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5 Facts About Emotions to Help You Take Back Control of Your Life.

Most people have it backwards. They think they need to control their emotions to master their lives. The truth is that when you master your emotions, you gain control of your life. Here are some "facts" to help you master your emotions.

Two Important questions:

1. Do you, or someone you know, get angry and do things you later regret?

2. Do you, or someone you know, get anxious and avoid doing something you later wish you had done?

For many people, the answer to both of these questions is YES.

Because of how emotions work, it often feels like emotions such as anger and anxiety control us and cause us to act, or not to act, in ways we might later regret.

This can leave us with a sense that we are not in control of our lives.

The reality, however, is that we are in control of our lives and emotions help us maintain this control.

Here are 5 facts about emotions which will help you take back control of your life.

Fact #1: Emotions are Tools you can learn to master.

If you have ever purchased a new “smart” tool such as a computer, cell phone, TV, car, or sewing machine, you know that these “tools” often involve a learning curve. For example, if you want to get the most out of your new phone, you will need to acquire some new skills.

Mastering your new tools greatly enhance their usefulness.

Mastering your emotions as tools could make your life more meaningful, improve your relationships, and give you back control over situations in which you find yourself.

By the way, the words emotions and feelings are basically the same (unless you are a scientist doing a study or writing technical books) and the words can be used interchangeably.

Fact#2: Your emotions alert you to and prepare you to effectively interact with your surroundings.

Most people believe that their feelings both control and happen to them. While this is partially true, it is also misleading.

Indeed, there is a subconscious element of emotions which you do not control. However, there is also a conscious element which gives you a great deal of control.

Here is how the emotional process works.

The subconscious element:

All of us constantly scan our surroundings for threat. This process is hard-wired in us and helped us survive as a species when our early ancestors lived in caves.

This subconscious element functions the same today as it did millennia ago.

When you perceive a threat (physical or psychological), your brain sends a message to the Thalamus which puts your body on alert. This is called fight or flight. It is your initial reaction to an emotional situation.

The conscious element:

At the same time, the thinking part of your brain gets a wake-up call to begin the process of thinking about the threat you have subconsciously noticed. This element of emotions allows you to assess your situation and empowers you to decide how you will react. This choice helps you improve both your own life and your relationships with others.

The process of assessing your situation and choosing a response is called emotional mastery.

You don’t control your initial reaction but you can learn to master your response to the perceived threat.

Fact #3: Each emotion informs you about how you perceive your surroundings. You can use this information to choose how you will respond to what happens to you.

5 Facts About Emotions to Help You Take Back Control of Your Life.

Two examples of “information” and choice:

1) your gas gauge informs you about the fuel in your tank so you can decide whether you need to stop and fill up

2) a thermometer tells you how your body is reacting to an internal “disease” process so you can decide whether you need to consult a doctor, your emotions tell you how you perceive what is happening to you and allow you to decide what you might need to do about it.

Each emotion communicates to you a different message based on your initial reaction to an event.

Here are the messages of the some basic emotions.

Anger: You perceive a threat that you believe you can eliminate if you throw enough force at it.

Anger (or mad) prepares you for battle.

Sad: You are facing a loss which may require you to step back, wind down and come to grips with an altered future.

Sadness prepares you for reflection.

Glad: You are facing a situation which looks encouraging and which you want more of.

Glad (or happy) prepares you to engage and increase your level of involvement.

Fear: You are facing a situation which will kill you.

Fear prepares you to escape.

Disgust: You are facing a situation which “leaves a bad taste” in your mouth.

You are prepared to get away from this bad situation, person, or object.

Surprise: You are facing a situation which is different from what you expected. If the surprise is pleasant as in winning the office pool, you may want more of what is going on. If the surprise is unpleasant as in your car not starting, you might wish the incident had never taken place.

Anxiety: You are facing an uncertain future. Another word for anxiety is worry. Anxiety is not the same as fear although people use the words interchangeably.

Anxiety can lead to action or inaction.

The issue with anxiety is that the future MAY or MAY Not take place. If you act as if the future will definitely occur and will result in negative consequences, you may do nothing or avoid that about which you are worried. This is anxiety as distress. On the other hand, if you, like my students, use the energy of your anxiety to prepare yourself for your future, then you will take effective action to prevent the future about which you are worried. This is anxiety as eustress. These are the two sides of anxiety: same emotion, different interpretations and different responses.

Fact#4: Mastering your emotions gives you more control over your own life as well as increased influence in your interactions with others.

Definition of emotional mastery: You master an emotion when you understand its message, take a moment to assess the validity of the message as it reflects upon what is actually happening, and choose a response that adaptively deals with the situation you are facing

Mastery and self-control: When you use your emotions as tools, you are now in a position to effectively respond to your surroundings. You are in control of you and you can choose responses which improve your life by effectively moving you forward toward and motivating you regarding goals that you set.

Mastery and interpersonal influence: You can master the emotions of others and deescalate an interaction by observing emotions in others, understanding how they perceive what is going on (the message of the emotion) and choosing a response which validates (does not approve) their perception and helps them to reevaluate their interactions with you.

Fact#5: There are a ton of free resources to help you learn about and master your emotions.

My blogcovers all aspects of emotions. To help you access over 100 posts by topic, I have included a tab in the top right hand corner of my homepage which will take you to a PDF of my posts by 5 topic areas: Using Emotions as Tools, Anger, Other Emotions, Relationships and Emotions, and Words and Emotion. You can also download the first two chapters of both of my Amazon Best Selling Books.

About the author:

Ed Daube, Ph.D. is an Amazon best-selling author of two books:


He retired after 32 years with the California Youth Authority, is a college professor and hosts an informative blog (TheEmotionsDoctor.com) which educates readers about their emotions and other relevant psychological topics.



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Although having emotions is a normal part of the human experience, it doesn’t mean that someone is born with the ability to understand them. In the same way that someone will need to be taught how to speak, they will also need to be taught how to understand their own emotions.

​Therefore, unless someone is given the guidance that they need during the beginning of their life, they can end up being in a position where they don’t understand their own emotions as an adult. They will then most likely be able to understand what to say to others, along with what others say to them, but they won’t understand how they feel or even how other people feel.

A Frustrating Existence

Instead of being able to describe how they feel, they could just have moments where they are aware that they feel down or are angry, for instance. What they won’t be able to do is to accurately describe what is taking place inside them.

One way of looking at this would be to say that one will have a whole pallet of paints but it will be as if they only have a few to choose from. Through not being able to label each emotion that is inside them, their experience on this earth will be limited.

One Reason

Now, if someone has the need to understand what is taking place inside them, it could be because they are not in a good way emotionally. As a result of this, they can want to understand how they feel so that they can get the right assistance.

Once they are able to do this, their inner world will end up having far more depth and they will be able to put certain labels to one side. This can allow them to get to the bottom of how they feel and to accurately describe what they are going through to others.

Turning Into the Body

The first thing that they can do is to pay attention to what is taking place in their body as certain parts of the body correspond to certain emotions. For example, anger can be felt in the mouth, hands and at the top of the stomach, while sadness, rejection, abandonment and loss can be felt in the chest.

What this comes down to is that sensations are the precursor to feelings; first there were sensations (physical body), then there were feelings (emotional body) and then came thoughts (mental body). So by getting back in touch with what came first – sensations - one can start to understand what came after – their feelings.

A Helping Hand

When it comes to understanding what feelings are felt where one can take a closer look into the chakra system. It doesn’t whether one is on board with this system or not as each chakra goes into where certain feelings are felt in the body.

There is then no pressure on them to become a lifelong student of the charka system; they are simply using the valuable information that it provides. If they have an open mind, this system can greatly benefit their life.

Final Thoughts

For one to go from having no idea about how they feel to having a clear idea will take time. Nonetheless, the effort that they put in to understand their inner world will be worth it in the long run.

Ultimately, what they do will allow them to understand themselves, and this can have a positive effect on every area of their life. The greater understanding they have of their inner world, their better their outer world can be.

When it comes to what one generation passes onto the next, genetics are at the forefront. Some experts say that whatever one generation has, the next are certain to have the same. However, others, through their understanding of epigenetics, have said that their needs to be a trigger in order for anyone’s DNA to have an effect.

And this trigger could be an external trigger, so environmental, or an internal trigger and how one feels or thinks for instance. What doesn’t receive as much exposure as this, is how emotional neglect can be passed on from one generation to another.

No Surprise

But, if one were to step back and look at how the western world is, this is not going to be much of a surprise. And this is because the western world and the countries that have been influenced by it are out of balance. The masculine side has been embraced, whereas the feminine has largely been rejected.

For example, genetics are seen as building blocks and as something that can be changed or removed. Just like how one would build a house, create an extension or remove a part of the existing structure.

Emotions on the other hand, can’t be seen directly, but they can be seen through the consequences that they create. It is also not possible to remove them, like one would move a brick from a house. The masculine approach is all about doing and the feminine approach is about being.

Cut Off

With there being a focus on the masculine or the left brain and a denial of the feminine and the right brain, an imbalance has been created. And that has meant that emotions have largely been ignored.

They are often seen as insignificant and the impact they have ends up being ignored. One can’t see air, but without it one would suffer and die shortly after, if this absence lasted for too long.

And the same applies to emotions; they can’t be seen and yet they define one’s life. If one feels good or balanced, certain things will be done. But if they don’t feel good and are out of balance, it could lead to one behaving in ways that are destructive to themselves and to others.

Childhood Development

So genetics will be often seen as the primary reason as to why someone grows up to be how they are. And when this relates to someone’s emotional development, it could be said that they feel as they do because it runs in the family for instance. Here one might suffer from depression, have what is often described as an ‘addictive personality’ or have mental problems.

And while there may be some truth to this outlook, what it doesn’t look into is the kind of care one received as a baby and a child. The kind of nurturing one did receive or didn’t receive during this time will make a massive difference to the kind of person one will grow up to be.

Through the focus being on genetics, its stops attention going where it needs to be. It is through awareness that change takes place, without it, nothing can truly change.

Emotional Neglect

To be neglected during ones formative years is going to create problems and the severity of these problems will depend on many different things. Two people could experience neglect and turn our completely different; one person could elevate themselves and another could end up living a life of pain and suffering or even commit suicide.

Firstly, there will be how the neglect affects them and how they respond to these consequences. And then there will be the kind of support that they do or do not receive.

Never Again

However, no matter what happens after the neglect has taken place and one becomes an adult, it is likely that one would have said to themselves that they would not do this to anyone. But time passes and one ends up doing to their own child or children, what was done to them.

And as one suffered so much through being neglected themselves, it can seem strange that they would do the same thing to another. Logically this doesn’t make any sense and why would it.

The Cycle

So if one was to work on their neglect through therapy or was able to heal it in another way, then the chances of them passing it on are going to be very low. The problems arise when ones becomes out of touch with what happened all those years ago.

And this is a normal response to trauma, disconnecting from what happened is a way to handle the pain. But although this does allow one to ‘survive’, it also means that they are liable to repeat the same pattern all over again.

This is because the pain of what happened has remained within them and to be around a baby or a child that is incredibly needy and dependent, is going to trigger that part of them that feels the same. And because the child reminds them of this, they will want to avoid the child.

Without Awareness

It would be easy to assume that in order for a caregiver to act this way, they must be bad or evil. And yet this behaviour will be a reaction and not something that they have consciously thought about.

Their pain will be triggered and then the child will be neglected; either through the caregiver physically leaving them or by them being emotionally unavailable. The ability to act consciously is taken away as a result of them carrying so much pain.

Education

What this emphasises is the importance of education, especially when it comes to the area of emotional development. Emotional neglect can cause someone to be emotionally stuck and so it will be important for them to deal with the pain of what happened or more to the point, what didn’t happen, many years ago.

Unless one wakes up and takes responsibility for their emotional development, then there is strong chance that nothing will change and the past will be repeated once again. With emotions being generally ignored in the west, it means that in most cases, one will need to take the initiative themselves.

Awareness

To heal emotional neglect will take work and patience and is likely to require the assistance of a therapist or a healer. They will provide the mirroring and attunement that one didn’t get as a child and allow one to release the emotional pain that they have been carrying ever since.

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