Have you ever felt so many emotions that it’s too much for your brain? Have you ever dreamt to turn it off? Sometimes, it is so intense, you don’t know anymore how to understand them or how you could express.
The word emotion comes from Latin “motio” which means “movement” and e- which mean “that come from”. So it means “what is making us in movement”. Psychologists agree about six primary emotions which are: joy, fear, sadness, angry, disgust and surprise. They are automatic and unconscious like reflexes and born directly in our brain. Inborn, they belong to our animal size cause we share them with all species. What makes us different from animals is fact that we are just able to feel more complex emotions, which are a combination of several primary emotions like culpability, gratefulness, disappointment… Despite the cultural dimension which influences how we express them, they also constitute a universal language beyond any language barrier. Have you never noticed the feelings behind foreign words you couldn’t understand? Anyway, with the help of brain imaging, science has shown that our brains detect feelings quicker than noticing if they see a known face or not.
What are our emotions for? We feel them so they must be useful, right? So, what are they good for? They answer to a need for survival. Prehistoric men had to be surprised and scared about predators if they wanted to survive. They had to be angry to cross obstacles. The joy and sadness answer to social needs which are the third need in Maslow pyramid of needs. However life, is it only to breathe, eat, drink and sleep? Beyond to survive, emotions keep us alive, making our life’s tastier. Anyway, our brain keeps memories much better of events which are connected to strong emotions. Indeed, areas in the brain responsible for emotions and memories are very close to each other: amygdale which detect new events and hippocampus which take care of our long term memory. Emotions give value to our memories.
Furthermore, how could we recognize joy if each day is a nice day? Bad days permit us to enjoy more good moments! But, our animal side kept our primitive reflexes. That’s why, humans pay more attention to “dangerous” situations and we are less attentive to successful ones. But dangerous situations, are they really so dangerous? Is your security at stake? Most of the time it’s not. It doesn’t mean that you’re wrong to feel negative emotions. Actually, there aren’t wrong or negative emotions; all of them have an origin and a purpose. It’s just more or less comfortable to feel. You’re not responsible for what you feel because it’s kind of a reflex, but you are responsible for what you will do with these feelings.
Uncomfortable emotions indicate that a need isn’t satisfied which leads us to be angry or scared. They are like a signal which drives us to adapt in each situation and push us to act. For example, let me tell you how much I was worried about language barrier when I arrived in Macedonia! Actually, I’m still worried about that, but I’m the only one who is able to act to improve the situation. No one will learn for me. So my fear pushes me to work harder to learn the language.
So, it means don’t let your prehistoric side react emotionally and take time to observe what’s happening within you in specific situation. Which of your needs isn’t satisfied? Each of your days, you will feel so many emotions. Sometimes they go as quick as they come. Many things happen and influence how you feel, often in unexpected ways. Be open for changes! That’s why we should try to overcome our spontaneous reactions. Not being stuck on our first emotions helps us to adopt an assertive behavior. Assertively is the capacity to listen to your own emotions and to find an acceptable way to express them while being considerate of others. Mostly uncomfortable feelings don’t come from emotions themselves but from the consequences of expressing them too quickly and strongly. Have you never felt angry about being angry?
As a sensitive person, I totally understand how difficult it can be, specifically because emotions are like energy charges. They cause tension inside of you. Then, your brain sends neuronal messages which will impact all of your body. Depending on the situation, you can notice changes in blood circulation, heart rhythm, breathing… That’s why it’s so important not to keep them for yourself. If you do, the risk is that the emotion could come back later with much more intensity. It creates a lag between the situation and what you felt before.
Otherwise, cognitive sciences proved that social success is linked to our emotional intelligence* ; our capacity to recognize our emotions and others. Indeed, humans don’t have only one form of intelligence. So emotional intelligence should be promoted from the youngest age, but school doesn’t teach us how to improve it. We should help our children to understand what is happening inside and to teach them to express their emotions in an acceptable way. Every situation can be solved by dialogue. Violence is a failure of thought and could be the result of a lack of words.
Our visual and self-centered societies, tell us to control them. We are not supposed to show to others how vulnerable or sensitive we can be. You have to be strong and that pressure is even tougher on guys. Though, who can say what’s really happening behind all our happy and gleeful pictures on social networks? Would you really share an Instagram story about how horribly bad you feel?
We should just be conscious about this. We don’t need to share all the shades of our soul on social networks, but it is important to have friends with whom we’re close enough to dare to be ourselves without fears of being judged. Or to find other ways of expressing our full range of emotions and feelings. Writing, painting, acting… The most important is to find your own way. Many things can be helpful to leave our noisy environment, so full of temptations and can give us the opportunity to take time to listen and observe what’s happening inside. Personally, I really appreciate hiking to empty my head of all these worries or questions I often have… So don’t be scared about your emotions, observe and listen to them, accept them, embrace them, understand them, and answer them respectfully!
*In, 1983, the psychologist Howard Gardner defended his Theory of Multiple Intelligences.He criticises tests wich considerate only two forms of intelligence, logico-mathematic and linguistic.He promotes developing schools’ educational policies based on other forms of intelligence which include:
Kinesthésic or coporal
He was talking about interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.
We need to wait 1990 and Peter Salovey and John Mayer’s work to talk about emotionnal intelligence which were popularised by Daniel Goleman in 1995.