Know Your Emotions
March 31, 2020
Whenever I have a passionate argument about something(most times it’s about Cricket) with my son, he uses a powerful comeback- “you are getting emotional.”
When my son makes the statement, he may be implying that I am not emotional in the ordinary course of a day. That is not true.
Even in our most mundane moments, drinking a cup of coffee, watching a movie, chatting with spouse, or reading a newspaper, we all experience emotions. More so in today’s COVID-19 era, a casual glance at our Whatapp forwards will stir up feelings of disgust, anger, annoyance, anxiety.
We don a lens of emotions throughout our conscious experience, and these color our perception and opinion about ourselves and the world around us.
Emotions are also the magic ingredient that makes our life interesting. Imagine if every event in our life triggered the same emotion what would happen to our life. We would lose all perspective. It would not matter if you were famous or destitute, healthy or sick, employed or jobless, alone or with a companion. Life would be as mundane as the exotic dishes at a restaurant, all with the same taste.
All emotions have some intrinsic attributes, and they tend to have an impact on how we behave. The picture below presents the different emotional states on an intensity continuum.
Each emotional state has a specific characteristic that we project onto our present experience and that distorts the experience itself. The same person behaves differently depending upon the emotional state.
- When I am angry, I become cynical. I see people around me as a threat. I look for reasons to attack them or condemn them. I become hyper defensive about my point of view. I reject any other viewpoint, even if it may be right.
- When I am in the grip of fear, I start getting paranoid about the potential downside in everything around me. I exaggerate the possibility of failure and miss out on obvious positive cues. I shy away from any positive actions and start looking for excuses.
- When I am in the grip of euphoria, I start believing that I can do no wrong. I start imagining that I can take chances and risks that I would not otherwise have considered. I become reckless.
- When I am contemptuous, I judge everything negatively. I have no empathy. I am likely to be abrasive and derogatory.
- When I am prideful, I may have an overbearing sense of my importance that belittles the efforts of others around me.
When I become more mindful, I will be able to sense for myself what emotional state I am in, and I can then bring my intelligence to help me adjust my behavior. If I am in a state of fear, my intelligent response could be to ignore the fear and do what is needed. If I am in a state of euphoria, my thoughtful reaction could be to temper down and not take any drastic steps that could hurt me later.
Just like feelings are the language of the body, emotions are the language of the mind. We must teach ourselves and our children how to interpret this language of our mind so that we know how best to moderate our behaviors to deal with our different emotional states.
Acknowledgement for the image: Taken from the Cognition, Affect, and Learning by Barry Kort http://tinyurl.com/Cognition-Affect-Learning