EMOTIONS Our Constant Companions
by Dexter Valles
Everyone I know has feelings. Feelings about almost everything. I dont know of anyone who does not have any feelings about something. Even if they say they don't ! Because that statement itself discloses a feeling !
So where do feelings come from ?
How long do they last ?
Why do feelings change ?
Do we act on our feelings or can we suppress our feelings ?
Is it good to feel strongly about things ?
Is it more important to be emotional or rational ?
There is now a lot of research undertaken in the area of the brain and the mind. A field called neuroscience, which helps explain our behaviour. Psychometric and neurometric assessment tools and assessments developed in the fields of Emotional Intelligence or EQ, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Mindfullness, Whole Brain Thinking to name a few, have provided very useful insight into how our brain seems consciously and subconsciously to influence our lives.
Research in neuroscience suggests and points to evidence that our Emotional Brain ( the limbic system of the mid brain ) triggers fastest , much ahead of the Cortical Brain ( the intelligent rational / thinking brain ) and if this is not integrated into the decision making process, we are more likely to act emotionally rather that with emotional intelligence.
Our brain is an amazing complex network of one hundred billion neurons, that regulate enormous traffic of information every second. Whew !! How awesome is that !!
A vital part of the brain's information-processing neural network includes, naturally, neurons, or cells that transmit signals containing messages throughout the brain. This complex network of neurons send these signals through neurotransmitters, which really are chemicals which some neurons release and others receive. Chemicals in the brain !! Who would imagine that !!
These chemicals essentially let the different parts of our brain communicate with each other by jumping across synaptic connections from one neuron to another. And it is at super speed. These emotional chemicals are so fast to spread that they even beat the speed of thought !!
The four most widely studied brain chemicals are dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and norepinephrine.
Dopamine is related to experiences of pleasure and the reward-learning process. In other words, when you do something good, you're rewarded with dopamine and gain a pleasurable, happy feeling. This teaches your brain to want to do it again and again.
So watch out !! The learning curve is laced with dopamine !!
Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It regulates our social interactions and yes indeed, it is essential to sexual reproduction, playing a multifaceted role in regulating behaviors from mother-child bonding, empathy, generosity, trust, and the Big O in bed. When we hug or kiss oxytocin levels increase; hence, understandably oxytocin is often called "the love hormone."
Serotonin is associated with our memory and learning. An imbalance in serotonin levels is most likely to result in an increase in anger, anxiety, depression and even panic. So the next time you press the panic button, your serotonin probably needs a refill.
Norepinephrine helps moderate your mood by controlling stress and anxiety. It acts to regulate the effects of Cortisol, the Stress chemical of the brain
So our feelings which are body based sensations of our emotions, produced by these chemicals in the brain, are the first to register and often linger for a long time. Becoming moods. Though if these feelings are acknowledged, entertained, observed for the messages they carry, the rational brain can process these feelings to decide on the most suitable course of action. Not that it works all the time this way, nor is it always as effective as we would like. But it does give us a chance to coach our behaviour into a better place !
So yes, we feel first, in between and last. We are always feeling. Though through odd advice and practice over the years, we have coached our mind to ignore our feelings. Or suppress them. This does not mean that our feelings do not exist. It actually means we allow our feelings to undermine the power of our decision making process, because we do not acknowledge them and ignore the emotional messages they carry. Thus allowing our emotions to invisibly influence us.
Amazing isn't it ? Like having a guest or even several guests at home and pretending he isn't or they aren't there. Yet allowing unfettered free access to the most private areas of our lives. What a terrifying thought !!
So how do we strike a balance between our emotions and our thoughts ?
Because we are more conscious of our thoughts we use them to consciously influence our behaviour. Therefore it's really important that our thoughts are constructed with clarified emotions. Emotions which have been routed through our cortical brain to be processed with reasoned pathways to action.
It's quite clear that our lives shall always be abuzz with our feelings because without them we really won't know what it means to be "alive" !! We can choose to ignore their presence only to find them too close for comfort. So what do you do with your constant companions. Your emotions. Your energy in motion.Your informants to how your inner world is responding to your outer world. Well, reward them for their loyalty !!
Acknowledge, appreciate, be attentive, encourage their voice, and be curious about their gifts !!
Unwrap them carefully. Most are marked Fragile !!