How to Work With Your Emotions

thoughts, emotions, actionsWhat is emotion?

Scientists have yet to agree upon a standard definition of the term emotion.

Research deals with affect, sensation, reflex, simple emotion, complex emotion, mood, and temperament.

It’s debatable where “emotion” lies on the continuum, and how to draw the lines.

The definition of emotion we use here is:

Emotion = Thought + Meaning (Expressed as Feeling)

This is a simplification of appraisal theory, which states that emotions arise when various internal and external stimuli are interpreted in specific ways. Which in turn trigger reflex-like feelings in the body, that then affect one’s perspective, physical state, and subjective experience.

Each person interprets stimuli based on their internal cognitive networks — their thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, and expectations about the world and their place in it.

Some networks are “hardwired” biologically, and others take longer to develop — such as cultural beliefs.

How do emotions work?

networkEmotions can have profound effects on subjective experience.

Evolution selected for emotions because they effectively mobilize the body to respond optimally to the environment, in order to maximize chances for survival.

Emotions are meant to be tools that help you to adapt to your environment.

But because humans also evolved culture — which drastically affects cognitive networks — emotions can get “out of whack.”

When this happens, emotions no longer serve as accurate signals about the internal and external environments. This is when emotions can work against you.

But the emotions themselves are innocent — it’s the dysfunctional cognitive networks that underpin them which are the culprit. And most of them come from culture itself.

Meaning, cultural beliefs help get emotions “out of whack,” so they’re no longer working for you.

How can you work with your emotions?

problem solvingRecognizing this is the first step to taking response ability for your emotional health.

You can work with your emotions by:

  • Recognizing how intelligent emotion is — minus all the dysfunctional interference that comes from culture.
  • Recognizing how emotion can actually enhance thought and reason.
  • Expressing all of your emotions in safe and appropriate ways, in order to use them as mobilizers for response ability.
  • Paying attention to what your emotions tell you about your life and your place in it, in order to create your life as a mindful construct.
  • Committing yourself to the path of self-growth — which focuses on response ability and mindful constructs. This means that you have to armor up for emotional resilience, because much of culture is still in the dark about how you can work constructively with all of your emotions.

Why work with your emotions?

You’re going to experience your emotions whether or not you work with them.

If you don’t partner with them for your personal growth, the out-of-whack ones will sabotage your success in many aspects of your life. Because ultimately, your dysfunctional beliefs will remain unchallenged, and will run the show behind the scenes — via your subconscious.

If you do partner with them for your personal growth, then you have a direct link to those dysfunctional beliefs that get in the way of your success in life, your happiness, and your mental, emotional, and physical health.

Working with your emotions is the only way to make the best out of what your life has to offer.

Start working with your emotions today

ivy leafThe following articles will help you start working with your emotions today:

  • The Robot Guide to Emotion
  • Robots of the future may very well have advanced abilities for introspection. We humans could learn a thing or two from the robot perspective on how to be more mature in how we work with our emotions.

  • 3 Keys to Emotional Serenity
  • A guest article on Serenity Hacker, showing another take on the feminine perspective of integrating all of your emotions.

Subscribe to Mindful Construct to learn more about how to work with your emotions.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendessen Tigabu March 19, 2010 at 1:05 am

It is very nice to present those lots of idas and help person to understand its emotions and with it.But befor stating those things it is beter to give some notes about emotion like its classification and its internal and external stimulus.TANKS

Melissa Karnaze March 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Wendessen, can you be a bit more specific? It was stated in the article that there is presently no standard scientific classification of emotion.

Susmita August 4, 2012 at 5:55 am

Science has completely ignored the human emotional experiential realm and our mainstream education is out of touch with real needs of people and society….

Brian Zhang September 25, 2012 at 9:45 am

Would it be unnatural or even unreal to work on emotions?

Leo Gormley May 7, 2013 at 11:56 am

When I started looking at my own history of child abuse, I found concepts of Alice Miller, especially ones like the body doesn’t lie, to be useful to me. I found that I couldn’t “think” my way into happiness but that by releasing stuck emotions I was able to discharge alot of negativity. I learned to let go of my habitual habit of turned everything into thought and to allow myself to just feel my body states. Feelings naturally do that, if you allow them. For me, that meant letting go of family members and religious concepts as well which reinforced the idea of emotion repression.
Now we do have a scientific explanations of emotion, thanks to the leading neuroresearcher today,Antonio Damasio. Emotions are brain representations of body states. Damasio has shown , in books like “Decartes’ Error” and “The Feeling of What Happens” that emotions are essential to rationality. And of this what many psychologists (William James, Sigmund Freud, Wilheim Reich) have been trying to say all along. Some understanding that somatic markers occur on a totally different level as thought , and have different physiological correlates, is necessary to truly achieve lasting change. I would strongly encourage you to read some of books of Antonio Damasio and then rethink many of the assumptions that you are making in this article.

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