Where The Hell Do Emotions Come From?
Why do we as humans yearn for the new house; the new relationship; or new job? Because of how we believe we will feel when we have it.
Today we’re going to talk about feelings and emotions—specifically where they come from and how to build awareness around them.
First, let’s talk about why emotions are important. In all my years of working in corporate America, I cannot tell you how many times I heard people tell each other how emotional they are and how they shouldn’t be in order to get the work done.
Here’s the thing, emotions are important because they literally drive every single action we take….or don’t take.
When we understand where emotions come from and how to create them, we can better learn how to manage and harness them to accomplish whatever we want to accomplish.
Let’s define what a feeling is – a feeling starts in the mind as a thought and becomes a vibration in the body.
This is different from a sensation, which is triggered by the body and then sends a signal to your brain.
Hunger for example, can fit into either category—both as a feeling and as a sensation. You can physically feel the sensation of hunger, where your stomach is growling because you need sustenance; but you can also feel hungry without any physical sensations (as a feeling)—emotional eaters like myself, you know what I’m talking about.
Most people believe things outside of themselves cause feelings. They believe feelings are involuntary and are caused by situations or other people: getting a speeding ticket, burning cookies 15 min before the bake sale, or the customer yelling at you for a mistake they actually made.
I want to take a moment to blow your mind… and let you know that none of those things are actually making you feel a certain way. Your thoughts actually create your feelings! WHA?
A LOT of people believe their feelings are what cause their thoughts. However, this just isn’t true. The reason they believe this is because they aren’t aware of their thoughts. We have an average of 60,000-90,000 thoughts a day and most of them run hidden in the background.
How would you feel if you got pulled over for a speeding ticket? Let’s say four separate people got pulled over. One gets frustrated, another defensive; another confused and one is ashamed. How can the same situation (aka getting pulled over for a speeding ticket) be the cause of all these different emotions? They can’t.
But what is different for each of them is what they thought about getting pulled over. Here are some examples of the feeling matched with their potential thought:
• Frustrated – “I don’t have time for this”
• Defensive – “I didn’t do anything wrong”
• Confused – “But I was going the posted speed limit”
• Ashamed – “I knew I shouldn’t have been going that fast”
There are four main ways we deal with our emotions: (1) Resist (2) React (3) Avoid (4) and Allow. Today we’re going to focus on the first three as they are common and the most problematic for people.
There is a part of our brain (actually two parts) called the Amygdalae [uh-mig-duh-lee] that help us regulate emotions. You may have heard of this part of the brain referred to as the primitive brain, lizard brain, or primal brain; and the association with our fight/flight/freeze responses. However, fight/flight/freeze only fall under one of the main three purposes of our amygdalae.
The three main purposes of our primal brain are:
(1) Protect us from/avoid pain
(2) Seek pleasure, and
(3) Conserve energy (aka be efficient)
We in the biz refer to this as the Motivational Triad.
The funny part about our primal brain is that it hasn’t really evolved since our caveman days. It can’t differentiate that physical danger and emotional danger are different. So it acts as if the possibility of being eaten by a sabretooth tiger back in the day is the same as a friend or spouse sneaking up and scaring us today in the present. Our amygdalae process these things the same when they are in-fact two different levels of “danger”.
Now that we know where emotions come from (our thoughts) and the way our brain regulates emotion, we can now build up our own awareness.
This is the first step to harnessing our emotions—building awareness. This helps us to use our emotions as information for us to consider; but don’t necessarily have to be acted upon. As our self-awareness grows, we learn to make our thoughts and emotions work for us rather than against us.
Let your emotions become triggers for you to switch into your conscious mind so you can make decisions and decide to take actions from a clean space rather than just reacting to the emotion from your primitive brain (aka Amygdalae).
If you are tired of waiting for the new house/car/relationships/job/whatever to feel better, shoot me a message and let’s chat, because you are only one thought and one emotion away to living a better life.
“CHANGE HOW YOU SHOW UP IN THE WORLD, THEN GO OUT AND CHANGE THE WORLD!”–Cameron Nichols