Emotions have been a subject of research since the beginning of the 20th century. Although it’s not a new subject, it was well documented by the stoicism philosophy, which dates back to the 3rd century.
In stoicism philosophy, it was believed that one needs to learn what is in one’s control to change and what isn’t. Some events may not be in our control, but what is in our control is our reaction to those events. It wasn’t necessarily specifically about mastering emotional states, but it was part of the practice.
Today, Stoicism is a practice that is becoming more and more popular; the goal is to develop the ability not to let events trigger some emotional disturbance. In another way, it’s about not allowing adverse events or drama to affect us and regulate our emotions. It will enable many of us to operate in a very stressful situation while remaining calm, composed, and undisturbed by the chaos around us. Stoicism is not about ignoring or blocking emotions but more about learning to tame them and not let emotions take over your life. When someone can reach a certain level of Stoicism, he or she can be less reactive and make a better decision.
Based on research, emotions live on a spectrum or a continuum that, on the one hand, is fear and on the other is love. Between love and fear, we experience a variety of emotions, which is like a gradient and not necessarily a matter of fact. Love would be the more positive emotions, and fear would be the more negative emotions.
Facts About Emotions
- When a person experiences an overflow of emotions, there is a “disconnection” between two important spheres of the brain: the limbic brain (the seat of emotions) and the neocortex (the seat of reflection). That is why it is impossible to reason with a person or even discuss with him/her when he/she is in an emotional crisis.
- Every emotion has a purpose and helps us survive and grow. Emotions function to guide us to survive and thrive. Experiencing an emotion of joy is a sign that we are aligned with aspects that can bring well into our life. When we experience anger, it is a sign that there might be some blockages or elements that we need to heal within.
- Emotions emerge from a signal released by our brain in response to how we perceive the world around us. This explains if you perceive yourself as safe, you will have no fear where someone in the same situation as you are might feel unsafe and experience an emotion of fear.
- According to neuroscience, emotions only last 90 seconds.
- Emotions are neutral, but it is the reaction of our feelings that will make us perceive them as good or bad.
Many often confuse emotions and feelings, yet they are two different aspects that are very much connected.
Emotions Versus Feelings
An emotion is a physiological reaction, lasting only three to four minutes maximum. It allows our body to respond in an adapted way to a stimulus from the environment: the body is put under tension, energetically mobilized to act or flee. Emotion has a bio-regulatory function since the discharge of emotion allows the body to return to its fundamental equilibrium.
If emotions are a purely physiological reaction, feelings are a mental construction. It is an emotional state of a psychological nature, even if a feeling can be an extension of emotion (for example, anxiety in relation to fear, disappointment in relation to sadness). Feelings are what makes us experience an emotion over and over again. When we can’t let go of an emotion, it’s because we connect it with a mental activity that tends to relieve the past or focus on the future. In the next chapter, you will learn about the mind and its impact on emotions.