If our emotional state can determine actions and behaviours,basically how we can see/perceive LIFE, how not to spend time identifying, understanding and managing better those big characters?
It took me quite a time, to start following this understanding, and aware path – #mindful. And I have to admit that there are days that I complete forget it all, and let my feelings and “fear mind” take control, as if the problems and obstacles are outside, instead of inside myself.
It’s hard! It’s really hard when you do not have the basic emotional skills to handle all of these since from the beginning. But we can learn, we can always start again.
The Status Quo –
- So we know that depending on our perception (conscious or not), we may send signals of stress or danger to brain, which will process and act in ways to defend ourselves… even when there’s no real physical danger coming our way, like a bear across the street,.
- We know that due to our brains “negativity bias” we will glue to the negative memories, again another defense system preparing us for possible danger ahead. We could have 10 nice experiences and 1 bad, our mind will make sure we keep playing the story of that only 1 (bad) out of 10 (nice).
For a long time, my understanding was that the entire world was going against me, and if I did not protect myself, I would be swallowed by it. So even without understanding the emotional states I was going through as I child, I already my responses ready: push away the possible danger, close myself . However, this way to respond to life may have been benefitial to deal with pain for a while, but know was keeping me away of the same things I wanted the most: love, joy and care….
Not a blaming statement, but a factual one: My parents were not the best example on how to deal with emotions and feelings in a healthy way. They were caught up in some much confusion with their own feelings (early stages of life, pre and post divorce), that it all seemed out of control at home.
It was explosive reactions on one side, and feelings of superiority on the other side. Conversations almost always ended up in conflicts, there was verbal abuse and constant fights between them. After the divorce was even worst, and we stayed in the middle and fo some many times were asked to take sides. As I said no blaming, as today I understand that they both were incapable to take care of themselves and their own feelings, can you imagine others? They did the best they could.
Unfortunately the imprint stayed. Even if I did not understand and could express how I felt when younger. The body stored the tension in the muscles, the closed posture for self-defense. The mind stored the screamings and yellings, the put down and harsh responses, and the violence. The lack of control over emotions was registered. The raw feelings were there.
The feelings of rejection (my bother’s need and mine our were neglected, we were ignored), in addition to shame, guilty , anger (not expressed at that time, because how could hate your parents) & fear lots of fear (unprocessed – unfortunately, when the world proved once more not to be safe, this time in a physical way, I just shut down completely certain emotions). All of those were still there!
(unconscious: Why they did that in front of us?, why they talked bad about each other to us?, why we re punished if one did not keep his/her promises? if they fought, is it my fault? Why they don’t have time for me?…)
The message was clearly the world is danger and full of pain, home is not safe either, and there is no one to nurture and care.
Letting Go of the Past
Man, it has been a LONG, LONG journey to feel all of these hidden/unprocessed feelings & emotions.
I remember when I was in therapy , 10+ years ago, and I used to get completely blank when the therapist asked what I was feeling? There were times that I REALLY DID NOT KNOW what I was feeling.
The early age pain was so intense that my defense mechanism did not want to deal with it. And remember, I had the vivid images of what those emotions (explosive ones from caretakers) could do, the damage and confusion they could create. “if I let it out, chaos will take control of things.” Why would I want to go there? Not safe at all. But the range, and sadness were there, and unless I feel/felt them they would be hunting me and taking control of my life.
And that is/was the work of therapy, spiritual development , body work (yoga, exercises) did, they allowed me to feel. So, I’ve been transforming the old statement to “I will let those emotions out, because I feel safe, and I know I deserve love, joy and care! and I want to change myself.
This work was only possible because I felt SAFE (very important aspect). I want to wite about this another time.
Another important step: forgiveness. Forgiving other and specially myself.
So, by being able to identify my emotions, I could greatly contribute to understand how these feelings ended up here, have the courage to face and accept them – #healing…
Next steps, how I’m going to respond to them for now on.
So how does it work? What’s the difference between emotions and feelings? (I’m not a psychologist, so my descriptions here are basely on research and findings – if any psychologist have any insight, please feel free to add in).
We often use these words without any difference , so often exchangeable, that it all looks the same.
Emotions are lower level responses occurring in the subcortical regions of the brain (amygdala, which is part of the limbic system) and the neocortex (ventromedial prefrontal cortices, which deal with conscious thoughts, reasoning, and decision making). Those responses create biochemical and electrical reactions in the body that alter its physical state – technically speaking, emotions are neurological reactions to an emotional stimulus
Remember the previous post talking about the 3 brains? Check it out.
Fellings are the byproduct of the emotions and how emotions are conceptualized and given meaning…. A feeling is the mental and physical energetic signature of what is going on in your body and mind when you have an emotion.
As per Antonio D’Amasio, professor of neuroscience at The University of California and author of several books on the subject, explains it as:
Feelings are mental experiences of body states, which arise as the brain interprets emotions, themselves physical states arising from the body’s responses to external stimuli. (The order of such events is: I am threatened, experience fear, and feel horror.)
In a interview with Antonio R. Damasio
MIND Maganzine : You differentiate between feelings and emotions. How so?
Damasio: In everyday language we often use the terms interchangeably. This shows how closely connected emotions are with feelings. But for neuroscience, emotions are more or less the complex reactions the body has to certain stimuli. When we are afraid of something, our hearts begin to race, our mouths become dry, our skin turns pale and our muscles contract. This emotional reaction occurs automatically and unconsciously. Feelings occur after we become aware in our brain of such physical changes; only then do we experience the feeling of fear.
MIND: So, then, feelings are formed by emotions?
Damasio: Yes. The brain is constantly receiving signals from the body, registering what is going on inside of us. It then processes the signals in neural maps, which it then compiles in the so-called somatosensory centers. Feelings occur when the maps are read and it becomes apparent that emotional changes have been recorded—as snapshots of our physical state, so to speak.
And what are the emotions that first came to mind?
Ekman and Friesen (1971) concluded that there are six basic emotions shared by all humans:classyifing in happiness (in the picture below named content, and others classification as joy) , sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. More by MIT open Emotion discussion)
So, we know that there’s experience (positive or negative), bodily activation, perception and traits involved.
The meanings emotions take on and the feelings they prompt are individual based on our programming past and present.
Feelings are shaped by a person’s temperament and experiences and vary greatly from person to person and situation to situation.
Here is how they can be played differently on each person. ex. “I’ve since learned that I do get angry, often without noticing. For me, the physiological experience of anger often signifies danger, initiating feelings of fear. I am scared my anger will hurt something I value (like a relationship), so I become scared.
For someone else, a bully perhaps, their signals of anger might feel good, seeming empowering rather than dangerous. In fact, a bully may have learned that their fear is dangerous — just the opposite of me. A bully may be someone who overlooks their fear, feeling angry in response to physical indicators of fear. A fearful person may be someone who overlooks their anger, feeling fear in response to signs of their anger. Thus, the same emotional signals may cause very different feelings in dissimilar people.”
How Our Brains Feel Emotion