We are all spiritual beings in a physical body, and our emotions guide us. Understanding your emotions is the key to a life fulfilled. French philosopher, paleontologist, and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said…
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
This statement became the foundation for something called Spiritual Psychology, and I was first exposed to this decades ago.
Spiritual Psychology is a blend of science and spirituality that expands on Conventional Psychology by recognizing that a person has four levels requiring therapeutic attention…
- Physical – what you do
- Mental – what you believe
- Emotional – what you feel
- Authentic Self – ability for joy, acceptance, and self-compassion
Conventional psychology addresses a person at three levels; physical, mental and emotional. These three levels, the bedrock of conventional therapy, are all based on impermanence. What you do in your life (physical), what you think and believe (mental) and what you feel (emotional). All three levels will constantly change throughout life as you grow, mature, learn and evolve.
The Fourth Level – Authentic Self – is who you are at your core. At this level you are able to experience unconditional love, harmony, peace, joy and oneness with our universe, acceptance of others, and compassion for yourself. Not coincidentally, with a weakened connection to this level, life can feel empty, pointless, unsatisfying, and hopeless.
For almost a year now, I’ve been keeping company with a very special man in my life. He’s also a writer, deepening the relationship we are building and giving us something in common that is unspoken in terms of understanding each of our goals and motivation each day. But when it comes to our emotions, our paths diverge and there is very little common ground.
I wear my heart on my sleeve and don’t even attempt to hide my feelings and emotions most of the time. He, on the other hand, seldom exhibits overt emotional responses. There is no right or wrong here, just different people doing what comes naturally. Let’s explore this topic of understanding emotions more fully…
If you let your emotions get the better of you then you may do something that you will regret. There are benefits of mastering your emotions.
You need to identify your emotional triggers to control your emotions and the guide shows you how to do this. Discover proven methods to control your emotions that are simple to apply but powerful in the results that they achieve.
Discover why your self-worth is so important for controlling your emotions and the proven techniques that you can apply to boost your self-love. Controlling your emotions in your relationship is essential and I’ll cover that as well.
For you to master your emotions you need to know what you are dealing with. You may think that you know all about emotions but the truth is that you probably don’t.
What are Emotions?
An emotion is a reaction in a human being to a situation or event. We experience different types of emotions and experience individual emotions based on what triggers them. For example, if you receive some bad news then this can make you fearful. On the contrary, receiving good news can make you experience emotions of joy. Emotions are complex. There are 3 components of emotions which are:
1. The subjective experience
2. The physiological response
3. The behavioral response
We will look at each of these in detail below. There have been a lot of research studies into emotions and some experts have a different view about the different types of emotions that we experience. The earliest research suggested that we experienced six basic emotions that were:
Further research in the 1980s suggested that emotions can be mixed to create other variations. In 1999, research suggested that there were more basic emotions that needed to be added to the list. These were:
The combining of emotions can certainly create different emotions within us. For example, anticipation and happiness can result in excitement. There are emotional dimensions that you need to consider as well which are:
Anticipation vs Surprise
Fear vs Anger
Sadness vs Happiness
Disgust vs Trust
The Subjective Experience of Understanding Your Emotions
Experts in psychology believe that people across the globe experience several basic emotions despite their culture or their background. Research has proven that emotions tend to be very subjective.
The level of emotion that you may experience to the same trigger is likely to be different from that experienced by others.
An example of this is your response to something that makes you angry. Imagine something that is posted online that a lot of people see and are angry about it. This may annoy you mildly while others will be completely enraged by it.
Although we put emotions into broad categories such as “happy” and “sad” the way that you experience these emotions is going to be subjective. It is probably rare that you will experience an emotion like “happiness” in its purest form.
What is more likely is that you will experience a combination of emotions that will result in a unique experience for you. If you are getting married soon then you can experience a combination of excitement and nervousness for example. These emotions can happen at the same time or you may experience one first and then the other one.
The Physiological Response
Emotions can cause physiological reactions within you. If you are anxious about something then this can cause your heart to race and fear which makes your stomach churn. Our brains are hardwired for survival and if a threat is perceived then it will automatically put you into “fight or flight” mode.
There are physiological symptoms associated with this. For example, you might experience your heart racing or your palms begin to sweat. These are all controlled by your sympathetic nervous system which has control over the involuntary response of the body. This includes digestion and blood flow.
Your brain has a significant role to play with emotions. This is especially true when it comes to the amygdala which is a component of your limbic system. It plays a significant role when fear is experienced. There have been brain scan studies that show the activation of the amygdala when participants were threatened in some way. Any damage to the amygdala will impair response.
The Behavioral Response
How you express your emotions is the behavioral response. It is natural for us to constantly monitor the emotions of others through their facial expressions. We all have emotional intelligence which helps us to understand the emotions that others are experiencing through their body language.
It is safe to assume that a lot of expressions are universal. For example, no matter where you are in the world a frown will be an indication of sadness while a smile will be an indication of happiness. Some cultures try to mask their non-verbal expressions.
In Western countries, it is usual for people to express negative emotions while in Japan people will hide this until alone. Understanding your emotions is the first logical step to expressing yourself with others around the world.
Six Universal Emotions
In the early 1970s, a psychologist named Paul Eckman put forward the theory of 6 universal emotions. These have been widely accepted ever since. Here are the 6 universal emotion types with a brief explanation:
- Anger – you can tell if a person is angry by facial expressions such as frowning. Angry people may resort to violence and will often yell loudly. Anger is not always a bad thing as it can motivate you to change your life for the better. Controlling your anger emotion is important so that you do not cause harm to yourself or other people.
- Disgust – you can experience the disgust emotion on a moral level or a physical level. If you see someone doing something distasteful to you then you can experience moral disgust. A physical smell from rotting food, for example, can create a physical disgust emotion.
- Fear – there is real fear and irrational fear. Both of these can cause your heart to race and trigger your fight or flight response. A lot of people have irrational fears where there is no real danger but they think there is so they experience the same strong fear emotion.
- Happiness – happiness is an emotion that we all crave. It is a pleasant experience for us and we feel satisfied and have a good sense of well-being. When you are experiencing the happiness emotion you may speak in an upbeat way and smile a lot.
- Sadness – this is an emotion that we all experience from time to time. You may experience sadness from frustration or disappointment or through the grief of losing something you loved. Some people will hide from others when they are sad. Others will cry or just be very quiet.
- Surprise – you can experience a nice surprise emotion or a nasty surprise emotion. Gasping is a natural reaction to a surprise. If you experience a nasty surprise then this may trigger fear and put you in fight or flight mode.
Emotions, Feelings, and Moods are not the same
Many people believe that emotions are the same as feelings and moods but they are not. An emotion is usually intense but often short-lived. Most of the time there is a cause of an emotion that you can identify. For example, if you upset your partner, intentionally or unintentionally, you can experience sadness.
The way that we feel is a direct result of our emotions. You will feel a certain way depending on how you perceive a particular situation. Emotion can make people feel differently. How you feel about experiencing sadness can be very different from how someone else feels about it.
What is a mood? It is an emotional state that tends to be temporary. At times your mood can be determined by a clear reason. If you believe that things are going well in your life right now then you will be in a happy mood. But it is not always obvious why you are in a particular mood.
The Benefits of Mastering and Understanding Your Emotions
You can use the techniques here to take control of your emotions but it is going to take time and require consistent effort on your part. To motivate you to keep going, it will help you to be aware of the benefits of mastering your emotions.
With the people I mentor and teach in my online business, I share the concept of having a “Beginner’s Mindset” that includes your emotional responses. Beginner’s mind is actually a concept from Zen Buddhism called Shoshin: “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.”
If you do not work to control your emotions then they can result in you making a lot of reactionary responses which are not good for your life. For most people, some emotions will provoke a negative response that will land them in all sorts of trouble. You want to avoid this so inspire yourself to master your emotions by understanding the long-term benefits.
1. Make Better Decisions
When you can master your emotions, you will be able to make better decisions in your life. We all experience different emotions every day, and you do not want these to compel you to do something that you will regret.
Let’s say that you have had a particularly bad day at work and have experienced emotions such as anger and sadness. You do not want to take these frustrations home with you. If you do, then it is likely that you will take out your frustrations on the people that you love.
You will not feel out of control anymore when you master your emotions. It will provide you with the chance to make better intentional decisions. No longer will you allow your emotions to dictate your behavior.
2. Be a Constructive Communicator
If you have experienced a painful emotion then when you communicate with others there will likely be a destructive force involved. This doesn’t have to mean that you start yelling at those you are communicating with although this is possible.
Maybe the emotion makes you feel that you are not worthy. Your self-confidence tanks and this will prevent you from communicating what you want from your interactions with others. This will be a very frustrating experience as you will not get what you want.
When you have mastered your emotions, you be a better listener and will communicate the messages that you want. Being in control of your emotions means that you will communicate from a peaceful frame of mind rather than one that is full of pain.
3. Make Healthier Choices
If an emotion you have experienced has negatively impacted you then it is likely that you will feel vulnerable. In this situation, you are more likely to binge eat junk foods to feel better about yourself.
People often make a lot of unhealthy choices when they are negatively impacted by their emotions. They may smoke more cigarettes, drink alcohol, take drugs or eat very unhealthy foods. Any of these behaviors can compound the problem that the emotion first caused.
Mastering your emotions is not an instant fix for eating the wrong foods, drinking alcohol, and so on. What it will do is help to clear your mind so that you can assess if these choices are healthy for you. You will be in control here and make the decision that you want instead of having the emotion decide for you.
4. Increase Your Self-Confidence
Some emotions can cause you to evaluate your self-worth. You may have experienced an emotion that causes you to think that you are not good enough or that you do not fit in with the people around you. These things are not true but the emotion forces you to believe that they are.
Having control of and understanding your emotions will help you to test any negative thoughts that you experience about your self-worth. Whenever you experience a negative thought about yourself you can calmly assess it as untrue. No negative emotions are forcing you to believe that you are not worthy.
5. Improve your Relationships
Mastering and understanding your emotions will help you to communicate with others in a peaceful state of mind. You will listen more attentively to what the other person is saying and empathize with them. When you are in control of your emotions you will be a much better communicator.
This has clear advantages for your personal and business relationships.
You do not want to take out your frustrations on your partner or your children but if you don’t master your emotions then this is a likely outcome. Coming from a state of peace you will put more thought into your communications with those that you love.
Your business relationships should improve as well. It will not help if you are emotionally charged going into a business negotiation for example. You can scupper a lucrative deal if you let your emotions control you.
6. Improve your Mood
By mastering your emotions, you will find that you do not experience as many mood swings as you did before. Without control over your emotions, you are at the mercy of them and this can result in a lot of low points for you.
As a master of emotions, you can deal with any low points with your mood a lot easier. When you experience low points, you can bounce back a lot faster than if you let your emotions force the issue. You will be less susceptible to intense anger and anxiety due to your emotions.
7. Experience Greater Satisfaction
This is a cumulative benefit from all those that we discussed above. You are making better decisions and communicating more constructively. Your choices are healthier and your self-confidence increases. Relationships improve and you experience a lot fewer mood swings. All of these things provide you with a greater sense of satisfaction.
Understanding Your Emotions…
I hope you can see that understanding your emotions is the first step towards a life experience that most people crave. I’m Connie Ragen Green, mastering my emotions as a part of my personal growth journey. Come aboard for my complimentary Action Habits Challenge and take the next steps towards the lifestyle design you are seeking and deserve.