WE HAVE EMOTIONS FOR GOOD REASONS
– so now I welcome & work with them!
PREVIOUS: Repressing Emotions
Review post : “Getting to our Es – Under”
REMINDER: Use Acronyms Page for abbrevs.
✥ 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. SOCIAL NEEDS
a. For SURVIVAL
• The evolutionists’ answer is that Es have helped us survive. According to this theory, animals are aggressive & self-conscious (compared to rivers, mountains, plants….which have also survived) & humans are the most self-conscious of the animals, making us increasingly invested & crafty in our efforts to endure. Over time we developed a wide range of emotions & 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. Recent studies show that Es are responsible for neural integration – linking various brain functions (how they talk to each other) by tying together physical, cognitive, sensory & social processes. Es therefore allow our bodies, thoughts & senses to coordinate – keeping us sane, healthy & functioning effectively
• Robert Plutchik, of the Emotion Wheel, wrote that the purpose of emotions is to form an interaction between a person & a stimulus – event, thing or another person – so that when the emotions are acted on (correctly, of course) it brings the person back to a state of equilibrium, ie. feeling ok / safe
Expl: You’re in the woods & see a bear loping towards you. You’re very afraid. The fear makes you run away, so the emotion has served to produce an action that saves your life, by allowing you to reach safety. You are then returned to a calm state (eventually).
b. For CONNECTION
• Humans are fundamentally social animals, intensely relying on each other for survival, so we not only have personal emotions, but also specific social Es deeply embedded in our nature that connect us to the actions & emotions of others. Es motivate & organize our individual behavior & social interactions, as well as facilitate communication. Social needs include the need for acceptance, prestige & access to certain people, events or resources, since others provide a mirror for our feelings, attitudes & reality
• Belonging to a group or community gives us a sense of identity.
Researchers have found that people are happier when they’re with others rather than too much alone – and the “boost” is the same for introverts as for extroverts. Strong emotional support also reduces immune system abnormalities that contribute to numerous disorders due to stress.
People are more likely to stay in fulfilling relationships because they continue to feel good from the closeness they experience, & the positive effects of these connections are long-lasting.
Exp: The success of the many 12-step Programs (AA, GA, OA, Al-anon, Gamanon, Oanon….). The Al-Anon closing includes the statement: “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.”
✶ Loving relationships are important to our well-being & happiness because they create the psychological space & safety to explore & learn, which builds our resources for inevitable times of difficulty.
• Emotions that primarily serve a social function bridge the gap between ourselves and others, helping us to feel a part of a larger whole. Exp:
— legitimate guilt (not the ACoA type) makes us realize we’ve done something inappropriate or hurt another person, which can motivate us to make amends (8th & 9th Step of AA)
— feeling responsible (not co-dependent) can keep us from harming others or be of help where it’s needed….
— social altruism, going beyond passively ‘behaving’ oneself in order to not cause social problems, leads to active participation in groups & organizations that provide relief for the needy & the suffering
c. For UNITY
• Because Emotions are universal, the ‘positive’ ones are a great potential source of uniting all members of the human race. Various religious, cultural & political beliefs tragically & even fatally divided us. But Es such as empathy, cooperation, forgiveness & heroism can bring people together.
SOURCES that generate powerful Es which can unite humanity —
— Caring: careful listening to the emotional concerns of others can help people feel understood, important & cared about
— Faith: a widely held ideology, not necessarily religion, that we believe in with great conviction, which gives us absolute rules (the right or the wrong ways to live) & that can help us feel connected to like-mined people at home & all over the world
— Music (& other art forms) emotionally linking artist & a vast public, and unites all humanity via its most basic traits
— Laughter: a universal language that makes people feel good & so helps us change for the better, and from there we can change the world in positive, peaceful ways
— Love: can unite humanity by fostering compassion, responsibility, acceptance, understanding, education & spiritual growth.
NEXT: For Communication