An interesting web article by Diane Raymond caught my eye and I thought her topic—human emotions—was worth sharing and building upon. In view of yesterday’s stunning BREXIT exodus decision by the United Kingdom, it seems worth noting what emotions are and how the world suddenly finds itself percolating in them.
All of us experience an ongoing range of singular and blended emotions that vary by degree, and cycle in and out as part of daily living. But because emotions are subjective, an experience that elicits a strong feeling in one person might have little or no effect on another. In the U.K. today, the BREXIT vote is causing calamitous tremors of concern and worry. Across the Atlantic in America, Americans shrug and wonder if London is now on sale and a cheaper place to vacation.
Depending on our life experiences and situations, differences can cause misunderstandings, arguments, fights—or nothing at all.
Why do we feel emotion?
Behavioralists believe human emotions are evolutionary functions that have enabled us to solve problems, protect our families (and us), survive desperate circumstances, adapt, and even procreate. For example, the “fight or flight” response to immediate danger is how an emotion alerts and protects us.
Emotions play important roles in daily living. They influence how we learn, set goals, communicate, prioritize, and perceive ourselves as individuals which, of course, influences how we act and interact, both positively and negatively.
In aggressive forms, the degree to which we “feel” an emotion can lead to a “mind-body” experience. A graphic example is a person whose bowels or bladder release when faced with extreme fear. Less extreme is someone whose face flushes deep crimson when embarrassed or excited.
Because of their many derivative forms, psychologists can identify dozens of human emotions. Eleven, however, are considered common “root” emotions. These eleven are:
Joy is a magical, often transformational emotion. In an article titled “The Alchemical Emotion of Joy,” Kevin Ryerson defined joy as “the ability to feel the essence of your own divinity.” Related emotions include happiness, exhilaration, excitement, pleasure, and contentment. BREXIT advocates today feel joy. They won.
Anger is defined as a strong feeling of disapproval or dissatisfaction, usually brought on by some real or perceived wrongdoing. Anger is felt on many levels, ranging from highly irritable to frustration. Related emotions include resentment, exasperation, rage and fury. Brits who voted against the BREXIT, and lost, today feel anger.
Anxiety most often means feeling nervous or uneasy. In many cases it’s tough to pinpoint a specific reason why we feel that way. Impending danger, an upcoming exam, speaking in front of an audience, a blind date, and even day-to-day stress can lead to feelings of anxiousness. Related emotions include distress and apprehension. Anxiety was high leading up to the election. Now this emotion has been replaced by others.
Feelings of surprise can be pleasant or unpleasant. Its constant is its suddenness. Related emotions include amazement, bewilderment, astonishment, or feeling startled. The world felt this way this morning, upon learning the outcome of the vote.
Also referred to as strength or self-assuredness, trust enables humans to rely on instinct, impart confidence, or experience hope. Related emotions include certainty, faith, and a feeling of security. Trust is going down the political toilet on both sides of the Atlantic.
Mental suffering over a great loss or painful experience are hallmarks of the grief emotion. Like anger, the grief emotion has varying degrees, ranging from disappointment to great despair. Related emotions include anguish, heartache, sorrow, and woe. Since the election results will trigger economic winners and losers, soon we will see grief increase among the defeated. It happened in 2008 during the global recession and will happen again soon after the BREXIT result becomes reality.
Fear is an adaptive human emotion that often has unpleasant side effects. In cases of violent crime or a near-death experience, the victim might experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Fear can also have a protective effect. For example, when a parent can’t locate his child in a busy supermarket, their immediate response (fear), enables him or her to quickly read the surroundings, listen for the child’s voice, and locate the child. Related emotions include apprehension, terror, panic and dread. In the case of global politics, fear of the unknown is growing like Godzilla approaching in the rear-view mirror.
Feelings of personal attachment to a child, husband, wife, parent or friend are most commonly associated with love, but love can fall anywhere on the spectrum from passionate affection to mere enthusiasm. Feelings of love might be romantic, or they could mean having a high regard for a friend, church or cause. Related emotions include fondness, adoration and passion. Frustration, anger, and fear are shoving love aside like a little kid on a bully’s playground.
Sadness comes from unhappiness and/or events that might cause us to become unhappy. Whether regrettable or unexpected, they take us to a negative place of varying degree, from which we wallow or transcend.
Related emotions include glum, disappointment, melancholy, unhappiness, misery, depression, gloom, despondency, apathy, grief, and dejection. All of these are being demonstrated by those who were hoping BREXIT would be defeated and the European Union would remain intact. Millions across Europe see little joy in this isolationist outcome.
Disgust is the manifestation of impatient irritation or strong disapproval. Related emotions include despising, disdain, revulsion, repugnance, abhorrence, repulsion, antipathy, aversion, loathing, and—at its most extreme—hatred. This is the perfect description of the American political landscape.
Anticipation is expectant waiting; and can often give way quickly to a different emotion upon the arrival of whatever it is we are waiting for. As such anticipation is a “build up” emotion. Once realized, we measure our feelings to determine the anticipation’s result and determine whether it is underestimated or overestimated. Related emotions include expectation, hope, eagerness, and expectancy.
Staying balanced: 5 tips to deal effectively with root emotions
Keep these in mind:
- Feeling these is normal. Emotional experiences come, go, come again, and go again. They are part of daily living. Rather than panic, accept them as a tiny tollbooth along a rich, full life.
- Recognize the actions that led to the emotion’s arrival. Emotions are drawn from experiential and evidential conclusions. In other words, a compilation of thoughts and/or experiences produces the emotional response we feel. Rather than dwell on the feeling, quickly look back to understand why we feel the way we do.
- We all take turns in the barrel. The number of hands that reach in to help pull us out when we are stuck inside will equal the number of times we have reached in to help others. If you recognize the symptoms of someone you care about struggling to manage his or her emotions, do not wait: reach in and help.
- Own your personal happiness. If the emotion we feel is good, cherish it. If the emotion we feel is negative, insist your mind treat it as something in “Visitor parking.” It cannot linger, nor remain. Since we tend to find what we look for in life, look for the good in others and situations.
- Never take yourself too seriously. Keep things in perspective. Remember: No matter how many alligators swim between our ears, billions of people around the world wake up each day forced to face far bigger problems.
By managing our heads effectively, we are free to pursue what matters most each and every day, and that is doing our best to be a positive force in the universe.
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