“I wish I could go back in time and undo it.” We’ve all said these words at some point or the other after saying or doing things that we regret. This happens because we often get swayed by our emotions. It's important to be able to understand and identify the different types of emotions so that they don't control us.
Managing emotions means choosing how and when to express our emotions. With some practice, you can learn healthy ways of regulating your emotions and responses. We choose activities and hobbies, make decisions, take actions and interact with others based on our emotional feelings. Let’s look at how different emotions influence our behavior and how we can better manage them.
What Are Emotions?
Emotions are often confused with moods and feelings but the three terms aren’t interchangeable. The American Psychology Association (APA) defines emotions as a “complex reaction pattern, involving experiential, behavioral and physiological elements. The specific quality of an emotion is determined by the specific significance of the event”.
Moreover, an emotion has three components:
Different emotions emerge from different subjective experiences, also known as stimuli. You could have seen how people’s personal experiences influence their emotional expressions.
Take working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people were happy to start working from home as they didn't need to commute, or could spend more time with their families. Many others felt frustrated when working from home and missed face-to-face interactions with colleagues.
We feel emotions and experience physiological or bodily responses simultaneously. For example, our heart races when we’re nervous. Our facial expressions also convey our emotions as part of physiological responses. Our eyes widen when we hear something out of the blue. We smile when we are feeling happy. Although one can learn to temper their expressions of emotion, it's difficult to truly make intense emotions.
This is the actual expression of emotions. A significant amount of human interaction is based on understanding the emotional expressions of others. Behavioral responses help us signal how we’re feeling to others. For example, we express our sorrow by crying or keeping quiet. It’s important to remember that our environment and upbringing influence our behavioral responses to a great extent.
Types Of Emotions
In the 1970s, a psychologist named Paul Eckman identified six basic types of emotions that are universally present in all human cultures.
Of all the different types of emotions, happiness tends to be the emotion people seek the most. It can be defined as a pleasant emotional state that involves joy, gratification, feelings of contentment, satisfaction and well-being. Happiness and health are interconnected and there are many positive outcomes of increased happiness.
Sadness is often characterized by feelings of grief, disappointment, disinterest and hopelessness. Like other types of emotions, sadness is something that each person experiences from time to time. The severity of one's sadness depends upon the situation or event causing the sadness. Prolonged sadness can affect one's health, which is why we should address our feelings by talking to others.
This a powerful emotion rooted in our survival instincts. When we face danger, we experience fear. It gives way to two types of emotional feelings—‘fight’, or responding to the threat, and ‘flight’ or avoiding the threat. When we feel fearful, our physiological responses help ensure that we’re prepared to effectively deal with the threats in our environments.
One of the core emotional feelings is disgust. Some of the ways of expressing disgust are:
Body language, such as when we turn away from the object of disgust
Physical reactions, such as vomiting
Facial expressions, such as wrinkling our nose
Anger is one of the most powerful emotions. It involves feelings of hostility, frustration and agitation. Anger can be expressed in various ways like the tone of the voice through yelling or physical responses such as one's face turns red or the use of aggressive body language. While anger is considered a negative emotion, it can be constructive at times. It can motivate us to find solutions or make decisions when we want to solve a problem.
Surprise is briefer an emotion than the others. It is a physiological response to being startled. Surprise is not inherently a positive or negative emotion. Whether a surprise is a happy, sad or neutral one depends on the situation.
For example, a surprise birthday party is a pleasant occasion, while a friend telling you she's moving away is a sad surprise. A neutral surprise would be an unexpected outcome of a sporting match you were not invested in.
Humans are emotional creatures and it’s hard for us not to be emotional. However, we can learn to be more mindful of our emotional well-being. Harappa Education’s Embracing Change course will teach you how to embrace uncertainty and step out of your comfort zone more often. So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with your emotions and face your problems with confidence!
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