Our emotions and feelings, the way we feel from one day to the other can be an emotional roller-coaster and really stop us from living a contented life and peaceful life. I discuss emotions and how they can affect your desire for happiness and contentment in my book “Screaming helps”. Our feelings or emotions are very complex and many of us fail to understand what sort of impact they can have on our day to day lives.
According to the book “Discovering Psychology” by Don Hockenbury and Sandra E. Hockenbury, an emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response. We know that there is a long list of emotions such as fear, shame, anger, love, happiness, satisfaction and many more. What this definition like many others of emotion highlights is that emotions have different components, firstly they are subjective which means they are based on what you perceive, so in a sense they exist in your mind therefore, we could say they are biased depending on what you are going through and your understanding of it, secondly they bring a physiological response which means that the emotion you feel at a specific time can lead your body to respond in a very specific way. For example, you may cry if you feel sad, your heartbeat becomes faster when you are scared etc. Finally emotions have a behaviour element or expression element and this manifests itself in how you respond. So for example you feel angry, you may respond rudely and angrily to someone who speaks to you because of your anger.
I have learnt that if we let our emotions control how we behave then life can become very challenging. Emotions are fleeting and unreliable and come and go quite easily. How many times have you woken up feeling sad for no reason at all?. If you allow that feeling to persist and the emotion of sadness to take root, that can dictate how your day will go. Alternatively if you take control of how you are feeling and assess and manage your emotion, perhaps by listening to some uplifting music or a motivational podcast or practising gratitude, then you can change the feeling of sadness to a feeeling of gratitude and just like that, set a better tone for the day ahead.
We should understand that we can resist and manage our emotions and that we actually need to learn how to do this to so that we can find balance and contentment. Our emotions will lead us awry if we allow them to. This process of learning how to manage emotions requires a bit of work just as most things in life which have an intrinsic value. It requires some commitment, persistence and discipline.
Discipline and commitmment are not always going to be readily available, we have to work diligently and persist even when we dont feel like it. It is similar to the process of trying to lose weight. You know you need to exercise several times a week for an hour each time perhaps, but there will be occasions when you will be motivated and ready to do it without any trouble and there will be days when its the last thing you feel like it. If every time you don’t feel like exercising you decided not to, it would take you a very long time to achieve your goal of losing weight. It is the same with working at this thing called life, there are days you don’t feel like meditating, working on practising gratitude, being kind or managing your emotions. You cant always obey that feeling. You need to learn to assess and challenge how you feel. Why do i feel like this? What can i do to feel differently or better? Is this an emotional reaction to something else? Do i need to respond to this feeling or can I ignore it? These are all very valid questions to ask yourself whenever feelings and emotions get in the way. An absence of emotional stability can wreak havoc with your mental and physical well being as well as leading to mood swings, depression and difficulties in dealing with life’s challenges. In the long run, training your mind to be stronger than your emotions will bring emotional stability which can be a catalyst for change making you mentally healthier, better able to deal with stress and more at peace with yourself and the world around you.