We can be tempted to view emotions as an enemy. Especially negative emotions. Our emotions (positive or negative emotions) evolved to help us spot things, particularly things that are threatening, prompting us to do something about them.
Emotions are not characters but your feelings to your interpretation of events taking place in your environment.
How we attend to our emotions, and our thoughts, and reasoning about our emotions, and the situations that might stir them up, which can do much to calm us down or make things worse for us.
we have emotions that are focused on threats to ourselves and goals and efforts for self-protective behaviors.
Generally, these emotions feel unpleasant to us because they’re directing us towards threats and the need to do something. Hence the term negative emotions.
However, we also experience emotions that are positive and pleasant.
Generally, if things are going well, we feel positive emotions but if they are not then we can feel unpleasant emotions.
All emotions are for a purpose that I feel should be properly understood.
In this article, we would focus only on negative emotions.
So what are these emotions designed to help us think or do?
5 IMPORTANT EMOTIONS YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND-NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
Anger is an old, defensive emotion. Anger and frustration can originate from different sources, such as feeling undermined and blocked (missing one’s car keys just before one has to dash off to a crucial meeting.)
It can also arise from the sense of injustice, feeling criticized and let down by other people.
Anger makes us want to address the problem, do something about it, ‘sort it out. Anger can also make us want to retaliate against another person if he or she has upset us or upset someone we love and respect.
But when we let anger gets going our body starts to feel in a certain way. We start to focus on and attend to things that annoy us.
Thoughts like ‘how could they, ‘how dare they, ‘how bad they are’ start to cross our minds. It can also make us want to do things in a certain way(i.e ‘I will show them’)
Sometimes, we feel like shouting, swear, be aggressive or try to get our own back, or withdraw.
So we see that this important emotion of anger can direct our bodily feelings and emotions, our attention, our thoughts and urge us to behave in certain kinds of ways.
Consider the specific things in your life that triggers anger for you; we all have our buttons that can be pushed.
Anxiety is another relatively crucial and basic defensive emotion that is focused on threats; it gives us a sense of urgency, prompting us to do something.
Anxiety can make us want to run away and keep ourselves safe and out of harm’s way.
When anxiety gets going it pulls our thinking to focus on dangers and threats.
Again we see that this important emotion of anxiety can direct our bodily feelings and emotions, our attention, our thoughts, and our behavior.
Like anger, there will probably be certain things in your life that tend to make you anxious.
Disgust is commonly linked to our bodily reaction to things. Disgust was originally designed to keep us from toxic substances.
Our facial expressions, when we experience disgust, differ from anger and anxiety.
So again we see that this important emotion can direct our bodily feelings and emotions, our attention, our thoughts, and can urge us to behave in certain kinds of ways.
Shame is usually a blend of other emotions, such as anger, anxiety, and disgust. It is an emotion that is particularly linked to a sense of ourselves.
Generally, shame makes us want to run away, or close down and be submissive to avoid rejection.
We can have a feeling of shame if we believe others look down on us or see us as inferior in some way.
Sometimes we express shame with anger and criticism of others.
For example, Evelyn makes a critical comment about John eating too many chips and putting on weight. He has a flush of anger and says, “Well given your cooking, can you blame me!” This automatic response is linked to an underlying emotional sensitivity about his weight because he feels bad about his weight. He shames Evelyn because he has been shamed.
Our minds do this very easily and without a lot of thought, it is part of our brain quickly shifting to self-defense.
Shame is also linked to how we think and feel about ourselves. John could have responded differently. He might have gone quiet, or felt a little depressed and ruminated on the fact that his weight is unattractive, and he’s struggling to control his eating. And, of course, both the angry/defensive and the depressive responses are possible.
So, again we see that shame can direct our bodily feelings and emotions, our attention, our thoughts and urge us to behave in certain kinds of ways.
People often confuse shame with guilt, but guilt is much more about wanting to avoid hurting others and being prepared to make amends if we do.
Guilt makes us wary of exploiting or harming others and prompts us to try and repair the relationship if we do.
So, for example, Evelyn might reflect that John was hurt by her comment and John might reflect that he had been unkind to Evelyn.
These are guilt responses. Both might then apologize, acknowledging that their comments were in the heat of the moment. Ideally, they might then think about how to tackle the problem together.
In shame the focus of our attention is on ourselves (as a bad, unattractive or flawed person) and what other people think about us, whereas in guilt it’s about our behavior/actions and how we can repair any hurt we might have caused – we do not necessarily see ourselves as bad but we want to make amends for our behaviors.
In guilt we reach out with our hearts and feel sorrow; in shame, we withdraw and feel fear, disgust, or anger.
The key point is that, again, we see that guilt can direct our bodily feelings and emotions, our attention, our thoughts, and our behavior.
As with all emotions highlighted, we need to stop and think if we want to be dominated by these primitive emotions or to recognize them for what they are (basic brain programs) and learn to ride them in different ways.
Emotions are signals, they can direct your life through the right path or good path depending on how you control them.