Emotions. What Are They And Where Are They Coming From? by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when Peter found his wife, Ellen, looking through the window into the garden with wet eyes full of tears. The afternoon after their last daughter wedding day.

  • She looked beautiful and stunning, right honey?- Affirmed him trying to get closer to her.
  • Indeed. I am sure they would be very happy- she smiled looking at her husband.
  • Why are you so sad then, baby?
  • I am not sad. I am extremely happy- she stated while two tears ran down her cheeks.

Ellen knew she should feel glad, with her last child just happily married and this certain feeling of accomplishment after all these well-raised up kids of her. But indeed, she also felt a bit lonely, empty, even purposeless.

One was her emotional mind and the other her rational mind. Just human beings.

Humans mental life is a clear dichotomy between thoughts and emotions or the so-called “head” and “heart.” While in some cases they happily live and work together, there are also many other times when they dispute over a war of interests sometimes difficult to reconcile. What is clear is that the progression of the human mind is a long, long story. We have indeed experienced a lengthy evolution throughout the history of humankind. Our Emotions too. But summing up, what you are feeling today and the way you are feeling it, is the result of two main primary factors:

1. Your biological response to the world

Emotions, after all, are primarily impulses to act, as to hand life in a way that plays along with evolution. By observing animals and kids, it is clearer how there is a tendency to act implicit in every emotion and how these emotions physiologically prepare your body to deliver the correct response aimed at survival.

When you feel anger, blood flows to your hands, heart rate increases and a torrent of different hormones such us adrenaline make you prone to react in an energic and violent way, using your own generated pick of energy to fight whatever needs to be fought.

When you feel happy, your brain center activity increases, inhibiting negative feelings and quieting all those that generate worrisome thoughts. This state of calm and enthusiasm make you prone to better set goals and strive to achieve them.

Sadness, contrarily, produces a drop in energy and excitement for life’s’ activities, slowing the body’s metabolism. This withdrawal from the world allows the space to mourn ensuring that the saddened and vulnerable human stays close to ‘home’ where he is safer.

And it is love, tender feeling, and sexual satisfaction what activates parasympathetic patterns that provoke a ‘relaxation response’ associated with increased inclinations to contentment, cooperation, and conciliation.

2. Your life experience and culture

Biological propensities to act are shaped further by life experience and culture. Facial expressions for fear, anger, sadness, and enjoyment are recognized by all people in all cultures all around the world, including those ones that have been not exposed to mass media channels of communication or globalization. They are universal. And universally, the loss of someone we love leads to grief and sadness. But the way we express this grief and sadness is tailored by culture.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, the death event was a public ritual, involving specific preparations and the enactment of public ceremonies that comforted mourners expressing grief in an open and unrestrained way. Traditions of the “death wail,” which allowed people to cry their grief aloud, have been documented among the ancient Celts. In Ethiopia, members of several ethnic communities sing and dance before, during and after funerary rites in communal ceremonies meant to defeat death and avenge the deceased. Many people will use the black color as a mourning symbol, but Egyptians mourn in yellow, Koreans in blue, Brazilians and Thai people in purple while Papua New Guinea mourns its loved ones in grey. 

So yes!

From a physiological perspective too, science had found how the thinking brain grew from the emotional one or what it is the same, how there was an emotional brain long before there was a rational one. Exactly! Millions of years before the homo sapiens, we were just action-reaction beings basing our chances for survival on the emotions we were feeling and the actions to run, hide or reproduce that they were provoking on us.

But as we stop living in caves among many other humans evolutionary hits, our brain kept in developing until it finally grew a so-called neocortex that started added to ‘the feeling’ the “though’ about this feeling. Suddenly, we were able to have feelings about ideas, to strategize, to think long-term and to love instead of just reproducing the species.

We were able to use our primitive emotions not just to survive the moment, but to flourish and develop a life plan that was improving the quality of our beings and the quality of humankind as a social community!

Should we listen to the head or the heart? There is absolutely no correct categoric answer but many different right solutions for each particular case.  What is clear is that we are not impulsive, irrational beings anymore. Almost. And in the meanwhile, understanding the logic, meaning, and history of emotions can help a lot to determine what is the emotional intelligent answer for a rationally approved solution.

May 7, 2019 at 11:31AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs