Emotions can sometimes be hard to deal with, but having feelings is one of the defining aspects of being a human. Feelings exist on a spectrum and can be divided into two categories of emotions: basic and complex emotions.
Basic emotion theory suggests three key parts make up our emotions, which include subjective experience, physiological response, and behavioral response.
Subjective Experience All human emotions are triggered by a certain stimulus, whether it’s something positive like getting a compliment, or something negative like scraping your leg. Subjective experiences can also be large events, like getting married, or small occurrences, like seeing a pretty flower. Whatever the case may be, this experience is what begins the process of experiencing an emotion.
Behavioral Response The behavioral response is the actual expression of the emotion. This can often be seen in facial expressions – a happy facial expression is almost universally recognized as a smile, while raised eyebrows and a slightly open mouth suggest surprise. Additionally, it can be easy to spot emotions expressed through the eyes: wide eyes can indicate fear or surprise, squinted eyes can indicate anger, and downcast eyes suggest shame or guilt.
If you thought emotions and feelings were the same, you’re not alone. The two terms are used interchangeably, but they mean different things.
Emotions are sensations we can feel in the body, while feelings are influenced by those emotions, even though they are ultimately generated by our thoughts. Emotions are not always felt consciously, but feelings are. For example, the feeling of hunger is something you know you’re feeling, while experiencing the emotion of anger may be less obvious to you.
Many people have thought at one point or another that they’d be more productive or content if they didn’t have so many emotions. But emotions are important and serve several purposes.
Social Function Emotions allow us to connect with and understand others. Imagine how difficult it would be to have any close relationships if you had no emotions. It would be nearly impossible to truly connect with another person if you didn’t feel joy, excitement, entertainment, sympathy, or other emotions when you spent time with them.
There are many things that can influence the range of emotions we feel and how we react to them. If you surround yourself with negative people, you may notice yourself experiencing emotions of sadness or negativity. Other times, emotions are influenced by mental illnesses like depression or anxiety, which can cause a negative emotional state.
On the flip side, if you spend time doing things you love, take care of your health, and focus on staying positive, you may find yourself feeling happy more often.
You may not realize your basic emotions can have a major impact on your health, but they definitely can, which is why it is important to manage your emotions as best as you can.
If you struggle with understanding or regulating your emotions, you’re not alone. It’s not always easy to manage emotions. However, there are some steps you can take to learn how to better handle different types of feelings, positive and negative.
Identify How You’re Feeling You may avoid emotions of sadness, anger, or anxiety because they aren’t pleasant to experience. However, it is important to acknowledge how you’re feeling instead of pushing the negative feelings away. An expression of sadness is sometimes what’s needed in order to move past the feeling.
Determine if Your Emotions Are Helpful or Unhelpful Common emotions like stress, fear, and worry can easily feel overwhelming. Sometimes, the best thing we can do to find relief from these emotions is to ask ourselves, “is feeling this way benefiting me in any way?” Usually, the answer is no. When you accept that fear or worry can’t change a situation, it’s easier to let go and relax.
Experiment With Healthy Coping Skills If you are feeling emotional disappointment, regret, or other difficult emotions, sometimes they get worse if we try to cope with them with unhealthy habits, like drinking or self-sabotaging. Instead, try coping with negative emotions by journaling, exercising, or talking things out with a friend or family member.
Find Out More About Emotions at Iris Healing® Emotions don’t have to be scary. If you want to find out how to better connect with your different types of emotions, and ultimately improve your life, reach out to Iris Healing® today.