Can We “Choose” an Emotion?

It seems natural to follow a discussion of the ultrasonic brain with the question “Do we choose an emotion or do they choose us?” The answer is: both. We have been discussing what happens when emotions choose us — the automatic first surge. Emotions are most often a reaction to our world and in all cases, when an emotion rises as a result of our engagement with the world, it is choosing us and surging in us without our having the opportunity to decide whether we want it or not.  However, we can choose an emotion.

WHAT?  How Can We CHOOSE an Emotion?

We can decide to do something nice for someone for no reason except a sudden decision to show love. In this case, we choose the emotion.   We initiate it. We do not believe we are being forced to show love. Our brain is not making us show this love.  We decided to do it.  It was our free choice. We do not live well with the thought that we are automatons, that our brains control us — at least we don’t act as though we are. It is our belief that we can control, change, alter, deny, and choose our emotions whenever we want. We have always lived with this consciousness. Anything else is unthinkable for truly free, self-conscious beings.

If  We Cannot Choose Our Emotions, We Are Not Free!

Consider the alternative. Either we are right in our understanding of how we live our lives or we are disturbingly deceived. To maintain that emotions always choose us and motivate us is to say that we do not possess free will. It would be constantly de-motivating to believe we never freely choose to make a decision and that some force within us programs all our actions, emotional or otherwise. Just like we can’t live without meaning, so we can’t live without a sense of being creators of our own destiny.

We Choose an Emotion in the “Window of Opportunity”

Therefore, when we confront danger and our emotions react first, we have an opportunity to make an evaluation of the situation and of our emotional response (the window of opportunity). When we choose an emotion rather than when it chooses us, we call on our rational faculties and make the decision before the emotion is initiated (the window of free choice).

Observe Your Children When They Choose an Emotion

We see it in our children. Sometimes our child chooses to tease a playmate and sometimes an emotion in response to what the playmate has done chooses them. Either way, the situation requires them to make an evaluation of their emotion and decide what to do about it — a real struggle for the child. For all of us, it is our responsibility to make a decision about our actions. When we choose the emotion and act accordingly, we make the decision first.   When the emotion chooses us, we must seize the window of opportunity that opens after we become aware of the emotion and its consequences. It is not easy to train the most complex organism in the universe to think about their emotions because changing or even evaluating our emotions is not what we want to do most of the time.



Intelligently Emotional Book CoverMy hope is that this book will lead you, as its content has led many others, to be intelligently emotional. If it helps you to develop the intelligent use of your emotions and a rewarding lifestyle, my labor will not have been in vain.  You can access it HERE.  If you are subscribed to our weekly updates, our next issue will provide a link to purchase it with a 15% discount and free shipping.





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