Emotions Have A Deeper Meaning. Don’t Take Them So Lightly
Our emotions always act in the background, and drive our actions. They are imperative for our social and physical survival.
Diana, a new mother, had been suffering a huge inferiority complex about how she organized herself around different things. The reason was simple – she was undergoing a big transition. Due to the frequent self-blame, low confidence etc, she became pretentious and self-defensive.
Each time her little one would cry, or someone would ask about her new dress, or anything basic, she would start throwing explanations about why she “was’t able to make it perfect”.
Her friends tried to open a chat with her. But her pretensions blocked that solution-oriented conversation to take place.
The explanations made her feel negative each time, and slowly, she started avoiding people.
She was on the verge of slipping into a serious mental illness, when her husband forced her to introspect and identify the problem.
Initially, it turned out hard for her. But, she managed to recognize the fact that — she was subduing her real emotions in every situation. If she was unhappy, she had been refusing to accept it.
Perhaps, she had assumed that accepting negative emotions would make her weak in front of others.
Doesn’t that happen with many of us, as well? We hide our negative emotions and try to escape them somehow?
The reality is, there is never an escape unless we embrace all our emotions and accept the situation. Acceptance doesn’t mean we’re overthrown.
Let’s delve deeper, before we transition into the New Year 2021 and unleash new opportunities to change things within, improve our social and psychological survival and growth.
Why Do We Neglect Negative Emotions?
Our survival is governed by two major factors – our behaviours or actions and decisions. and these two factors are driven by our emotions – both positive and negative ones.
Out of a usual human tendency, we discriminate a lot between our positive and negative emotions. We want to embrace the positive ones and push down the negative ones – without making any effort to even recognise or manage them. Why?
Often a negative emotion takes us to a self-judgment. We feel that we’re going wrong, and so, we bury it all instead of accepting it.
Understand That Emotions Are Never Bad
Perceiving emotions as weakness is a common pitfall. This happens mainly because we associate odd, less acceptable behaviours with strong emotions. A fit of rage, a brawl, a breakdown or a “failed” decision – we’re quick to blame these on emotions, and so we think emotions are “bad.”
The role of emotions in human survival has been debated, though. American behaviorist BF Skinner once said “ emotions are bad for our peace of mind”.
However, this viewpoint was challenged by Dacher Keltner and James J Gross who derived that emotions are important for our “physical or social survival”, and I strongly agree with this fact.
Our emotions drive our physical well-being and social recognition. They can signal us to communicate and understand people, situations and events better, and hence, improve our behavior and performance.
“Emotions prepare us to deal with important
events without having to think about them.” — Paul Ekman
How Emotions Can Help Navigate Better?
Managing emotions and turning them to positive behaviour demands practice.
To become socially recognised or appreciated, you need not sugar coat your expressions. Else, you may end up behaving just as Diana. You need to re-engineer the way you respond to your emotions.
Your increased understanding of emotions – yours and others’ can help cope with events in a positive manner and enhance your survival in a physical world.
For instance, people who experience negative emotions frequently and hence, show anger more often are vulnerable to physical illness. At the same time, they face repulsion from the people around them due to their behaviour.
In such a case, identifying and channelising the triggers and deep rooted emotions that cause anger becomes important. Once you understand those triggers, you begin to mindfully manage them and modify the outcomes- which are socially more acceptable. This is a glimpse of managing a negative emotion.
An emotional self-awareness starts with a constant self-reminder and practice of mindfulness. You need to circle back your attention to identifying your emotions in every situation.
Once you do that, the difference starts reflecting in your communication efficiency, peace of mind, quality of relationships, etc.
Practice the 5 important As as you welcome a new year ahead and aim to perform better in every sphere of your life.
Once this framework becomes a practice for you, it is important for you to measure your command over emotions – that grows gradually. This is where you set higher benchmarks for yourself each time.
Emotions play very important functions and have many beneficial consequences for human growth and survival. Emotions are conveyed both verbally and non-verbally through facial expressions, voices and body movements. Hence, they serve as a signal for communication and information relay to others, and influence our social interactions.
This new year, resolve to manage each of those emotions that trigger unusual or impactful actions.
To learn more on the subject, reach out to me here: email@example.com.
Keltner, D., & Gross, J. J. (1999). Functional accounts of
emotions. Cognition & Emotion, 13(5), 467-480.
Keltner, D. (2003). Expression and the Course of Life: Studies of Emotion,
Personality, and Psychopathology from a Social‐Functional
Perspective. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1000(1), 222-243.