WHY DO WE HAVE EMOTIONS?
Every one of us sometimes feels “good” and has times where we feel “bad”. What we mean when we say this is that we are experiencing pleasant emotions, like joy, love, awe, compassion, curiosity and so on, or unpleasant emotions like fear, anxiety, guilt, jealousy, disappointment or annoyance. Clearly, there are emotions we prefer to feel over others but what most of us don’t realize is that there is a good reason for all of them.
The purpose of pain is to get us to act
The pleasant feelings we have are confirming that something is going well or that we are doing something right. They encourage us to do more of these things whether it’s spending time with close friends, doing a hobby we enjoy or traveling. The unpleasant ones are telling us that something might not be right and they want us to do something about it. These emotions help to motivate us to do what we need to in order to best deal with the situation. The way we see it, these feelings have to be unpleasant or uncomfortable because that’s how we are most likely to notice them and to respond to them.
It’s similar to when we experience the physical pain of a toothache. We notice this pain right away and then we might start by brushing our teeth more, then making an appointment with the dentist because we want to relieve ourselves of the pain and we also don’t want the pain to get worse. We notice the toothache right away and it’s hard to ignore it. Whereas, when we don’t have a toothache, we don’t spend much time thinking about our teeth, they are just there. The pain or discomfort catches our attention and gets us to act. In this case, the toothache helps us to look after our body and to take better care of it.
Emotions bring us the energy we need to act
Emotions can make us want to act in a certain way. When we feel angry, we might want to hurriedly respond, attack or yell. Sometimes these responses are appropriate and they will help us to fix what is not right or to reach our goals. But not always. Anger essentially gives us energy and motivation to make things right or to remove obstacles in the way of us reaching our goals. The key is learning to channel this energy and motivation in the right way so that it helps us and not just responding in the first way we might feel inclined to.
In order to make the best decisions for how to act we need to clearly know what we are feeling, the context of what is going on and we need to consider different perspectives. There are always many ways in which we can respond, but not all responses will bring us the outcomes we want.
The more we know what each emotion wants us to do, the more we can say: “Thank you, emotion for this message and suggestion how to act. I will take this into consideration and I will choose what the best way to act is right now.” Then your emotion can move on and you can use the message and energy from the emotion to respond in the best possible way for each particular situation.
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