Emotions are an important part of your day to day life. They are hardwired in your brain when you are born. They help you make decisions, whether you’re conscious of it or not. Humans wouldn’t exist today if it was not for emotions. You wouldn’t be who you are today if it wasn’t for your emotions. Emotions are an indispensable part of life.
Emotions are a key part of your evolution
As a species, we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for our emotions.
For centuries, humans believed they were the only ones to have emotions. They believed that emotions were part of what made us human. Thankfully, today, we know (most of us at least) that all mammals have emotions. Why? Simply because we all need emotions to survive.
Love makes you want to reproduce. Friendships and bonding create safety within a group. Fear makes you run away from danger and anger triggers your defence mechanisms.
In other words, without emotions, no humans (or mammals) would make it to adulthood. And, in any case, without emotions humans wouldn’t have children. If it wasn’t for emotions, humans would have gone extinct.
Emotions are designed to be overpowering
From the point of view of evolution, for your survival, it is crucial to listen to your emotions, whether you actually want to or not. That’s why emotions were designed to be so powerful. Emotions are engineered to take over everything else because nothing else matters as much in that precise moment.
Think back to the cavepeople days and imagine you’ve gone hunting. You’re going around with your spear looking for lunch. Then suddenly, a lion jumps out of nowhere in front of you. You run for your life. Fear is what enables you to react fast and to run probably faster than you’ve ever run before. If emotions weren’t as powerful they wouldn’t be as effective.
Now, imagine that you are walking down the street and you see, out of the corner of your eye, someone following you. The street is otherwise empty. You’re not sure why, but you know there is something suspicious about that person. Your system is on high alert. You feel fear. That fear is so powerful that you can’t feel or think about anything else. That emotion is there to keep you safe and ready for action.
Babies are born with emotions hardwired in the brain
Scientific evidence suggests that babies are born with a set of emotions already wired into the brain. These emotions include anger, sadness, fear, joy and interest, among others.
Being born with emotional functions helps the baby survive, bond and communicate with its mother. Babies cry when they’re hungry or in pain. They express joy when they’re bonding.
Emotions help babies keep them safe and alive. The same goes for you.
You have been navigating the world around you via emotions since you were born.
You bonded with your parents, friends and partners via your emotions. Fear helped you run away from dangerous situations. Anger helped you know when to defend yourself.
The good and the bad in your life was experienced via your emotions. It is also stored in your body today via emotions.
Your emotions help you live in alignment with your values. Your emotions help you meet your needs.
When you watch the news and feel angry about what is happening, your emotions are telling you that your values are under attack. Your guilt tells you when you fall short of your own values. Joy guides you towards things that feel good.
You wouldn’t be who you are today without emotions
Between the moment you woke up this morning and now, as you read these words, your emotions guided many of your decisions. Your emotions probably played a role in the breakfast you chose to eat.
If you were feeling happy and energetic, you chose to eat something healthy, good for your body. Or, on the contrary, you decided to treat yourself to a doughnut. If you were feeling tired, low on energy, you might have chosen to eat something comforting instead.
Your emotions played a role in the way you spoke with your partner at breakfast. They played a role in the way you turned up at work. They will affect your mood when you end the day. They will probably play a role in what you chose to eat for dinner.
You can use your emotions or let them use you
Emotions will continue to play a role in the small and big decisions of your life whether you want to or not simply because humans evolved to have powerful emotions. You can’t switch off emotions like you can switch off a burglar alarm. You can try to - it will only work for a while. Your system was not designed to operate without emotions.
Like so many of the things you’ve evolved to have or to do, you can choose to let them do their own thing. Or you can choose to take over the commands.
Emotions exist to serve you, your safety and your well being even though it doesn’t feel like it at times. You probably feel like you’d be much better off without some of these overwhelming emotions. But having emotions is not something that is optional, just like breathing is not optional.
Imagine if you knew how to use your emotions
Just like breathing, you can let your emotions run in the background without paying attention to them. Or you can learn to use them to enhance your life. Just like breathing techniques can keep you feel grounded in stressful moments and generally improve your wellbeing, you can learn to use your emotions.
Imagine if, next time you feel a negative emotion you could calmly use the information that the emotion is giving you. Imagine if you could think clearly and consciously decide the next best course of action in line with your values and your needs of the moment. Imagine if, instead of being overwhelmed by the emotion, instead of the emotion telling you, like a tyrant, what you have to do, instead of the emotion using you, you could use it.
This is possible. I can help you.
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