To understand emotion is to understand who we are and to comprehend something of the complexity of ourselves. Emotion heats up in us for pleasure and pain every day we live, and it does so many times each day. But it doesn’t rise to the same intensity in all of us. Hence we feel and become familiar with it to different degrees. But how often do we find ourselves really thinking about emotions?
Emotion’s Connection to Who We Feel and Think We Are
Who we feel and think we are is largely due to our familiarity or unfamiliarity with our emotions’ felt surges. The more intense the surges are that attempt to capture our attention and decide our actions, the more we feel we are emotional beings. Just like we often label ourselves, we label other people by how we observe the intensity of their emotions. This is not a reliable evaluation because a person may be emotionally expressive — even explosive — and equally rational in their judgments, making them a puzzling mix in how they make their decisions. However, its intensity is not the only way emotion gives us a sense of who we are. The value we place on our emotions and the value (or otherwise) others place on our emotional expressiveness is equally, if not more, an indication of who we are.
Sometimes the way we label emotional people is more an indication of our critical assessment of their behavior and whether it leaves us with a distasteful or pleasant reaction. Emotions can attract us to people or repulse us quickly and lastingly. It is important, therefore, to evaluate our own thinking about emotions.
We Give Emotions Value Based on Their Object or Goal
Emotions are also valued by the object or goal we or others attach to them. It is largely the goal the emotions are assumed to be driving toward that awakens those feelings of good or ill. Intensity, value, and goals form the initial grid that defines a person’s emotional status in our minds.
Thoughts like “I love the warmth but dislike the volatility” (or lack of these things) can cause judgments of unwanted and puzzling complexity that create a lasting like or dislike and can form the basis of our judgments of others. That can lead us down a critical path of rejection and repulsiveness — even toward our children and even if they are not understood and appreciated for many of their other wonderful characteristics. Expressed emotions are who we are in the moment and can be who we are at our core.
Three Things We Need to Do When Thinking About Emotions
- Self-evaluation can save us from continuing in our damaging expression of emotion or it can further inspire the development of emotion’s rewarding strengths.
- Valuing the difference in the nature and expression of emotions in others can create valuable relationships. Learn to value emotional expression are different from our own.
- Become aware of judgments based on emotional expressions. They are far too complex to understand without further questions to unpack their intent and meaningful complexities.
In my new book Who Am I?, I describe how we have become “crooked thinkers” and how to break out of this prison of the mind to become instruments of change for a better world by recognizing the source of our value as humans. You can get your copy HERE. (Psst! Subscribers to my weekly updates can receive a 15% discount and free shipping from that link!)
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THE WAY TO HAVE A HEALTHY MENTAL SYSTEM
WEEKLY HELP FOR YOUR MIND/BRAIN
This weekly addition to my articles provides practical guidance for the application of commonly known facts about brain health.
WHY WE NEED TO EXERCISE OUR BODIES TO DEVELOP AND FEED OUR BRAINS
BONUS Reason 6: Seek a rich environment in which to exercise your body. Outdoors is best, if you can. Fresh air and the negative ions from natural sources are health-giving factors as well as creative stimulants.
Make a place in your room or home that is rich with pictures, colors, memories, and meaning to you. Devote that sequestered nook to thinking and mental pursuits as well. The minimalist approach to living and working spaces was, and is, a step backward. Wow! Know this: Rich, complicated environments — even for rats (as the experiments proved) — encourage brain growth.
Don’t forget that the renewal and refreshment that such places provide for both physical and mental exercise is a way to keep life ever new. Be creative. Make it a place where you long to be, and when you use it, you will feel the waves of inventiveness flow best in your mind and body.