Emotion is something that we are all faced with every day. It really is not an aspect that has an effective language and its study is complex. It is partly complex in that it is not a science in which predictability is the operative principle.
There is no consolidated view of emotional states and how they interrelate outside of the esoteric and arcane traditions. Even modern psychology is limited in its mapping of emotional states and their interrelationships. It is arguable that even if it were possible to interrelate emotions that it would have little value. This may partly arise from the volatility that is contained in emotion. It is still a worthwhile aspect of personal development to better understand emotion.
What makes us angry and when are we compassionate and what makes us find a balance between the two states of being ? When do we rationalize and when do we act more intuitively and are these things that we can or should be in control of ? What makes us want to give and to receive?
Each of these states called emotion that we enter has flux built into it. An emotion is the feeling of change – but also more it is the elements of change that we experience. It thus has a start point and and end point – and somehow we are negotiating between the two (or more) states. Emotions are satisfied when we reach one of the end-states and remain open and unresolved if we never reach a conclusion. A good example of this is the classic stages of grief model that says that we start with anger and work our way through to acceptance. We can however easily get stuck in one of the stages – and somehow people that do get stuck experience massive physical, emotional and spiritual pains in their lives.
Every emotion contains within itself all others. When feeling joy it is because there is an absence of sadness – or maybe the possibility thereof. When feeling reward – it may be because there was no retribution. A feeling of strength will not exist without some sense of weakness. Emotional intelligence or harmony comes when we combine and consider all emotions within the ambit of a situation and build a balanced state. Anxiety and fear are replaced by knowledge. Knowledge gets overridden and informed by enthusiasm and vision. Vision and enthusiasm get tempered by plans and desire. Desire and its related fires gets held in check by justice, gravity and mercy. Mercy leads to compassion that gets destroyed by fear. All of these have a real effect on how people interact with each other and the world and in their extremes these are powerful forces that shape history and our relations with each other and the world.
On the other side emotion is sacrifice – you have to let something go to move onto the next state.
For people that do not deal with emotion there is the belief that emotions are lies and denies you things that you already have – by masking it or hiding it from plain sight. You may feel despair at not having – while if you observe the reality you may see that you have more than you thought you had. Another view to this is that you need to embrace and understand the emotions that you have – but also never to get stuck in one state as it will lead to an unhealthy focus. By focusing on emotions and recognizing why you are feeling that way – you can let go of it more effectively and effectively understand the history and current reality that have brought you to this emotion.
Research has shown that people that are more positive generally have lower stress levels and they live longer. One view is that this is because they are more effective at not getting stuck in one emotional place – as any specific emotion that is carried through over time leads to an amazing amount of stress. Any specific individual emotion, that is left unattended will fester over time and bring harm to its owner. There is an old saying that frustration leads to anger, anger to hate, hate to violence and violence to death. So in each emotion there are levels which needs to be understood. It is much easier to deal with frustration – either remove the irritant or engage with the situation. Hate is once again much harder and death even more.
It is our life’s work to learn to interrelate our feelings and not to get stuck in one emotion. We must also learn that we can become more effective at having and handling emotions and moving between these states of being over time.
It is tempting to think of emotion as something that must be worked on by yourself. It is true that a level of personal mastery in emotion is critical in order to even understand what one is dealing with and to be able to control your emotions. The real challenge comes in that emotions are not created by yourself – but by your relations and interactions with other people. It is thus a perpetual learning journey on the actions and reaction of yourself and other people over time. And while patterns may emerge – there is always an exception to any rule. Some people may respond well to being given praise, with the intent of creating confidence – while others may break down and cry. It may be one way one day, and different the next. This difference is where the emotion is happening. It is the flux and the time that we engage with the changes.
The emotional level of maturity in each of us are is different and the net effect is that the level at which we give and get emotions and emotional support is different. Our reactions to the same emotional stimuli are also at different degrees. What does seem to happen though is that over time there is a normalization between two emotion givers to a state in which there is a balance. If your first reaction is to not like someone – given enough interaction, over time, there is a natural adaptation and we all see some aspect of other as positive, or in a more positive way. Time also seems to degrade emotions and tend to get emotions stuck again. If you had an impression of someone a long time ago – until you interact with them again – it seems that the emotion surrounding that person gets stuck. It is amazing to see how fast emotions can unravel when people interact again after a long time.
While most of these aspects above deal with how to re-act to emotions there is a whole study that can be made on how to create and be pro-active about emotional control. The creation side of emotion is a massive aspect of the daily lives of people in creative industries. Creating fear, skepticism, procrastination, blame, perception of weakness and retribution is the mainstay of many industries. Increasingly there are industries focused on peace, balance, introspection, strength, action orientation, morality.
So it seems that there are some things that can be learnt about emotions and that the language of emotions may have some terms that need to be understood a bit better.
Some practical steps will include:
Mapping your emotional range:
Make a list of emotions that you experience often.
Make a list of emotions that you do not experience often.
Why do you experience some of these more often than others.
Which ones do you want to experience more of and which ones less.
What are some of the aspects that you will need to focus on to experience these more or less. What practical things can be done to start influencing these emotions.
(Search Google for Chart of Emotions or List of Emotions if you are looking for inspiration).
Exploring an emotion
Ask yourself to describe the emotion that you are feeling.
Document it or find some way to express it (i.e. paint it, draw it or some say it out loud, talk to someone about it). Don’t hurt anyone while expressing it.
When is this emotion stronger or weaker and what triggers it to become stronger.
In which situations does it occur more often.
What emotion precedes it and what follows it.
Can you react differently to the emotion that precedes it?
Can you react differently to the emotion that follows it?
Releasing an emotion
Emotions are usually motivated from fear, seeking to control others or a situation or seeking approval from others or security in a situation. What are you looking to achieve with your emotion?
Is there another way to achieve the same outcome? If there something that can be done or actioned to move towards achieving your goal with the emotion. You may be shouting at people because you want them to stop wasting your time. This may come from a feeling that you want control of your finance. Your answer is the emotion comes from wanting lots of money, in order to feel that you have security. By shouting at them you feel that you are controlling the situation. If you focus on security – you may see that you need to spend more time with your family, shout less at people, start studying so that you can improve your CV and apologize to those that you were shouting at. Often the emotion blinds you to the real situation.
What are you stuck on ? Can you at least think of the possibility that there may be another way to experience this whole situation. To achieve this – look at a time in which you did not have this emotion. Also – imagine what it would be like if you did not have to spend so much time feeling this emotion – what are some of the other things that you could be doing.
By releasing an emotion you free a lot of energy and it is important to channel this energy constructively
It is tempting to gloss or paint over emotions. It does not help to hide behind pain, fear, disgust, sadness, anger, pride, hate, regret, spite and injustice or one of the several negative emotions, or grades thereof that we feel. It is absolutely critical for our physical, emotional and general health as humans on this planet to explore and release these emotions in order to be better human beings. The energy so released makes it much easier to focus on positive emotions.
The joy is that we can become more emotionally aware and adept daily and that every step that we take this daily in many aspects of our live and that every emotion that we deal with gets us one step closer to being a better person.