Emotions are a rich aspect of being human. We should honor our unique capacity to experience the complexity of humanity’s emotional spectrum, instead of bashing those which we might consider ‘bad’.
There are no strictly ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotions. Fear for example, is a necessity for survival. Anger is for engaging the pursuit of justice. Sadness helps us to understand the loves and ideals we have in life.
Yet we do live in a duality of positive and negative spin. Both parts make a whole. So there are emotions that we process as more positive, like ‘happiness’, or more negative, like 'grief’, yet both play a necessary role in helping us to learn and grow within the earthly context we find ourselves.
The Difference between Emotions and Feelings
There are many academic and anecdotal variations for what are considered primary and secondary emotions, which can be further explored in this article. Personally I like to look at it simply within the context of duality, meaning the two primary emotions are Joy and Fear, or Love and Hate.
Every other emotion would then be a complex mixture of these two.
Yet regardless of what we prefer to label as primary emotions, there appears to be a lot of confusion over the difference between emotions and feelings. As I described in a previous article:
“Everybody has the same emotions, yet we all have different feelings. These two human states are distinct not only because they are processed in different areas of the brain, but because emotions are primarily physical, whilst feelings are mostly mental constructs.
Our feelings are a mixture of our emotions, beliefs, philosophies, thoughts and memories. All these aspects come together to not just influence the emotions that we have, but also determine how we ‘feel’ about what is going on in our world. Therefore, understanding the difference between our emotions and feelings is critical to contextualising our emotions into the bigger pictures of our lives.”
A fantastic analysis of this difference is provided in this article. Here is an excerpt:
“Emotions originate in the subcortical regions of the brain, the amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortices, and create biochemical reactions in the body altering your physical state which originally helped our species survive by producing quick reactions to threats and rewards. Emotional reactions are coded in our genes and are universally similar across all humans and even other species…
Feelings originate in the neocortical regions of the brain, are mental associations and reactions to emotions, and are subjectively influenced by personal experience, beliefs, and memories. A feeling is the mental portrayal of what’s going on in your body when you have an emotion, and is the byproduct of your brain perceiving and assigning meaning to the emotion. Feelings follow emotion, involve cognitive input, are usually below conscious awareness, and cannot be measured scientifically.”
Therefore, what we would usually consider as an emotion is most likely a mixture of energy that results in a ‘feeling’. This is because our general experience is not just an emotional reaction, but also an experience involving a complex arrangement of the various layers of our mind and body.
In addition, when we refer to someone as emotionally mature, what we’re really referring to is their greater mastery of their response to their emotions, or their 'feelings'. In this sense, the higher the awareness we have of the energy that we process within us, the higher our power to heal and grow ourselves.
Healing and Growth
When someone says they’re feeling bad, that means their overall response or reaction to their emotions makes them feel negative. The opposite is also true; when we say we feel good, it means that the emotions we’re experiencing are being processed in accordance with certain beliefs, memories and other energy into a positive psychological experience.
Of course if we’re grieving heavily or in a desperate state of fear, it will be unlikely that we’ll be feeling 'good', but we can still feel content with the right type of philosophy. In any case, those experiences are the rarity, not the norm. Our standard state of mind and heart is simply one in which we choose how to respond to the world.
We have the power, which is why we should design empowered and enlightened philosophies on life. If we're successful, they will productively guide our engagement with both the challenges and ecstasies that we're gifted each day.
That’s not to take anything away, however, from the significant influence our past can sometimes have on our present. We all know that trauma, for example, has a substantial impact on both our physical hardware and mental software. If this trauma occurs in the early stages of brain development, then the neurology is fundamentally wired in that way.
This can be very difficult to heal because it takes many years to permanently rewire the neural pathways of the body-brain (meaning the neural connections that exist throughout our cerebral, digestive and heart circuits), as well as redesign the mental constructs of the psychological mind.
But it’s not impossible. Ongoing meditation is a really effective way to become conscious of the subconscious dysfunction that exists within all of us. Through becoming aware of our unhealthy architecture, over time we can literally change the physicality of our wiring in a process called neuroplasticity. The psychological word for this is psychotherapy, meaning we change our conceptual design for the purpose of healing and growing ourselves.
So regardless of the source, if we’re in a constant state of depression or anxiety it is our responsibility to emancipate ourselves from it. It’s a hard pill to swallow for many because they look to someone or something to blame, but this approach is always fruitless and disempowering. Simply, unless we take ownership of our healing and growth, then nothing will change.
Of course that doesn't mean we should take responsibility for an event or person who inflicted suffering upon us, but our response to it is where we must take control. If we’ve perpetuated this suffering in a self-harming fashion over a long period of time, then that is a reality that we need to own.
For those who want to improve their psychological state, I really recommend you read ‘How to Get Out of the Rut of Self-Harming Thoughts and Feelings’. As I explained in that article:
"When our self-harm becomes a serious health issue, sometimes we are diagnosed with a disorder and prescribed medication. However, drugs aren't the cure to these dysfunctional psychological states, they are simply a tool that assists a productive chemical balance so that the issue is easier to live with whilst we look for and undertake ways to resolve it.
What actually cures most, but not all, dysfunctional mental states is effective psychotherapy. Usually it is reserved for a professional to guide, however that is for severe cases or when a person can actually access them.
The truth is we can undertake psychotherapy on ourselves. We in fact already do it. Every time we have had insight into a problematic state of mind and undertook changes to remove or alter it, it was literally psychotherapy in action."
When we experience disorders such as these they are both mental and physical. At all times there is a bottom-up and top-down influence, meaning that emotions or chemical cocktails influence our psychology, and mental states influence our physicality.
If serious harm is inflicted and reinforced over many years, it can have a significant impact on both our physical machinery and our psychological architecture. That's why the longer it goes on, the longer it takes to rebalance it into a naturally healthy state.
This is exactly why self-administered psychotherapy is an area that needs to be taught in our schools. As an individual, we should be constantly reflecting on the innate power we have to heal and grow ourselves. This training should start from an early age, right through to the final stages of our third dimensional existence, so society in general is equipped with knowledge and skills of a therapeutic and developmental nature.
Life is an emotional roller-coaster ride, there's no doubt about that. If we have a negative emotional reaction to our experience, there's no need to suppress it; we should respond to it in the most functional and healthy way that we can.
After all, the goal should be at peace with life, not just be 'happy'.
The belief that certain emotions are a problem is inaccurate because they are simply a natural aspect to being human. What we should refocus on however is the abuse of certain emotions, such as excessively feeding our sadness or anger, as well as the constant self-harm that many of us inflict on ourselves after we’ve experienced something that we have deemed ‘undesirable’.
With the right type of philosophical attitude we can learn from all of our experiences anyway, regardless if there is ‘justice’ to be had or not.
There is also a serious lack of empathy towards people who are suffering in a state of despair or confusion. For example, most people who are excessively controlling are being so because they are lost in some sort of trauma or fear.
It’s 'pain-based' behavior, not 'conscious' behavior.
Over the internet or face-to-face, we need to be more humane to those who are ignorant, abusive, arrogant or selfish. If we respond in an equally unsophisticated way – such as abuse an abuser or condemn a condemner – then all we do is reinforce their pain and little healing or growth is likely to occur.
It’s important for us to all take a serious chill-pill in this dark-age of despair, delusion, division and disharmony. The harsh reality is that most people really are unconscious soldiers of a socially-engineered agenda to maintain the dying control-matrix. When we have compassion for the way that these people have been designed to unconsciously feel – such as powerless, materially unsatisfied and in an existential state of suffering – then they have a greater chance of emancipating themselves from their pain and beginning a process of healing and growth.
And the more that occurs, the more we can heal and grow our collective consciousness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phillip J. Watt lives on the Mid North Coast of NSW Australia.
He has lived a life of self-determination and built a strong repertoire based in leadership, teamwork and seeking the essential knowledge and skills to holistically support himself, his family and his clientele. His written and film work deals with topics from ideology to society, as well as self-development.
Follow him on Facebook, watch his interviews with an array of inspiring guests at his YouTube Channel or visit his personal development website.
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