02 Feb Your Emotional State and the Choices That You Make
It’s Monday morning and you wake after roughly a two hour sleep. The weather was muggy, so you just couldn’t seem to find any comfort, no matter the position you chose. Your fan broke the day previous also, and your apartment block is without air conditioning. So, naturally, you left your window open in an attempt to seek any sort of breeze that may flow through your ajar window. Which, also naturally, allowed your partying neighbours’ noise to travel inside.
All of this couples with the toe you stub on the corner when you finally drag yourself out of bed after snoozing those three 9 minute alarms, the lack of hot water after your roommate uses it all before you get there, the toast you burn, and that wonderful bumper-to-bumper traffic jam you entail on your commute to work.
How’s your emotional state right now?
But now, you wake. It’s Saturday morning, the heatwave has passed, and you crushed an eight hour heavenly sleep the night before with a soft, cool breeze flowing upon you as you rest your little head upon a new set of pillows. You roll over as the sun cracks through your blinds, check your bedside clock and reach for that book you started last weekend. After reading a couple of chapters, you roll out of bed, get changed and head down for a morning swim at your local beach.
How’s your emotional state right now?
There’s truly no denying that these two scenarios would result in completely different emotions, perspectives and outlooks on the day ahead for you. But, what does that mean to you? And, why does analyzing your emotional state, dependent on what happens to you, mean anything at all?
OUR PRIMAL EMOTIONS
Thanks to thousands, upon thousands of years of evolutionary goodness, we are host to a myriad of different emotions with seven major primal emotions. Some of these for pleasure, others for dominance. All, however, necessary for the continuation of our species.
Take fear, a perfect display of a survival assurance emotion, and practically a gateway to many of the other primal emotions. If we analyze it and look at it from an evolutionary point of view, it is one reason that has allowed us to understand what could kill us, and essentially, keep our ancestral line alive long enough to reproduce and eventually result in you.
Yoda couldn’t be more right about this one (when is he not?), and with the knowledge that fear really only shows up thanks to anxiety, there couldn’t be a better display of how our understanding of our own emotional state can play a part in how we respond and react to any given situation.
It is said that the regulation of our emotions is something that constantly grows and evolves throughout the course of our life. It is something that becomes a habit and we tend to mold to our environment in an attempt (sometimes) to disguise our true state of being. This is when we develop certain triggers that can lead to the four stages of emotional regulation;
- Internal feeling states – the subjective experience of emotion
- Emotion-related cognitions – thought reactions to a situation
- Emotion-related physiological processes – heart rate, hormones
- Emotion related behavior – actions, facial expressions
All of these, may seem definite, but can in fact be tinkered with via our social and cultural acceptances/norms and choices. Which may sound a little odd to you at first, but think about it; as strong emotional reactions are not always desirable or accepted within social standards or expectations, flipping out over the printer not working or smashing someone’s face in if they’re annoying you, never is an accepted reaction, and something that has been shaped over time.
IS IT ALL IN OUR BRAIN?
But is all of this saying that when someone offends you or when something emotional distressing happens to you that it is all in your head? No, not entirely. But you do make a choice every time something like this does happen to you. By paying attention to triggers and what your emotional state is can indeed give you a clearer vision and outlook upon your life each and every day.
Caving to the classic case of emotionally eating; choosing to be affected by what that girl just said about you, even though you’ve only just met her; choosing to be affected by that family member saboteur that tries to make you feel guilty every time you make the choice to eat something healthy or go to the gym. All of this – whilst sadly are situations that occur all of the time – can be stopped. As long as you are aware of yourself and your state, as long as you understand what is happening if you feel like you are falling victim to your emotions and not being in control.
After all, would you get noticeably angry, mutter a swearword, and be frustrated for the next few minutes (or beyond) if you were with your boss, new friend, or someone you’re trying to impress when that person totally and obnoxiously cuts you off and causes you to almost crash? Whilst some of you may say yes, the majority wouldn’t. So why choose to allow these types of circumstances to affect you any differently when you’re driving solo?
Pay attention to the why, the what, and the how, the next time something affects you. Be aware of why you’re feeling the way you do and choose to make a choice to not wake the emotional beast and allow situations to escalate even further, resulting in a damaged – whether it be via an eating frenzy, or a lock yourself in your room scenario – one, two, three or more days following it.