Your emotions affect your actions.
For most of my life, I’ve been sensitive to my emotions and how I responded to things because of them. I was essentially a slave to the energy in my own body; I couldn’t leave the house without an anxious feeling of despair or feeling as if I was overloaded and had no control over my nervous system. This made me frustrated as I would often, for no apparent reason; feel anxious, upset, helpless, and sometimes even concerned for my safety. Although I had enough emotional intelligence to handle friendships and maintain healthy work relationships between employers and co-workers, there were moments and days where for no apparent reason my emotions would get the best of me.
This lasted for most of my childhood to most of my adulthood and has led me on a search to understand more about these feelings that were at one point, abstract concepts for me. I labeled these unknown emotions like anxiety and occasionally depression; this would mainly be a way for me to explain myself if I had an experience of panic or sadness I didn’t know how to process. I found comfort in using these labels as an excuse to avoid examining what I was experiencing, combined with a lack of emotional intelligence these experiences were difficult. But the more I socialized the more I became aware of this.
The word emotion can be described as energy in motion. It originates from the French word émouvoir (to “excite”) and is based on the Latin word emotus, (“to move out, move away, remove, stir up, irritate”). Our emotions are the experience of energy moving throughout the body, this is often felt as contractions like feeling tension or expansions like feeling calm. By itself, emotional energy is neutral. It is the sensation we feel and how we react to it psychologically that makes a specific emotional experience positive or negative. Feelings are what you would label as anger, sadness, joy, or fear and your thoughts about them are what give them meaning.
Your emotions are designed to appraise and summarize an experience and inform your actions; so a great deal of the decisions we make are decided by our emotional response. However; our emotions are not always accurate and we’ve been conditioned to respond to triggers, those triggers create rapid response times to the experiences we have through the collected information. If those emotions are not misunderstood- they provide a quick and effective way to obtain information about your circumstances that do not involve a lot of thinking about it.
Your emotions may attempt to tell you about a situation; if it is in alignment with your goal and whether it is overall good or a bad experience, to shed some light on how you might approach it. For example, imagine you are working on an agreement or negotiating a contract; or any decision that may have an impact that lasts longer than a decision to buy a cup of coffee. That kind of decision may have an unseen consequence and may trigger a “gut feeling” as an emotional response, informing you to take the time to reflect on the choice you are about to make and further evaluate the situation.
You can either be distracted by your anxiety or you can further examine it: Does this person you are attempting to negotiate with seem to remind you of someone in the past who has taken advantage of you? If you accurately processed the information you have received from the past, you may have enough information to assess this current situation properly.
Since everyone is different you have to be specific about what it is that triggered you to decide to further evaluate the current situation. What gets tricky is how we process information, since we aren’t always accurate about how we perceived events from our past. This leads us to be triggered by the wrong things as a form of superstition that ends up becoming a bad decision in our current situation. In other words; we may develop biased opinions that are not based on facts but instead, based on how we responded from lack of emotional intelligence. How you respond may be an indicator of how this situation makes you feel. Is your anxious response a reaction to your fear of failure or even fear of success?
Similarly, you may react to a salesperson that is “pushy” with an angry, disgusted, frustrated, or anxious emotional response-because they’ve triggered your emotions to inform you to protect yourself. This comes from similar character traits in past encounters along the same circumstances. You collected the information from the outcome of a past event and determined based on the new information you are collecting from this salesperson; he may be trying to convince you to purchase something you know you don’t want or need. You start to notice patterns in the exchange of energy you two are sharing and you feel uneasy. This leads to a similar emotional response to the outcome of the past event. If the result of the experience was negative you will most likely feel negative with these current similar conditions.
The importance of listening to what our emotions are signaling.
We’re are constantly challenged with a ton of information that we need to process which needs a lot of stimulation for us to reflect upon it. We often don’t have time to process all that information reflectively but our brain will process it passively and subconsciously.
You can notice when your brain passes something it may appraise as a “red flag”, you’ll be sent a vague, general alert in the form of feelings and thoughts created by that emotion. The signal is somewhat imprecise but it alerts you to pay attention to a particular point in the information it has processed.
A good example is when you have one of those “I just can’t put my finger on it, but something seems off about that Guy” moments. It usually comes in the form of a “hunch” and in this way; your emotions serve as an attention-directing system associated with psychological changes that can prepare you to take action. It isn’t a very intelligent system because it has many false alarms or emotional misfires. So to see if your response is appropriate you have to evaluate it.
Oftentimes we have conditioned ourselves to think the best course of action is to suppress or even ignore an intense emotion rather than figure it out. But why ignore an emotion that has existed and evolved in society for thousands of years? All emotions serve a purpose, they inform you, the operator of the body, what to do.