Emotions: Permission to Feel
Sun, April 18, 2021

Emotions: Permission to Feel

Emotions are a natural part of man’s existence. They provide meaning and color to one’s life, from happiness to sorrow, excitement to distress, and satisfaction to frustration / Photo by: lassedesignen via Shutterstock

 

Emotions are a natural part of man’s existence. They provide meaning and color to one’s life, from happiness to sorrow, excitement to distress, and satisfaction to frustration. The perceptions, choices, and actions made by a person are influenced by the gamut of emotions felt at the moment. Emotions show the human in you.

 

Primary vs. Secondary Emotions

Emotions are divided into types: primary and secondary. Primary emotions are felt during major events, often very strong and overwhelming, but brief. It evolves into secondary emotions with time. The more time has elapsed from the initial encounter, the less powerful they become and subsequently morph into more complex emotions. The most widely accepted theories in modern psychology recognize eight different primary emotions: anger, fear, happiness, sadness, interest, surprise, disgust, and shame. Each of these emotions is strong to be recognizable as soon as it arises. Primary emotions happen quickly the moment an event triggers them. They can be quite overpowering and can obscure judgment if not controlled.

On the other hand, secondary emotions stem as a result of how you feel about a primary emotion. For example, after you get angry, you may realize that the anger was uncalled for, consequently eliciting shame. Secondary emotions tend to stay longer than primary emotions and can sometimes overshadow their predecessors. This can be quite harmful as root causes and issues can be avoided and ignored.

Are Emotional Expressions Universal?

Body language and gestures convey different meanings in different cultures. However, according to Charles Darwin, an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, human expressions of emotions are innate and universal across cultures. This was corroborated by emotion expert Paul Eckman, who found that facial expressions, for the most part, convey the same basic emotions across cultures. Although Eckman found that a human face can create 7,000 varieties of expressions, he only identified six universal emotions.

Happiness is the emotion people strive for most, characterized by feelings of contentment, joy, satisfaction, and well-being. Happiness is usually expressed through a smiling countenance, relaxed stance, and pleasant tone of voice.

Sadness is a fleeting emotional state depicted by feelings of grief, disappointment, and hopelessness. It is expressed by lethargy, withdrawal, silence, crying, and dampened mood. The severity of sadness varies depending on the root cause while coping mechanism differs from each individual.

Fear is a powerful emotion for survival. When faced with danger or threat, people go through the fight or flight response. This is commonly manifested by racing pulse and heartbeats, rapid breathing, tensing of muscles, attempt to hide or flee from threat, and dilation of pupils.

Disgust is a sense of revulsion from unpleasant event, sight, taste, or smell and displayed through physical reactions like vomiting or retching, wrinkling of the nose, curling of upper lip, or grimacing. People also experience moral disgust on distasteful, evil, and immoral behaviors.

Anger is a powerful emotion characterized by feelings of resentment, aggression, enmity, and frustration toward others. Anger manifests in times of danger to protect self. It is displayed through frowning, glaring, yelling, swearing, turning red, hitting, kicking or throwing objects. While anger is often a negative emotion, it can also be constructive. It can motivate actions to solve bothersome issues or clarify needs in relationships. Excessive anger is unhealthy and may turn to aggression, violence, and abuse.

Surprise is a “quicky” emotion when something unexpected occurs characterized by widening of the eyes, gaping mouth, jumping back, screaming, or gasping.

Body language and gestures convey different meanings in different cultures. However, according to Charles Darwin, an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, human expressions of emotions are innate and universal across cultures / Photo by: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock

 

Thriving Through Emotions

Emotions consist of a subjective component (emotional experience), a physiological component (body reaction to the emotion), and an expressive component (behavior in response to the emotion). These different elements play a role in the function and purpose of emotional responses.

- Emotions Motivate Survival: Darwin believed that emotions allow people to modify and adapt to be able to live and survive. For example, fear motivates people to flee or fight the threat. Sadness motivates people to retreat and recuperate from a loss. Anger motivates people to strike and protect. Love motivates people to search for a mate and reproduce.

- Emotions Motivate Actions: Emotions play a key role in how people think and behave and make decisions. When confronted with a difficult exam, a person feels apprehensive about their performance and final grade. Due to this emotional response, their action is to study. Each emotion stimulates action impulses that follow a particular biological path to transmit bodily feelings to take action in fulfilling needs. The general tendency is to take action and experience positive emotions.

- Emotions Allow People to Understand Others: Emotional cues are expressed to help people understand feelings. These are expressed through body language like facial expressions connected to a particular felt emotion. Understanding the emotional displays provide a clear image on how to properly respond in a specific situation.

Final Words

Emotions play a critical role in how lives are lived. Being truly human is showing the vulnerable you. Be outrageously bold and wear your heart out for everyone to see. Feel life!