Our emotions and feelings influence us
Emotions? Feelings? Without a doubt, they influence us, the way we see the world and our versions of reality and truth. We carry it inside of us yet inevitably, our feelings/emotions will come out somehow, sometime right? Let us know what you think!
Awareness that there is a constant and complex dance between emotions and feelings could significantly improve our emotional intelligence, including our decision-making ability.
We usually use the word emotions and feelings interchangeably, despite the differences between the terms. A fundamental difference is that feelings are experienced consciously, while emotions manifest either consciously or subconsciously. Throughout life, humans experience many emotions, impacted by factors such as their behaviour, the culture they come from and their previous experiences.
In English, we use “feel” for both physical and emotional sensation – we can say we physically feel cold, but we can also emotionally feel cold. This is a clue to the meaning of “feeling,” it is something we sense. Feelings are more “cognitively saturated” as the emotion chemicals are processed in our brains & bodies. Feelings can be fuelled by a mix of emotions, and last for longer than emotions.
Emotions have a substantial influence on the cognitive processes in humans, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, and problem solving. Research has shown that emotion has a particularly strong influence on attention, especially modulating the selectivity of attention as well as motivating action and behaviour.
Understanding and recognising our emotions is vital for our well-being. They are our body’s ways of communicating with us about what is going on, for example, if we have been let down, we may experience anger, fear, and/or sadness.
Of course, some feelings are more difficult than others, such as shame, but they are equally important. What matters is how we react to our feelings and acknowledge them as they arise. An important part of knowing our emotional experience is understanding which part of our body is activated with a particular emotion. The more connected we are with ourselves and the more we understand our emotional responses, the easier it is to deal with life’s challenges, as we figure out why something impacts us in a particular way and what we do with it.
Therefore, it is important to acknowledge all emotions as we experience them. Being mindful of and understanding our emotions is central for our self-care and becoming self-compassionate. If we have always tried to block out or hide our feelings, it can be frightening starting to become aware of our feelings – start gently.
If an emotion remains unconscious, this is often through repression or some other form of self-deception. Of course, self-deception can also take place at the level of an emotional experience if it is not acceptable or tolerable – by misattributing the type or intensity of the emotional experience, or misattributing its object or cause. What we feel and think does not mean it is reality, but it definitely can change how we view and act upon that reality.
It could be argued that even the purest of emotions is inherently self-deceptive in that it lends weight in our experience to something/s, over others. In that much, emotions are not objective or neutral perceptions, but subjective ‘ways of seeing’ that reflect our needs and concerns.
We perceive things differently, and much research has gone into emotions. One study found that people have more control over how their emotions are influenced than previously realised. Although it is known that people often try to regulate their emotions when they believe that they are unhelpful, this study extends this insight by showing that people can also regulate the way they are influenced by others’ emotions.
How are you influenced by your emotions or others’ emotions?