Have you ever taken the time to consider the emotions you put into your day? How do you feel about taking your morning shower? How do you feel about that first cup of coffee? What about the last sip? What is your reaction to starting the car? Can you even remember starting the car?
Do your days zip by without you being able to remember much? What about your memories of your childhood? Do you remember the words and actions as much as the emotion? How many commercials on TV are purely fact based vs. trying to hit you where it emotionally counts?
Humans are emotionally bound to reality. We are incapable of processing sensory input in real time. It takes nanoseconds for any sensory input to travel up our nervous system, get filtered by our sub-conscious, and then be reorganized so our conscious minds can handle it. By this time, our sub-conscious mind has had a chance to scour our memory banks and attach emotional reactions to it. We cannot experience the world without emotion. Even for those who do not seem to react, they have a subconscious reaction.
It is here that the power of our emotions lie – how we perceive and react to the world. The less we understand our emotional states, the less control we will have over ourselves and our quality of lives. The human experience – from immediate reactions, to memory, to health are tied to emotions. Even if you don’t fully understand your emotional state, you and your life experience are tied to it.
But what is emotion? I am not a psychological professional by any means, but in my experience, emotion is the agreed description for the physiological and mental changes that occur to a given stimulus. When your body feels good and your heart goes “a flutter” and your mind is focused on a given person, you have learned that is romantic love. When your body tenses, your heart surges adrenaline and you want to flee, you have learned that is fear. All of this is necessary for survival. But what about getting angry at someone cutting you off in traffic or yelling about the toilet seat, or “NEEDING” a piece of chocolate? – These aren’t so much needed for survival. By examining the stimulus that caused the reaction, plus all the possible other thoughts going on at the time, you can start to make break-throughs in your emotional status, which can lead to a happier, more balanced life.
The next time you get angry at someone you care about for what seems to be a minor infraction, ask yourself did they know better, am I upset about something else, am I in physical pain, am I worried about something else? Even addictions can have deep roots in emotional memories.
One tip I can pass along on how to work with your emotions and not to have them work against you is to keep a journal for a while on your emotional states, what caused them, when they changed and why. The simple act of bringing your awareness about them, can lead to some break through on how and why. Another tip I have used is to sit down and write about major emotional happenings at the moment. This helps release the emotional energy built up.
I think you will find that the better control and understanding you have over your emotional states, the higher quality of life you will experience, your memories will be more robust and your overall health will be better.