Emotions in human life have an impact on our daily lives. People should be taught emotions from a young age in order to improve their mental health and well-being. Students learn trigonometry in high school, but only a few of them practically use it, while emotions that affect everyone's lives are not taught earlier in life. Critical emotional information must be taught in schools so that students are aware of their emotional health.
Perhaps the most critical thing about emotions that you should know is that "emotions are innate." People are born with it wired into their brains. No one can stop or prevent emotions. The reason we cannot prevent core emotions from arising is because they have evolved to help humans survive.
Emotions cannot be prevented or stopped from happening, but the good news is that they can be controlled. You can absolutely control your emotions in helpful ways that strengthen your mental and emotional health.
How Do Core Emotions Work?
We always experience core emotions at times, such as fear, anger, joy, sadness, excitement, and sexual excitement. The vagus nerve in the brain’s limbic system triggers emotions. This nerve connects the brain to the body, and when emotions are triggered, it activates the body.
Each core emotion has a specific program that causes a certain sensation and impulses in the body and makes it act. For example, the core emotion of fear makes our body run, and anger makes our body fight.
These impulses can drive undesired behavior, especially when we are unaware of them or our body is not in control of them. For instance, we yell at our loved ones when they mistakenly hurt our feelings. Emotional impulses always exert a force on your body to act. For instance, when someone insults you, you feel the impulse to cut off that person, even if you are not aware of the core emotions of anger and sadness that you experience at that time.
Defending core emotions in the body has vital ramifications for symptom relief, healing, transformation, and health. One can develop this sensing ability with effort and practice.
The Impact of Inhibitory Emotions
There is another category of emotions called inhibitory emotions, which squash and block core emotions such as shame, anxiety, and guilt. Inhibitory emotion keeps us connected to others by suppressing our core emotions. For instance, we learn not to show core emotions such as fear or sadness because others would judge us for expressing those emotions. The core emotions are buried beneath the inhibitory emotions.
Some people unconsciously use inhibitory emotions such as guilt and shame to bury the core emotion of "anger." Consequently, they are no longer aware that they are angry. They just end up feeling depressed because of the emotions that they do not show, and it turns inward. The emotional energy trapped inside our bodies makes us feel low.
Cutting off from our core emotions turns into depression, greater anxiety, low self-confidence, loneliness, and the inability to communicate our needs and wants. Aside from these mental symptoms, you may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, muscular tension, bowel problems, and others.
Understanding Our Response To Emotions
You might have noticed people judging and blaming others for "being emotional." Reasons for this can be many, but the first and foremost may be that they don't understand the emotion and why one experiences it. Emotions and anxiety are "contagious." If you are with someone who is experiencing core emotions, it will increase your stress and discomfort. Consequently, people sometimes react harshly. But with the right tools and understanding, one can respond in helpful ways.
You can easily understand the "emotional contagion" by knowing that more than 70% of emotional communication happens to be in nonverbal form. We are influenced by and deeply react to each other's facial expression, tone of voice, and body posture and gestures. For example, it doesn't matter what words are said; what matters is how they are said. You will always have an emotional reaction if they look angry and use a harsh tone of voice.
The society we live in doesn't teach us helpful ways to validate and honor emotions. We always try to push our emotions away when they arise. People use defenses to squash and bury emotions, and this way they protect themselves from emotional discomfort.
Defense is an excellent way to deal with painful experiences. The defense isn't all bad. Rather, we must understand that habitually using defense can raise questions about our vitality and authenticity. Defenses will only be beneficial if you use them sparingly. For instance, you may lower your anger or sadness at work to avoid crying or yelling at your boss. But later, you make time to release your anger or sadness so that you do not bury those emotions in your body.
The Benefits of Fully Understanding Emotions
It's vital to process core emotions instead of squashing and burying them beneath inhibitory emotions or by using defenses. The energy that our core emotions create needs to be released and not trapped in our bodies. We usually spend our emotional energy engaging with the outside world, such as through productive work, activities, or our connection with other people, and not on maintaining defenses that control our emotions.
When you learn about emotions and develop a healthy relationship with your own, you start the healing process. For instance, when you try to control emotions, it connects with your brain, body, and mind, which leads to building self-confidence, calm, mental flexibility, and better health.
If someone doesn't understand emotions, it's not their fault. How can we expect people to understand emotion if no one has taught them about it? All we can do is learn healing and prevention techniques for symptoms like depression and anxiety. You can heal your mind by understanding your emotions.