The solution to our emotional storms is not in venting or suppressing them, but in improving our intelligence around our emotional minds. That is how we can navigate even through an emotional hurricane.
What Is Emotion?
If our minds are stimuli receptacles, then our emotions are our reactions to the stimuli.
Emotions are like alarm bells that incite us to act in certain ways.
Some emotions can last for a few seconds while others last for a lifetime.
When intense, they can force us to behave in unimaginable ways, like eating uncontrollably or cutting ourselves with a blade.
When our emotions compel us to act, our physiological state gets exploited.
For example, when filled with excitement, our blood pressure increases, and blood flows to our hands, sometimes forcing us to make a fist, break a nearby object, feel butterflies in our stomach; or maybe dance.
These and many more are our inclinations as humans.
But why do we have these emotions?
To understand the significance of our emotions, let us travel back in time quickly to the beginning of human evolution.
Where Did Emotions Come From?
According to science, humans come from the same ancestors as the chimps, but millions of years of evolution have not only turned us into more logical beings but also highly emotional entities.
The logical part is evident in the technological advancement we see today, but the emotional endowment is elusive. So let’s look deeper.
In the expansion of the modern brain, a structure called “the Limbic system” came into existence. And this system has been identified to be the emotional part of our brain.
Hence, a complication in the limbic systems will likely create a deficit in the way we function – since they are responsible for our emotions and our emotions trigger our actions.
For instance, there are stories of people who, after going through brain surgery, experienced a severe personality transformation – sometimes from being an “empathetic fellow” to being a “robocop.”
These “sad” stories prove our emotions are essential in our making – who we are and what we do.
But sometimes it appears to be a difficult task to choose between who we are and what we do.
The Inherent Conflict (Why Do We Do Things We Don’t Like To Do?)
There is a notable, continual tension between our heads and hearts (i.e. the logical mind and emotional mind).
I am certain you have experienced this kind of conflict at different points in your life;
You might have found yourself saying things like
“He’s a cheat but I want to kiss and hug him tightly.”
“The jewelry was way beyond my budget but she’s worth it.”
Although, this isn’t the sense I am driving at.
The point is, that our emotions dictate and enable us to act the way we do; which makes us “individuals” with different paths in life.
The Role Of Our Emotions (Why Did Humans Develop Emotions?)
Our emotions go beyond the impression of who cares about us or what the future holds. It goes beyond throwing out the middle finger at people’s faces, reckless passion, malice, or relationships, eating the entire grocery in the refrigerator, or slitting the wrist with a knife.
Our emotions give color to life; They enlighten us where barren logic breaks down.
Moral emotion experts believe that emotions play a huge role in the choices we make.
We wipe out an essential part of us when we try to liberate ourselves from emotions.
In other words, without emotions we may no longer have any nostalgia for our old family or graduation pictures – they will become just paper snapshots; nothing of humanistic value to us.
And, without these sentiments, are we any different from animals?
To fully appreciate the true usefulness of our emotions; we have to understand what emotional intelligence is.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, examine and regulate our emotions.
It’s a vital skill to learn because logical thinking isn’t the only yardstick we use in deciding for ourselves and assessing people we associate with.
Without control over our emotions, our lives become a mess.
With that said; here are four ways you can improve your emotional intelligence so you can lead a better life.
4 Steps To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence;
- Understand your emotions; you need to uncover the reasons behind them – this is the basis. You can’t have smoke without a spark – find out what made you excited or distressed.
- Guide your emotions; Suppose you have faced a hectic day at work or a misunderstanding with a friend. Would you lose your cool, or would you try to keep your cool? Once you’ve identified the source of the spark, ensure to not burn yourself or others – control them.
- Transform your emotions into a positive force; Our emotions are not necessarily good or evil, how we interpret them determines our reactions. Grief, for example, may teach us about gratitude and how to have a realistic view of life. Fear may also be interpreted as a caution bell that warns us of repeating a harmful habit. Take a step back and extract the benefits of your emotional responses
- Finally, recognize emotions in others; After being able to identify and control your emotions, you must strive to see them in other people; After all, we are all emotional creatures. This act is known as empathy.
Developing empathy is one way to help others sail through emotional storms. By responding to other people’s emotions as though they were ours we improve our understanding of emotions and grow into better, respectable people.
To those who hope to get rid of their emotions. I might understand why.
But in the absence of them, we grow gray or robotic – it unleashes horrible possibilities and increases our suffering and that of others.
I encourage you to be masters of your emotions; because you can ride a life full of emotional storms and hurricanes using emotional intelligence.
PPA & FAQ Section: The What, Why, And How Of Emotions And Emotional Intelligence
I’ve attempted to answer as many related questions as I can. However, if you have any questions I didn’t capture, please leave them in the comment section.
What’s the difference between emotions and feeling?
If emotions are like an alarm bell that incites us to action, our feeling is how we perceive the sound of the bell.
This explains why sometimes anger feels like disappointment and in a different situation, it feels like envy – it may feel like burning, or it may feel like a weight upon you.
Is sadness a bad emotion?
Like other emotions, it’s there to help you respond to yourself and your environment. You only need to apply emotional intelligence to it.
Are women more emotional than men or is that just a stereotype?
No, they are not.
But Some research has suggested that women express emotions more often than men.
Are emotions contagious?
Have you been to a party or a funeral service? The chances are, by default you’d feel happy or unhappy when you see your neighbor dancing or moaning.
Can we hold people responsible for their emotions?
Emotions are natural. But our reaction to them is our responsibility.
Can our emotions harm people other than us?
Reacting recklessly to our emotions might cause us to harm others, directly or indirectly.
Is it wrong to criticize a person’s emotion?
It’s easy to concentrate on the flaws of another, and difficult to see our imperfections.
Criticizing a person’s emotion sometimes is a no-win situation. It might result in a negative impact – creating distance and resentment.
Emotional intelligent people will often show empathy and encourage others to improve on their weaknesses.
Can we control our emotions, and how?
The six-second model is one way to do it. You do this by simply waiting for 6 seconds for your brain to (properly) process the sensory information before reacting.
David Ifeanyi is a writer and a photographer, with a decent background in music (as a guitarist and songwriter). He was also recognized as a promising young talent in art during Secondary school.
David cares so much about his family, friends and appreciates the beauty of humanity.
He uses his art to help people with their personal development, mental health, and relationships, whilst simultaneously illuminating different shades of our daily lives.