EMOTIONS GIVE IMPORTANT INFO
– how I feel & respond to the world
PREVIOUS: Communication #2
Review post : “Getting to our Es – Over”
SEE Acronyms Page for abbrev.
1. = SOCIAL NEEDS
2. INDIVIDUAL NEEDS
a. To Feel ALIVE
The over-all purpose of Es is to experience & get the most out of life.
They are spontaneous responses to everything inside & outside of ourselves. They’re what make us feel alive – both the thrills & chills – telling us who we are BY how we feel about our experiences. The more an event or person means to us, the more intense our emotional response.
Without Es we would be like robots (“Computer Role”). A healthy, integrated life includes having access to a full range of Es. They are meant to surface temporarily & then pass thru us, so we can feel other ones as we go thru our daily routines. When an emotion is experienced to the fullest & allowed to run its course, it dissolves like smoke & can be remembered with a smile – even if it was unpleasant !
• DAMAGE: Anyone who is physically healthy but emotionally cut off (‘average’ narcissists & secretly angry ‘nice’ people) has trouble identifying with other people’s feelings, & so can do a lot of harm – often without realizing.
If someone’s damage isn’t too severe (as in NPDs & psychopaths) their emotional numbness can be modified, if they’re willing to do the ‘thawing out’ work.
A medical parallel can be made with autistic people, who have a disability in recognizing facial & body cues. (“The Body & Es, Part 2”) This limits their capacity to identify Es in others & therefore to make ‘normal’ emotional attachments & social connections. However, autistic people do have feelings, & if taught early in life to identify physical cues, they can lead more satisfying lives
• Positive Psychology tells us that psychological life-satisfaction & well-being come from participating in activities that boost pleasant Es, which then allow us to discover & use our character strengths & virtues.
It offers 4 broad pathways that can help enhance these Es, in order to experience happiness more often:
Of joy & pleasure, Of love & relationships, Of peace & tranquility, Of hope & resilience
b. For SELF-AWARENESS
“Self-Perception Theory” & “Cognitive Appraisal Theories of Emotion” suggest that we figure out our Es – by staying awake & observing ourselves. They provide us with inner guidance, internal indicators of what’s good & bad for us, & what our needs are
But each person differs in the amount that suits them best, just as some people require more water, food or sleep than others. One person may need freedom & independence while another security & continual social connections. Some may have a need to ‘understand’ life & satisfy a great curiosity, while others are content to accept whatever they’ve been taught
Es also alert us when any natural, normal need is not being met. They are a signal for us to pay attention & deal with the lack – hopefully something appropriate & empowering. So, when we feel:
• lonely, we know we’re not connected (enough) with others
• afraid, we know we don’t feel safe, for self or loved ones
• rejected, we know we aren’t being accepted, respected, valued….
We couldn’t appreciate life if our emotions disappeared:
– How long could we physically survive if we never felt fear?
– Why would we want to apologize if guilt was not available?
– How could we miss the company of others if we couldn’t feel loneliness?
• ACoAs grew up in environments where our Es were constantly minimized, invalidated & punished, making is very hard to get our legitimate human needs & distresses taken seriously.
It taught us to not trust our feelings, but it didn’t take away those original needs!
In reaction, some of us increased the intensity of our Es & how we expressed them (dramatic – but NOT crazy) , desperately trying to be heard.
Others decreased the strength & expression of most or all Es (withdrawn & invisible), making it hard to be seen, leaving us even more emotionally ‘starved’!
NEXT: Awareness #2