WE HAVE EMOTIONS FOR GOOD REASONS
– so now I welcome & work with them!
PREVIOUS: Repressing Emotions #2
Review post : “Getting to our Es – Under”
✥ Do you know what to say when you hear someone insist that emotions are a waste of time, unreliable, too much trouble? The next several posts will give important reasons – biological, personal & social – why we have them!
1. For SURVIVAL
• That’s the evolutionists’ answer. According to their theory, animals are aggressive & self-conscious (compared to rivers, mountains, plants….which have also survived) & humans are the most self-conscious, making us increasingly invested & crafty in our efforts to endure.
Over time we developed a wide range of Es & a complex rational thinking system, which allowed us to imagine our own past & future selves, giving us preeminence over fauna & flora. ‘”If you want to create a system that works hard to survive, make it be conscious and emotional. It will want to keep itself around!’”
• Researchers believe that Emotion, rather than logic, is the driving force in the human brain. Studies show that Es are responsible for neural integration – linking various brain functions (talking to each other) by tying together physical, cognitive, sensory & social processes, keeping us sane, healthy & functioning effectively
• Robert Plutchik, of the Emotion Wheel, wrote that the purpose of emotions is to form behavioral interactions between a person & a stimulus – event, thing or another person – so that when Es are acted on (correctly, of course) it brings the person back to a state of equilibrium — feeling ok / safe
EXP: You’re in the woods & see a bear loping towards you. You’re very afraid. The fear makes you run away, so the emotion served to produce an action that saves your life. You’re then returned to a calm state (eventually).
2. For CONNECTION
• Humans are fundamentally social animals, needing to rely on each other for survival. So we not only have personal feelings, but also social Es deeply embedded in our nature for connection. Es motivate & organize individual behavior & social interactions, as well as facilitate communication. Social needs include acceptance, prestige & access to certain people, events or resources, & provide a mirror for our feelings, attitudes & reality
• Belonging to a group or community gives us a sense of identity.
Researchers found that people are happier when they’re with others rather than too much alone – & the “boost” is the same for Introverts & Extroverts.
✶ Loving relationships are important to our well-being & happiness because they’re comforting, creating the psychological space & safety to explore & learn, which build inner resources for inevitable times of difficulty. AND positive effects are long-lasting. Strong emotional support also reduces immune system abnormalities that contribute to various stress-related disorders .
EXP: The success of the many 12-step Programs (AA, GA, OA / Al-anon, Gamanon, Oanon….). The Al-Anon closing says: “The welcome we give you may not show the warmth we have in our hearts for you. After a while, you’ll discover that though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way—the same way we already love you.”
Emotions that serve social functions:
• Guilt (not the ACoA type) when we’ve done something inappropriate or hurtful, to motivate us to make amends (AA’s 8th & 9th Step)
• Responsibility (not co-dependence) to keep us from harming others, or to help where needed….
• Altruism, going beyond passively ‘behaving’ oneself to not cause social problems, to active participation in groups & organizations providing relief for the needy & suffering
3. For UNITY
• Because Emotions are universal, the ‘positive’ ones may help overcome prejudice & divisions. Many cultural, religious & political beliefs tragically, even fatally, separate us. But Es – such as empathy, cooperation, forgiveness & heroism – can help.
• Caring: listening to concerns of others helps them feel understood & valued
• Faith: a Spiritual belief providing wise rules (of right & wrong) can connect us to like-mined people
• Music (& other art forms) emotionally link artist & a wide public
• Laughter: a universal language that makes people feel good
• Love: fostering acceptance, compassion, education, responsibility, understanding, & spiritual growth.
NEXT: For survival #2