive constructs that allow us to take affective experience and concretize it into something that we can be conscious of.
So you are wondering, “What is affective experience?” Yeah, it’s neuroscience geek-speak. Let me translate. We are born with affect, which are feelings of pleasantness and unpleasantness that we experience. As babies, we smile and coo when we feel good we cry when we feel bad. Those feelings of contentment and distress are called basic affect. They are not emotions.
To create emotions, we take our basic affect and, like an artist’s palette or a chef’s recipe, mix it different combinations to come up with different colors or flavors of emotions. This is a life-long learning process.
We’re not self-aware of affect, but we can become self-aware of emotions. Knowing what are emotions gives you a tremendous advantage over people who don’t know what emotions are.
Emotions Provide Understanding About What’s Going On Around Us
Knowing what are emotions and what are not allows us to look around and look for cause and effect. What has caused me to get so angry? If I didn’t know what emotions are, I wouldn’t be able to determine what was making me angry.
Knowing what emotions are allow me to communicate to other people that I’m angry, and that’s very powerful. If all I had was affect, then I have to rely on automatic programming. I can’t communicate anything about what I’m experiencing. This is why people experience, “I’m so mad, I could put my fist through a wall.” They haven’t been able to transform the core affect of anger into an emotion they can process because they don’t know what emotions are. 12 Powerful Benefits of Emotional Awareness
Not know what emotions are is really a lack of emotional self-awareness, and it’s a reaction to a strong, affective state. You are feeling so strongly you can’t manage, understand, or process any of it. The only way you relieve yourself of the discomfort is through violent physical action, denial, suppression, or addiction (work addiction, exercise addiction, food addiction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, etc.). I meet so many people that suffer from their inability to know what are emotions, to not manage their strong emotions, and to run from the strong emotions of others. Lack of emotional awareness seems to normal. You don’t have to be that way, however. How to Honor Your Emotions With This 1 Powerful Tool
The good news is that you can learn what are emotions and become emotionally self-aware, no matter how badly you think you are with emotions. Our brains are hard-wired to be emotional and to respond to emotions. All you have to do is learn some simple, counter-intuitive skills, and your life will be transformed. To learn more, check my Developing Emotional Competency Course here.
Source : Youtube
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