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Emotions
 

The basic emotions are about approach and avoidance which can also be thought of as growth and protection. Essentially, growth is about food and procreation and protection is about safety and survival. In ancient Greece, Epicurus said that though all pleasures are good and all pains evil, that not all pleasures are choiceworthy or all pains to be avoided.

Emotion is a kind of automatic scanning of your situation to see where you stand.  Life tends to be messy and ususally there is not a rational choice without complications.  But often we have to choose quickly and when there isn't time to figure things out we must act instinctually. If a child burns his finger on a stove, his body remembers that, and the next time it happens his body actually starts removing the finger by reflex, before there is any conscious awareness of the pain. So negative emotions are said to be hard wired, a kind of  built-in defense mechanism for our own protection against danger. In fact Negative Emotions are alarm clocks designed to wake us up to take corrective action. Positive emotions help guide us to food and love.

Emotion was once regarded as a base instinct to be subdued or repressed. Now scientists increasingly view it  as a safeguard of survival and an enrichment of experience. Indeed there is a close link between emotional experience and creativity. If we have a dream, it just might come true.  Goals are mental representations of what we want to do, who we want to be, and what we are emotionally committed to.
 

"Not very long ago, emotion was thought to be the exclusive province of poets.... Now, a new science of emotion is discovering pathways in our brains that create powerful emotional memories. Normally these protect us against repeating harmful encounters and guide us to what's good. But science is just now beginning to understand how emotional memories can also become prisons when hijacked by anxiety or trauma."                   - National Institute of Mental Health


The STAR MAN, (in the movie of the same name), editorialized from his unique extra-terrestrial point of view that, " you (humans) are at your best when things are at their worst. Often we rise to the occasion by calling on on our inner (emotional) reserves to act out our ideals and bring them about in the face of a terrific struggle. Just when the environment is about to evoke our personality, there is an epiphany resulting in a kind of emotional quantum leap. Aha!

We tend to imagine our influence and control of events and people around us to be greater that it ultimately .may be. And we tend to minimize the extent of our ability to manage our own emotions. In fact this is the one area of our lives where knowledge and attention to detail makes the greatest difference. A thought comes and produces a certain feeling in the body. The brain thinks that is what it is designed to do. Our job is to choose which thoughts to actualize or give energy to.

Our emotions are shaped by our beliefs -- by what we tell ourselves. Candace Pert, who discovered opiate receptors and got a Nobel Prize, said that emotions are the "glue that holds the cells of the organism together." But of the six basic or so-called core emotions (happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust, anger, and fear), only one positive emotion (happiness) on the list. Probably because emotions are human beings' warning systems as to what is really going on around them.

Emotions have the potential to serve us today as a delicate and sophisticated internal guidance system. Our emotions alert us when natural human need is not being met. When we feel uncomfortable or afraid, our need for safety is unmet. Experiences of negative emotion are inevitable and at times useful. Even so, extreme or prolonged periods rooted in negative emotions, can bring about  related health problems such as anxiety, depression, aggression, and stress.

The amygdala is the part of the brain involved in producing and responding to nonverbal signs of anger, avoidance, defensiveness, and fear. It is the key structure in the brain's integration of emotional meaning with perception and experience. The amygdala complex is composed of two almond-shaped, fingernail sized structures that are richly and reciprocally connected to most brain areas, especially advanced sensory processing areas.

The amygdala is capable of initiating a sequences of chemical reactions which create extreme energy. Its principal task is to filter and interpret  incoming sensory information in the context of our survival and emotional needs, and then to help initiate appropriate responses such as fight or flight. Many excited gestures, grimaces, avoidance and protective postures reflect the amygdala's turmoil. Some brains are evidently a bit more efficient in creating such energy, as it comes quite readily.

Our emotions are shaped by our beliefs -- by what we tell ourselves. Clearly, our various religious, cultural and political beliefs have not united us. Far too often, in fact, they have tragically and even fatally divided us. Ignorance and closed minded belief systems can virtually destroy resiliency which helps us survive and "thrive." Emotions, on the other hand, are universal. That which is classic is that which touches us all.

The challenge is how to learn to use that energy in a constructive way more often than in a destructive way. There are some general guidelines for managing negative emotions. Be aware of  destructive feelings that drain your energy and kill your motivation. "Am I feeling pessimistic or resentful about something? Am I feeling hopeless or discouraged?" A more intense form of disappointment is bitterness.

Giving other people the power to make us happy is a surefire formula for pain and suffering. The pain comes when we expect to be treated a certain way, when we expect a certain response and we don't get it. Ask yourself, "Am I looking for something on the outside to happen before I will feel happy? Am I feeling too dependent on someone?"

Consider the parent who tells the child "I am utterly disappointed in you," or, "you really disappointed me." Think for a moment how you feel when someone says such things to you. You feel guilty, blamed, inadequate, unworthy, ashamed. These are not feelings we want to cultivate in our children! Where there is shame or guilt, there is chaos and emotional voids that tend to fill with darkness.

The parent who uses disappointment or shame doesn't consider the long term damages to the child's self-esteem. The parent is simply using guilt as an expedient way to emotionally manipulate the child as a form of control.  Disappointment in another person is basically a form of rejection and disapproval. It is powerful and toxic.

Toxic emotions may result in excessive, unreasonable or unneeded fears and traumatic memories, such as a fear of heights, flying, the dark, bugs, public speaking, taking tests, meeting people, asserting one's self, being away from home and many other situations such as confrontation of any kind. We push away some of our thoughts because we are afraid of them, but closing off pain and hurt is not the answer, since this also closes off its polar opposite, peace and love.

Emotions change hormone levels, and hormone levels change emotions.  As human beings we experience change, in fact the very basis of life is change. Resisting change is the cause of suffering. Fearing change doesn't stop it from coming, it just makes the journey uncomfortable and sometimes unbearable. Acceptance of each moment is the key to living a serene, happy life. Acceptance doesn't require that you like what is happening in that moment.

By practicing, accepting and allowing all of our own thoughts and feelings without pushing them away, without making them bad or wrong, we will in turn learn to accept and allow other people's thoughts and feelings. How do we do this?

Negative emotions help us avoid danger, while positive emotions help us approach what we need to survive (food, shelter, and procreation). For example, during our reproductive years we respond to the secondary sexual characteristics of a potential mate in subtle ways we may not really be aware of. The very lucrative cosmetics industry is actually based on the simple premesis of placing epmhasis on the eyes, lips, complexion, and hair -- personal advertisements of suitability for mating.

Negative emotions are backward focused, and are more automatic, while positive emotions are about the future, and need to be cultivated by engaging the imagination in constructive ways. Taking Positive Emotions Seriously means Cultivating Positive Emotions to Optimize Health and Well-Being. 

The "pursuit of happiness" amounts to learned optimism, a conscious choice not to be overwhelmed by negativity. Positive emotions are more than the absence of negative emotions. The capacity to experience positive emotions remains an often untapped human strength. Positive emotions can have effects beyond making people "feel good" or improving their subjective experiences of life. They also have the potential to broaden people's habitual modes of thinking and build their physical, intellectual, and social resources.

Emotions affect endocrine levels and studies have shown that contentment and joy speed recovery from the cardiovascular aftereffects of negative emotions. Contentment and amusement share the ability to undo negative emotional arousal. Moreover, correctional evidence suggests that the undoing effect may extend beyond speeding physiological recovery. In other words, their effects are likely to go beyond treating and preventing problems that stem from negative emotions and into the realm of building personal strength, resilience, and wellness.

Positive emotions broaden and build and open people's mindsets, enabling creative and flexible thinking. Finding positive meaning in adverse circumstances may thus be another case of positive emotions undoing negative emotions, which helps build resilience to future adversities. These resources are durable, and can be drawn on later, long after the instigating experience of joy has subsided, and it does appear to have reliable outcomes. In general terms, this positive affect "enlarges the cognitive context" and leads to increases in brain dopamine levels, and may stimulate the release of various healing substances in the body.

A sense of well being can be cultivated through the use of alpha brainwaves and relaxation practices, range from more traditional forms, like meditation and yoga, originating in India and Asia, to more modern forms, like progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback, developed in the West. Despite obvious dissimilarities across these forms, empirical studies have shown that each form effectively treats problems rooted in, negative emotions, including anxiety disorders.

People have long held the intuition that positive emotions are somehow incompatible with negative emotions. Therapists and researchers and have long operated on this intuition, either explicitly or implicitly. Joy and related positive emotions (e.g., exhilaration and amusement) can be described as broadening an individual's thought-action repertoire. During most positive emotions that repertoire is broad, yielding flexible, receptive, and to some degree unpredictable thinking and action. 

During most negative emotions that repertoire is narrow, yielding fixated, less receptive, and more predictable thinking and action. Positive emotions and negative emotions are fundamentally incompatible because a person's thought– action repertoire cannot be simultaneously broad and narrow.

Finding ways to cultivate positive emotions will forge paths towards health and well-being. This  is sometimes referred to as emotional intelligence. It involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one's thinking and actions. The most effective way to suceed is to see yourself already having accomplished your goal, and to hold this image in your consciousness as often as possible.

Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness and impulse control, persistence, zeal and self-motivation, empathy and social deftness. These are the qualities that mark people who excel in real life. Forgiveness and acceptance lead to inner peace and better physical health. In the antique cultures this was often referred to as the wisdom of the heart.

 
LINKS
  • What Are Emotions? - Interviews with EQ experts, including Jack Mayer, Eric Jensen, Candace Pert, Anabel Jensen, Maurice Elias, John Steinberg, and J-P Dupreez offer new perspectives.
  • Emotion - All about emotions and affective control theories in social psychology. About.Com Category.
  • Molecules of Emotion, by neuroscientist Candace Pert
  • Importance of Emotions - As I see it and understand it from my studies, here are the a few of the reasons our emotions are important in our lives. The first few chapters of Goleman's 1995 book
  • Origin and Nature of Emotions - George W. Crile
  • Cultivating Positive Emotions to Optimize Health and Well-Being - Barbara L.Fredrickson University of Michigan ... Taking Positive Emotions Seriously.
  • Emotion the Key to Discovering True Self - Emotion is energy meant to flow. Not owning our anger, fear and grief blocks our inner channel and access to the higher vibrational emotional energy that is intuitive Truth-Spiritual Teacher
  • Emotion Management - Emotion management is a key life skill. It's part of the ultimate life skills stress management package. Get a free introductory life skill course at this site. 
  • Methods of Changing Emotions - Psychological Self-Help
  • The Emotion Page - was one of the earliest developments in our emotion model, and one of the most fruitful. The cube in based on the assumption that emotion and cognitive development are inseparably
  • The Body Talks Chart - This self help Chart will help you become aware of how our emotions (our unexpressed emotions) can effect the physical body
  • The basic emotions of daily life - A Ph.D. dissertation about the basic variables of the emotional system. A theory and an empirical study. Elaborates and supports Charles Darwin approach. 
  • New Scientist Planet Science: Emotions - Getting to grips with fear is a piece of cake compared with laughter, discovers Bob Holmes. Fake emotions: The smart machines of the future will need feelings
  • Why We Feel:The Science of Human Emotions - Color version of the female Caucasian face evolved in the last study. As promised, the results of all the studies are discussed in my new book "Why We Feel".
  • Emotions and Emotional Intelligence -  an on-line bibliography in the area of emotions
  • Emotional Intelligence - This is the other IQ - the EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Here is everything you want to learn about it
  • Philosophy and the Emotions... The Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference 2001. Philosophy and the Emotions. University of Manchester.
  • Emotional Disturbances - Emotional disturbances and special education
  • Emotional Eating - If you eat in response to your feelings, especially when you are not hungry, you may be suffering from emotional eating.
  • Emotional Aspects Of Arthritis - Arthritis impacts people physically and emotionally.
  • Babies' Emotions- Mental Health Resources - Affect Theory explains Babies' Emotions better than Cognitive Theories
  • Emotional and Social Development - The groundwork of human emotional and social development begins early in life. Learn more about the process, and how you can promote the healthy emotional and social development of your child.
  •  Change emotions into motion by Dr. Judy Citron - This Diet Coach weekly column suggests that we may have been conditioned as children to have food as a reward....
  • Emotion  - The process of asking the Universe/Creation/God-spirit for something is, in a sense, a prayer. For very effective results it should involve the process of visualization. And the more real the visualization ...
  • Eradicate Unwanted Emotions - Offers a new theory that enables one to get rid of unwanted feelings. Information on Panacea - a new computer program you use in the privacy of your own home.
  • Emotions and Emotional Intelligence - Bibliography and descriptions of current research findings and notes of interest.
  • Science/Social_Sciences/Psychology/Intelligence/Emotional_Intelligence
  • Emotions Surrounding Chronic Illnesses - Understanding the Emotions Surrounding Chronic Illness Understanding: "the act, state or feeling of a person who understands; comprehension,...
  • HealthEmotions - Scientifically determining how emotions influence health - The HealthEmotions Research Institute seeks to use state-of-the-art scientific methods developed for the study of illness to study the relationship...
  • Emotionsand Biofeedback Without Instruments - cognitive theory of emotion and a self-help technique for the improve of the quality of life with free down-load self-help book and more.
  • Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
  •  Biology Of Emotions - an article presenting some possibilities for self help with anxiety, fear, and depression by releasing anger.
  • Jane's Brain Page - Hoping to provide a view of brain chemistry for the layman, this resource includes discussions of personality disorders, emotions and perception.
  • The Emotion Home Page -  A Historical Perspective on Emotion . Places & People . Conferences, Journals, and On-line Resources.
  • Forsyth's Motivation and Emotion Page - Motivation and Emotion Resources Overview of Psychology Research Methods Developmental Processes Intelligence and Testing Learning Memory and Cognition Motivation and Emotion
  • CSEA Home Page - how the human brain processes emotionally evocative stimuli- how such stimulation determines affective expression, verbal report, behavior and patterns of physiological reactivity (visceral, somatic and central neural events.)
  • Geneva Emotion Research Group -  part of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences (FAPSE) at the University of Geneva . We conduct research into many aspects of emotions, including experimental studies
  •  Emotions Anonymous - A Twelve Step program for people whose emotions are causing difficulties in their lives. Emotions Anonymous is based on the same program introduced and used by Alcoholics Anonymous. If your emotions, such as depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, anger, compulsions, obsessions. Emotions Anonymous World Meeting List
  • Simply Love  - Promoting Loving Relationships Worldwide -Welcome to Simply Love!
  • Hard Wired for God? - book of same title - review
  • Heart Whispers Healing Journeys -  where healing, creativity and spirituality are woven together, offering opportunities for women to - access their inner wisdom. This is an invitation to listen to your Heart Whispers and join in -The Heart Speaks - MistaFi's Heart of Wisdom The Heart Speaks Love Patience Kindness Hope To have peace, make not war.
  • Open Heart - Visit us to explore the power of unconditional love, the magical Lighten Up process and the opportunity to participate in a world peace experiment.
  • THE HEART OF WISDOM (HEART SUTRA) -  Parallel Tibetan and English, with recorded Tibetan audio clips of each page. 
  • The Impact of Emotions   - Bruce Lipton
  • Emotions on YouTube

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