Emotions drive behavior…it is as simple as that! Our “insides” influence what happens on the outside! Our brains are flexible but contain some hard-wiring for emotions. Regulating your emotions is necessary so that you can be focused, remember, and connect all the new information that we already know. If your brain is continually in a state of negative emotions, it can leave you in a state where fear, anger, anxiety, frustration, and sadness can take over your logical, thinking brain. Not a good situation to be in for any length of time.
Inside Out and Upside Down?
Remember the movie from a couple of years ago, Inside Out? If you haven’t seen it and are looking for a way to look at emotions in a simple straightforward way, I’d recommend it. Inside Out is a very accurate portrayal of our five core emotions: joy, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. As with any Disney movie, there is exceptional detail in the research and science behind it.
A character represents and conceptualizes each core emotion throughout the movie. The emotional characters come alive in the brain of 11-year old Riley. The movie is a delightful way to learn how emotions can change our thinking processes. It also puts a visual picture to creating memories and how those memories are attached to emotions. Eventually those memories attached to emotions become part of who we are. Although sometimes we may want to ignore or suppress our emotions, they do provide us with information that we can process. This information serves a purpose and informs you what to do if you take time to use it.
What can I do?
One of the first steps to becoming more in tune with your emotions is to recognize that they are not good or bad, right or wrong. Emotions can be comfortable or uncomfortable. Another step is to recognize what emotion you are feeling in a given situation and label it. By creating a bridge between the thoughts and feelings and naming the emotion, you can actually decrease the intensity of them. The organization Six Seconds has a great article that explains this phenomenon that you can read here. Take some time over the next week to be more actively aware of your emotions. Journal them, share them with a friend or spouse, or just simply observe them as you go throughout your day. You might be surprised what you find! I’ll leave you with this quote…
Be an observer of yourself. Pay attention to what you feel and how those feelings contribute, distract, enhance, or challenge you. By Dawn Karner