We are a very emotional species! Part of being human is having to deal with these emotions both our own, and of others. However, most of our emotions are not freely on display instead hidden away inside of us battling for influence in all aspects of our daily lives and unfortunately — winning a great many of these battles.
Part of what makes us unique both as a species and as individuals is the way our emotions hold power over us and the way they do so on a uniquely individual scale. There are those among us who are very emotional, somewhat emotional, and a few who show very little emotions at all. Then there are those who are deemed overly emotional and wear their emotions bravely on their sleeve for all the world to see.
Not only are we different emotionally on an individual basis but seemingly also on a cultural level as well? You ever notice how people from different countries, from different cultures than our own seem to show their emotions differently than we do? Perhaps more aggressively or more passionately than we do?
RULED BY OUR EMOTIONS
I’m a realist I suppose, at least in the way that I view human emotions as an evolutionary necessity for survival. But also (I believe) a detrimental blockade of reality. In other words, they get in the way of what is real, clutter our minds with trivial anxieties and for the most part have no real bearing on the realities of the outside world. After all, our emotions are created and come from within our own subjective private world.
Although we can convey our feelings to others, our emotions are ours and ours alone. We created them, must bear them and are the only ones who consciously experience them. And the power and control of our emotions have a big say in who we are (for better or worse.) We are capable of being both confident and outgoing, or withdrawn — wallowing in self-pity, anxiety or burdened with emotional baggage.
Yet the most troubling issue that the power of emotions hold over us, is how we react in their presence. When they burst upon us suddenly as in anger or have us needlessly dwelling on them for hours, days, weeks or longer well after the fact. Even positive emotions can at times blind us to the reality of our situations.
So reducing or at least being able to control ones emotions would make for a happier life? Sounds reasonable? I have to admit though, I’ve not been all that successful just yet — at practicing what I preach!
Like the rest of you, I have been ruled by emotion for most of my life. But lately (in my aging years), I’ve come to see things a little bit clearer now. I’ve thought a great deal in retrospect on how emotions (both yours and mine) : clutter our logic, cause spur of the moment and in some cases bad decisions, and scar us at times so greatly that they can influence the rest of our lives.
Now I’m not saying we’d be better off without ‘any’ emotions! Just that having some control over them or at the least being able to recognize them at the time for what they are would benefit us all. Maybe they should be teaching emotional self-control in school instead of all that other useless crap they embed in our children’s heads? You know? How about some Real life management skills! — That be handy — no?
Think of all the arguments, the anger and resentments that could have been avoided if one could just step back and recognize what they are feeling at the time. And Why they are feeling this way! How different your own life would be without the feelings of shame, rejection, or inadequacies that we’ve all experienced.
Negative emotional experiences as far back as childhood can and do live in us — even to this day! After all, that is essentially what makes you and I an individual. Our experiences of emotion both good and bad that slowly build one on top of the other over time eventually helping to form ones unique personality. The — “who you are of today!” Perhaps not all that black and white but basically that’s what we are; a collective of past memories, tagged with emotions, and spread over a table top of our lifetime!
When you think of a memory, it’s either a good memory, a bad memory, a scary memory, etc. or a memory of some kind of emotion. Go ahead, try to think of an “old memory” that has NO emotional tag to it. Not so easy? So it seems that our human emotions not only rule over our day-to-day lives but over our past memories as well. Perhaps an evolutionary trait, built-in for our survival?
So if back then, something once scared you? Stay away! If a certain situation led to emotional stress in the past? Avoid it now! When you heard the cry of a dangerous beast you became frightened and thus more leery or careful or protective for your own survival. Perhaps this was one of the original goals of emotions? Survival?
These emotional reactions served us well in the past during mankind’s early development. They helped ensure our survival in a then dangerous and uncivilized world. But Today? Where no wild predators seek us? Shouldn’t we be experiencing and overcoming these reactions instead of emotionally running away?
Today our emotions have evolved, now encompassing a vast range of complex social and interpersonal emotions that we encounter most everyday.
That’s why I believe emotional self-control (among other things) should be taught to us at an early age. So that we don’t just run away! Or Avoid! But recognize what is happening to us emotionally and can step back and logically evaluate. In the process, perhaps we could then avoid the many pitfalls that bad emotional experiences can have on us over a lifetime? Or at least have better control over our emotions day to day.
Now trying to do this by ourselves (as I have learned) is downright hard! We’ve lived our whole lives in reactive response to emotion! And to try to consciously control them now? Well, I’m not sure that’s even possible? But can we learn to pause and recognize what we are at any given moment in time feeling? On an emotional level? With practice, I think we can! And be better off for it too!
The passing of time seems to effect or alter our emotions, as example in our relationships. Newlyweds (in lust) can’t stand being physically and emotionally apart, while many whose relationships have lasted over many years now seem grateful for their time apart. Over the years, our partner- relationship emotions, have built up both bad and good. Too many bad and too often, lead to bitter resentment, or worse in divorce?
We all have a mixed bag of past emotions stuck in our heads when it comes to our relationships. Especially with those close to us, as in our longtime partners or family members!
Being totally honest with oneself helps! Once emotion is stripped away, most of us think clearer and thus can be more true and honest with ourselves. However most of these “clear moments” in our lives usually happen well past our initial emotional events. Sometimes even taking years until emotions fade enough (or are replaced by others) can we then get an honest and logical self-evaluated assessment.
And how are we finally able to close the book on these past events? By deleting the emotional tags from the experience and thus giving us a more logical and less emotional evaluation of our feelings. It seems only when we are able to drop emotion out of the picture are we then able to take an unbiased look, an “outside the box” overview of our experiences.
NEGATIVE SIDE OF EMOTIONS
This not only applies to our emotional example with our partners, but in all past and present situations! Think back now on how many times you have tortured yourself over some emotional conflict in your mind. Did it solve anything? Was it worth the stress, the sleepless nights or the up and down roller-coaster ride of feelings that you had to then endure? Did it consume your inner-thoughts needlessly, for days, weeks, years?
I think most of us have left-over emotional baggage clinging to us from somewhere?
Bigger still, are the negative emotions of: anger, hate, greed, jealousy, etc. These can lead to stress, depression even violence. On a grander scale; vengeance, murder or even war! The complexity of our emotions and how they affect each and every one of us differently is still an ongoing matter. But the fact of the matter is that they do hold power over us and influence our lives and how we live it.
Emotions do rule over our lives and most likely always will! They can cause feelings of pain, loss and rejection. But without them? We wouldn’t have those good memories of love, of our children, our successes, or the pleasant memories of friendships and past events. I think “Double edged sword” seems to fit here?
My view may be different from most of you, in how I see Us; as biological conscious beings ruled by our evolutionary make-up and directed by our chemically inducing brains to feel sad, happy or fall in love. And most of the time without our conscious consent! But regardless of ones interpretation on how emotions affect our lives, you must agree that clearly they continue to do so!
And if say, we were all schooled at an early enough age to recognize these emotions when they are happening and to learn to exert some self-control over our dominating emotions; then perhaps the world would be — could be — in a better place?
With less violence, misunderstandings and misplaced anger, how could our future be anything but brighter? Perhaps even bringing us one step closer to realizing our true human potential.
And all it would take, is a little — emotional self-control!
THE WORD OF WAYNE
“I used to give too much importance to reason until I discovered the world was shaped not by reason but by emotion” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana
“The world will not know peace until we learn to understand each other’s emotions”― Bangambiki Habyarimana
Don’t forget to share your views and experiences with all of us on today’s subject line. Your input “What do you think?” is what WOW is all about! Opinions from the only voice that matters. Your voice! The voice of the people!