Where do emotions come from?
There’s a time honoured theory that our emotions are built-in from birth. That they are distinct and recognisable.
When something happens, anything from a car back firing to an admiring glance its said that we emote automatically as if someone has flipped a switch. Our voice revels how we feel through its tone, laughter, shouts and cries. Our posture displays our feels through our posture and gestures. We show our we feel in our facial expressions and our body language, these expressions are said to be easily recognisable.
Its said that we have so many emotion circuits in our brain that cause a set of changes. Maybe there is that person who annoys you and triggers feelings of anger; your blood pressure rises, you scowl, yell and feel that anger rise.
Or maybe there’s a story in the news that triggers a fear response; heart races, feelings or anxiety and fear run through your body.
There’s an assumption that each emotion has a defining pattern in the brain.
Our emotions are part of our evolution, many were useful in ensuring our survival and are not a fixed component of our nature. The flight or fight response has and does ensure many people survive through dangerous experiences; and in those times is the perfect response. That same response can create all sorts of problems for people causing anxiety, fear and panic.
So your emotions are a kind of automatic reflex run by what we call the primitive part of our brain.
This view of emotions has been with us for millennia in various forms from Plato through to Freud and Darwin.
Research has failed to prove that people have difficulty in distinguishing between feeling depressed and feeling anxious. They used the same words like angry, sad and afraid to explain how they felt but these did not necessarily mean the same thing.
How can we tell if someone who says they are happy are actually happy?
Currently no one has proven that there is a consistent bodily “fingerprint” for each emotion.
Part two: Initially it was believed that our emotions were universal, we all had the same triggers the same feelings etc.
AS Kay pointed out in an earlier post, Neuroscientists regularly have polar views on how this works. Some scientific research failed to prove that our emotions were universal.
One study discovered that people described different emotions in the same way for example people had difficulty in distinguishing between anxiety and depression.
Psychotherapists know that anxious people can become depressed and depressed people can become anxious. The two do seem to go hand in hand.
Our feelings are what we label them; how do you know you’re happy, excited, curious etc. There are people who on the outside look to me to be calm, quiet, OK and sometimes miserable. Yet they will say they are happy. Not everyone will display their feelings on the outside.
People laugh when they are having fun, when something is funny and that is usually how people laughing, giggling are perceived and yet people laugh when anxious, embarrassed, when they feel uncomfortable in a situation too.
Remember the last time you felt pleasure; not necessarily sexual pleasure, maybe when you felt an everyday kind of pleasure of the first cup of coffee/tea in the morning.
Now remember an unpleasant feeling; maybe how you felt just after an argument with someone close to you.
These two feelings will be totally different.
With your NLP hat on focus on the differences, , what is different? Hold that thought.