Mind: What Are Emotions?

   Emotions are considered to be complex experiences that affect both mind and body whilst at the same time having an internal (biochemical) and external (environmental) impact on an individual. Our emotions also involve an impact upon the body which are manifested in behaviour and mood. Other factors influencing our emotions are mood, temperament, personality, disposition and motivation. Whilst motivation provide direction and impetus to behaviour, emotions, give either positive or negative expression to motivation.

Simply defined, emotions are signals which point to our internal needs: consequently, happiness or sadness, fulfillment or lack of fulfillment would indicate the extent to which our needs are being met. In addition, emotions are not always reliable and can sometimes be affected adversely and by internal or external factors that occur unexpectantly such as the behaviour of others, illness or trauma.

Groups of Emotions
Although we have a wide spectrum of emotions, they can be categorised into 4 main groups as follows:
  1. Happiness- this includes other positive emotions such as: satisfaction, wellbeing and joy. These emotions suggest that we perceive that our needs are being met. These emotions can be transient or occur for a period of time.
  2. Fear- these emotions include worry, anxiety, and insecurity which suggest that there is a degree of uncertainty concerning our needs being met.
  3. Anger- other emotions are irritation, frustration, rage, bitterness and resentment which often materialise when our needs are not being met. Anger is a common response when our needs are being obstructed by people or situations.
  4. Sadness- which is grouped together with feeling down, low, melancholic or depressed (does not include clinical depression). This emotion can often be caused when our aspirations are not being fulfilled.
When Emotions Become Negative
Emotions that are negative have a tendency to overshadow those that are positive. We can see from the list above, we have a greater likelihood of being exposed to negative emotions than those that are positive. Negative emotions are most likely cause of relationship difficulties and misunderstanding.

Response to Negative Emotions:
The 3 main ways that an individual can respond to negative emotions are as follows:
  1. Repression- to hold back
  2. Suppression- to restrain
  3. Expression- to let out
Whilst there is no ideal approach to responding to emotions that are difficult to experience, the most effective way to manage them is to acknowledge that they exist and to manage their effects in our lives in constructive ways.

The Role of Negative Thinking
Negative emotions sometimes originate from negative thoughts which we can distort and exaggerate. When we underestimate these negative thoughts, the impact upon our emotional wellbeing can be quite upsetting. Research suggests that of the 55,000 or so words that make up our daily thoughts, over 3 quarters are considered to be negative.

In our interactions, we can also contribute to negative thinking and consequently emotions, when we transfer our negative expectations to one another. The extent to which we focus upon negative influences around us will ultimately contribute to negative thinking and lead to negative emotions.

Dealing With Negative Emotions
As soon as we encounter a resurgence of negativity, one of the first things we can do is to ascertain the source of emotion by asking what need is being blocked, uncertain or unobtainable. The ability to challenge and reject negative thought patterns and false beliefs which generate negative emotions is an important aspect of testing their validity. The earlier we identify erroneous thoughts and emotions, the greater the chance we have of correcting them.

(source: © hopecalls.org)

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