Emotional feeling is what makes us human. Those who do not feel emotions appear indifferent and callous. However, feelings and emotions are not the same thing. The latter are much more complex. Sometimes they are so overwhelming that you lose control of your actions. In certain cases, giving in to these impulses can cause enormous harm.
Suppressing your emotions, however, can make you just as sick in the long run. This is confirmed by recent studies.
It is therefore important to find a middle way in dealing with your emotions. The best way to do this is to look at your personality structure: To which external stimuli do you react emotionally? What are the reasons for this? In the following article we would like to inform you comprehensively about this topic.
What are emotions actually?
Simply put, an emotion refers to the experience of sensations. The physical stimulus triggers a reaction on different levels. This reaction is perceived as subjectively significant.
Which physical stimuli have an emotionally triggering effect varies from person to person. Moreover, different stimuli can have a completely different effect on different people. What you perceive as negative, someone else may perceive as positive.
An emotion is made up of four components:
- Physiological component: physical reactions, e.g. increase in heart rate.
- Affective component: personal feeling of emotion, violent surges of emotion.
- Cognitive component: focused attention, influencing the ability to think.
- Behavioral component: Facial expressions and gestures, tone of voice, immediate reaction.
How the individual components are connected and which component occurs first has not yet been clearly clarified. In general, emotions are very difficult to research due to their complexity. This is not least due to the fact that every person is individual. A universally valid emotion scheme can therefore hardly be defined.
The following scientific study gives you an overview of the current state of research:
Distinction from feelings, affects and moods
In everyday language, the term emotion is often used synonymously with the terms feelings or moods. Since this is not entirely correct, we would like to use a draw the line.
Short definition of feelings
Feelings are a subjective affective state that is of medium intensity and medium duration.
Short definition of moods
Moods usually last for a longer period of time. They are experienced less intensely than feelings or emotions.
Short definition of affects
An affect is usually directed outward. It refers to a violent surge of emotion that can be accompanied by loss of control.
What emotions are there?
Emotions are divided into primary and secondary emotions. Primary emotions, also known as basic emotions, are innate. By the way, facial expressions when experiencing a basic emotion are the same across cultures.
An overview of the basic emotions:
- Joy / Happiness
Unlike primary emotions, secondary emotions are not innate, but are shaped by social and cultural influences. They are learned in the course of life. Sometimes primary emotions mix with each other, e.g. you feel fear and anger or surprise and joy at the same time. Such mixed emotions are also called secondary emotions.
Let's say a close person makes a hurtful comment. You feel sadness - this is your primary emotion. However, you may have been taught in your upbringing that tears are a sign of weakness. Accordingly, you have learned to suppress the emotion of sadness. Instead, you become angry - this is your secondary emotion.
The above example illustrates why secondary emotions are usually quite unproductive. Because they are based on learned beliefs (e.g., "I must not cry"), they mask true needs. This applies to your self-perception as well as to your external communication.
When you are sad and basically long for closeness and comfort, the expression of secondary anger will cause you to push other people away. As a result, the unhappiness deepens. You get caught in a negative emotional vortex.
The basic emotions in detail
Let's take a closer look at the basic emotions.
Fear is one of the most powerful emotions that can completely take over your thoughts and actions. It is an immediate reaction to a subjectively perceived threat. It is not uncommon for vulnerable people to develop anxiety disorders. In this case, the emotion becomes a permanent condition. Nevertheless, fear is basically something useful, because it warns us of potential dangers.
Facial expression: Fear can be recognized by wide open eyes and a tucked in chin.
Gestures: Hectic movements or rigidity can equally indicate anxiety. Other signs are restless hands that are constantly turned or clenched into fists.
Surprise refers to a moment of brief startle. This can be a positive stimulus as well as a neutral or negative one.
Facial expression: Surprise is characterized by wide open eyes, raised eyebrows and a slightly open mouth.
Gestures: Typical for surprised people is a short jumpy flinch that happens involuntarily.
Disgust is mostly triggered by the sense of smell or taste. All objects that signal a threat to our body (the sight of mutilation, blood, pus) are possible disgust triggers. Food that is classified as unsuitable or contaminated also has disgust potential (e.g. mouldy bread).
Facial expression: wrinkles in the nose as well as a curling of the upper lip indicate disgust.
Gestures: Turning away from the object of disgust, protective covering of mouth and nose. Tense posture, possibly gagging and coughing.
Joy / Happiness
The feeling of happiness is one of the positive emotions. The desirable state is characterized by satisfaction and well-being. What one is happy about depends on the individual. In addition, happiness is often linked to different cultural and learned standards.
Joy and happiness can be triggered, for example, by the reunion of a long-lost loved one. But also professional and personal successes trigger joy.
Facial expressions: Joy is expressed through smiling. Incidentally, this can already be observed in infants at the age of about six weeks.
Gestures: Relaxed posture: upright gait, open arms, low shoulders.
Grief is a perfectly normal and important emotional state, albeit one that is perceived as negative. Everyone comes into contact with this emotion sooner or later in the course of their life. Grief often arises after experiences of failure and loss (separation, death, failed business).
Facial expression: Mimicry is expressed by movements of the eyebrows, chin and mouth. The chin hump rises slightly, while the corners of the mouth point downwards.
Gestures: A sad person is easily recognized by a bowed head, folded arms and a bent posture.
Anger is also one of the emotions that are perceived as negative. It arises when you feel unfairly treated or threatened. This emotion is characterized by a feeling of hostility, frustration and excitement. If you are angry, you put yourself in a defensive posture.
Although the emotion tends to have negative connotations, it can also sometimes be healing. For example, anger plays a decisive role in the process of dealing with death or separation.
Facial expression: The lips and eyes are pinched together, the eyebrows lowered. The lower lip is pushed forward.
Gestures: Anger is expressed by a strong posture (fighting posture) or by turning away. Both are possible and depend on the personality. In the case of an open confrontation, aggressive gestures can occur.
What other emotions are there?
Of course, the spectrum of emotions is even more diverse. Scientists at the University of Berkeley have defined a total of 27 different emotions, including the basic emotions:
- appreciation of aesthetics
- Sync and corrections by n17t01
- Sexual pleasure
Emotion management refers to the ability to understand the message behind emotions. You can use any emotion to improve your well-being. This also applies to negative emotions. Are your anger, overwhelm and feelings of inferiority possibly the result of unrealistic expectations?
Take time to think this through and be honest with yourself. Keyword: self-reflection. If you find this difficult on your own, a scientific profound personality test Get clarity. Only when you know why some emotions keep coming up can you do something about them.
How can you create positive emotional states?
To feel good, you need to create positive emotional states. However, this is easier said than done. Most of the time we are only aware of our secondary emotions, not the underlying base emotion. This means that you can all too easily misinterpret your emotions.
Those who are in angry rage often cannot imagine that it is a displacement mechanism and that they are actually sad. They are firmly convinced that the secondary emotion reflects their innermost feelings, even though this is not the case. But how can you break through this mechanism and look behind your own facade?
For this you may make yourself aware of the following fact: You decide what you feel and how you evaluate different situations! You are not a slave to your emotions. You are able to change your perception and thus create a new reality for yourself. A reality in which you feel better, because you can stay more calm.
It's all a question of interpretation
It takes only a fraction of a second to perceive an external stimulus and to evaluate it. The external stimulus and the internal emotion are inseparable. Your emotional reaction depends solely on the importance you attach to the respective stimulus. Internalizing this sentence is the key to successful emotion management.
Admittedly, this is not so easy. But it is worthwhile and possible. The way you classify a particular external stimulus is related to the following aspects:
- personal experiences
- Personality structure
Now it is time to question the above aspects. Become aware of your unconscious interpretations. Not everything you have learned must necessarily be correct! Every person has his or her personal sore points to which he or she is particularly sensitive. The emotions in such cases can be self-destructive and misdirected.
You were often laughed at in childhood because of your weight. This has left a deep psychological wound. Now, as an adult, you order dessert at a restaurant. The waiter comments on this by saying, "You can see that you like it."
You now have different possibilities to interpret this statement. If you understand the statement as an allusion to your weight, negative emotions such as sadness ("Why do I have to look like this?") and anger ("How can he treat me so disrespectfully?") will inevitably arise.
If you allow the thought that the waiter has merely expressed his pleasure at having satisfied a guest, you will be spared the negative emotions. The expression does not have to refer to your weight. Maybe it was also meant to be your enjoyable facial expression?
Ultimately, the point is this: Expose your sore spots and stop allowing all expressions to automatically relate to your perceived flaws. Only then can you replace negative emotions with positive emotions!
Regaining Emotional Balance: The importance of the heart-brain
Did you know that about 90 % of the nerve pathways lead from the heart to the brain? When you feel an emotion, it is usually felt first in the heart area, even before your mind has grasped the situation. Pay conscious attention to this the next time you find yourself in an emotional situation. It does not matter whether the emotions are positive or negative.
Signals are sent to the brain via the previously mentioned nerve pathways. Only then does an assessment and reaction to the emotion take place. The fact that the heart does not exclusively fulfil physical functions has long been scientifically proven. Researchers at the American Institute for Cardiac Mathematics (HeartMath Institute) have dealt with the theory of the feeling heart. extensively engaged.
They have found that the heart has far more powerful electromagnetic energy than the brain. Thus, the heart plays a crucial role in your emotional balance. This factor is important to understand when you are emotionally out of balance. Your heart influences your creativity, your intuition and your judgment.
5 tips for dealing with your emotions the right way
1. do not suppress your emotions
This does not mean that you should let your emotions run wild. The latter can harm you, especially in a professional context. Instead, find an outlet to release pent-up emotions in a constructive way. This could be sports, for example. If you are not the athletic type, it has proven useful to express your emotions creatively. How about a writing or drawing class, for example?
2. talk about your emotions with familiar people
Putting emotions into words can be incredibly liberating. Surely there is a person in your environment who deserves your complete trust. This could be your partner, your best friend, your adult child or a parent. Talk to this person and get honest feedback about how you are dealing with your emotions. A (trusted) outsider can mirror this much better than you can.
3. you decide about your thoughts
Remember our example above: emotions do not arise outside of you, but within you. Accordingly, you decide what you allow to come to you and in what way you interpret certain things. Breaking through destructive thought structures is not always easy. In the first step, a personality test can provide information about recurring patterns of behavior and thoughts.
4. detach yourself from harmful beliefs
There is nothing wrong with emotions. They must and may be expressed. Otherwise, physical and mental illness can result. Question old beliefs: Were you taught in childhood not to cry or to suppress your anger? Detach yourself from these by taking the above tips to heart.
5. take our free DISG personality test
As mentioned before, you can only change something in the way you deal with your emotions if you know to what extent they are anchored in your personality structure. The DISC personality test can help you with this. The test is divided into four different communication types and is preferably used in large companies. Click here for the free test: