Date of the last update: 17.12.2021
What are emotions? Intuitively everyone understands this term, though it would probably be more difficult to formulate its definition. Preferably, it should include the link between emotions … and the body. Although our various experiences can be fleeting and changeable, they can sometimes accumulate in the body and adversely affect the way it works. Thus, it is worth trying to understand your emotions, even if they are intense or seem irrational. Especially that emotions and diseases of various types are sometimes connected.
Table of Contents:
- Emotions and physiology
- Your amygdala remembers
- Do not ignore your emotions – it’s not worth it!
- Positive aspects of emotions
You can read this article in 3 minutes.
Emotions and physiology
Emotions involve specific physiological reactions. Distinct emotional feelings are often manifested through facial expressions. But they can also evoke several other sensations such as:
- stomach ache,
- trembling hands and legs,
- increased sweating.
These sensations, however, are processed in the brain. Several brain centres are involved in this process, including the limbic system, the amygdala, the brain stem and the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for organising sensory impressions and assigning meanings to them.
Emotions can be fleeting and changeable. It is impossible to remember them all. However, human beings possess the so-called emotional memory. Thanks to it we can associate certain events with specific emotional states. For example, a song that you associate with a holiday trip will evoke positive feelings when you hear it accidentally on the radio. It also works the other way round. If you have been in a car accident, you may feel uneasy every time you get in the car.
Your amygdala remembers
Interestingly, emotional memory is not always explicit. Obviously, oftentimes you can associate the emotions and impressions you experienced with certain past events. Sometimes, however, the actual memory related to certain situations remains latent. Still, the objects or circumstances that you associate with that situation can activate specific emotions which have been stored in the amygdala. This is especially true for difficult and traumatic childhood experiences which people are generally not even aware of. Nevertheless, they may experience pain or despair that is difficult to understand on an intellectual level. Psychotherapy is best used to help release these kinds of tensions.
Do not ignore your emotions – it’s not worth it!
Unfortunately, society doesn’t think highly of emotions. For many people, the ability to hide and control them is a sign of maturity and proper attitude. This stems from the belief that emotions can be irrational, destructive and… unnecessary. They disrupt the social order and complicate life. But the opposite is true!
Ignored emotions demand an outlet. Paradoxically, trying to control them can make them stronger and more difficult to keep in check. Just remember that that negative emotions and diseases are closely related. Continually experienced stress or anxiety weakens the body’s immunity and makes it susceptible to various infections and conditions.
Positive aspects of emotions
Emotions, body, mind are interrelated. The mind allows us to understand emotions, while the body lets us release them. It is worth remembering that emotions are always a type of information. While experiencing positive feelings is pleasant, experiencing negative ones can be useful. They are a signal that certain experiences or life situations are difficult for us. They are triggered when someone crosses your boundaries, behaves in an aggressive or hardly acceptable manner. They may also indicate that you need a break or a lifestyle change. It is always worth considering what negative emotions are telling us.
Bursts of crying or laughing, shouting, singing, jumping or pacing in circles are all ways of releasing strong emotions. Although it may seem irrational to an outside observer, this behaviour has a lot of wisdom in it. It is an expression of care for yourself and your own body. It is worthwhile to observe yourself and see how emotions manifest in your body and in which situations they are triggered. Try understanding your emotions instead of suppressing them. Then you can consciously decide how to use and direct them.
LeDoux J.E., An Emotion Is…, [in:] Psychology Today [online]. Available online: https://www.psychologtoday.com/us/blog/i-got-mind-tell-you/201911/emotion-is (03/02/2021).