Understanding why we have emotions is your first module in the Master Your Emotions life coaching course.
Im really excited to share this emotions master class with you and I am honoured that you chose to work with The Relationship Breakthrough Coach through this leg of your journey.
I actually think a better way to begin would be to consider why do we have so many problems because of our emotions? They can get us into all kinds of trouble. Especially in the context of our relationships.
Thinking of your relationships could you you think of a time when your emotions have created some havoc for you? My guess is that you are nodding!
Emotions hold the keys to the quality of our relationships, the keys to our health an indeed the keys to the quality of our lives. And at the same time, emotions can literally destroy our dreams, and bring us to our knees in an instant.
It's almost as if our creator was messing around with their sense of humour at our expense. Its not all bad though, when you get curious about your emotions and open your mind to new understanding.
Before you take those first steps to understanding why we have emotions here are your quick links for this module.
You have to look far back enough in time to discover why we have emotions. Not just in your time line, but across all time lines. The unsophisticated origins of "man" as a species were based on two clear principles:
First we needed emotions to develop a sharp intuitive sense of danger. Maybe you became face to face with a tiger. Fight or flight. Heart pumping blood rushing, adrenaline forming preparedness in order to survive or even defeat the threat.
Second we needed a keen eye, a keen nose, and keen taste buds to identify sources of nourishment that wouldn't make us sick. Certain colours would be more attractive or pleasing to the eye for instance.
Alongside those two key principles we had the overriding goal of evolving as a species, which meant mating, reproduction and nurturing the man cubs.
Fast forward around half a million years and we still hold those early emotional lessons deep in our subconscious. We experience fight or flight even when there is no tiger in the room!
Even today we can acknowledge two prime emotions as our key motivators. Since we have become a little more sophisticated we can look upon these as "pleasure" or "pain". You are motivated primarily to avoid pain, but also to gain pleasure.
That's the first step to understanding why we have emotions.
The emergence of neuroscience and psychology has enabled us to not only recognise why we have emotions but also that emotions are the equivalent of electrical energy or pulses of energy on particular parts of the brain. The pulsed emotional energy links one area to another and forms a neural pathway. The repetition of the emotion lights up the same neural pathway and with increased repetition can make the pulse occur without significant stimuli.
The impact of the the thoughts, and the locations of the pulses within the brain can determine a specific chemical or hormone release which thus creates a physical reaction in the body. Some scientist refer to the physical reaction as "arousal", in a general sense as opposed to sexual context. That said emotions such as desire and subsequent physical arousal offer support for this theory. Another way to refer to arousal is "state" as in a "state of consciousness."
I think the most interesting aspect of arousal is that it is almost impossible to directly think about the end result and achieving it. For instance, you cannot simply think about increasing your blood pressure or heart rate and create that result, even though you can think about particular stimuli that will then lead to that result being created for you. Look Out! Tiger!
Try telling your body to shiver. It won't work. Think about a cat walking past your leg and brushing your shins. Then looking down to stroke it you realise there was no cat there at all.
When you think about why we have emotions you have to realise the benefits as well as consequences. Emotions serve us and help us make sense of the world. They make our experience of reality totally unique. Nobody else can see the world exactly as you see it. Reality is therefore merely a construction of your emotions, values, thoughts and beliefs.
We need emotions to move us, to sooth us, to get us going or to calm us down. Emotions work to stimulate or regulate us. They drive us to achieve things we want, or avoid things we don't want.
Another reason why we have emotions is that they help us remember and recall events more easily. This principle is one of the keys to effective mind-mapping. In fact the bigger an emotional response an event will generate the easier it will be to recall later.
In mind-mapping you can benefit from an emotional response to whatever it is you are learning and it will stay with you. The more powerful the emotional response, the stronger the memory recall.
I doubt that you had trouble remembering these significant events. They are really significant events and keeping alert and safe is one of the key reasons why we have emotions. We remember such events as an early warning system for future. Plus, memory recall is really useful in a quiz!
Did you know, that you can utilise the power of emotions on purpose? I will reveal more about utilising the power of emotions in Module 5: Mastering Your Emotions.
In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear presents a formula for breaking down the process of our habits. He identifies four steps:
Habits can explain why we have emotions. If there were no cue's or cravings and no reward it is difficult to imagine how we would ever amount to very much.
If there is no desire (craving) to act (response), what (cue) would make you want (reward) to act? We would become automatons, ready to be programmed to function in whatever capacity the programmer desired.
Emotions don't just affect our habits. Emotions if left uncontrolled or bottled can explode in dramatic fashion. When naturally passionate people express their emotions it can be overwhelming for more mild mannered people to witness. And vice versa, the mild mannered type can drive the passionate type crazy!
Emotions can also direct you to things you find pleasing or attractive. You will link emotional associations with objects, people, places, sights, sounds, smells, and tastes.
Name an aroma that when you smell it is absolutely delightful.
Now name an aroma that when you smell it is absolutely revolting.
Your emotional response allows you to unconsciously sort and catalogue memories that support your survival. That is precisely why we have emotions.
In a survival sense we have a lot to thank our ancestors for. They had to learn which berries gave them energy, and which made them sick. They had no concept of why we have emotions, only what helped them survive and thrive. Thankfully we don't have to learn at that level anymore, we just pick it up as we grow.
You have probably heard the saying that repetition is the mother of skill. Experiencing emotions with repetition can elicit a particular response. Either consciously, or unconsciously.
Try this example:
Think of seeing a big juicy lemon in your minds eye. Make it colour. Make it life size and as if you are looking through your own eyes.
Now reach out and pick it up. Feel its weight in your hand. Notice the dimples in the skin. Is it cooler or room temperature to touch? Press your fingers into the lemon and peel back the outer skin as juice sprays outward.
Notice the the lemony scent drifting into your nose.
Now bite down into the lemon. Feel the cool bitter citrus juices flowing down over your tongue. Notice the taste. Notice what you say to yourself as you experience the lemon.
Ok stop that. Clear the thought from your mind.
But before you do, did you notice any response in your mouth? Did your salivary glands open up. Did your cheeks pull slightly tighter in anticipation of the bitter juices?
There is no F in Lemon!
Emotions trigger us. That is why we have emotions. The dripping tap from the look of the lemon, to the feel of its skin, to the sweet citrus smell, and finally the sharp bitter taste. Eventually the dripping tap will overwhelm us and elicit a physical response in the body. It isn't only lemons that trigger us.
You have probably heard many stories about a person who had done or said something that triggered the story teller and caused them to behave a certain way. I even have my own stories. We all get triggered at some stage. And we all trigger other people at some stage too. Why do we have emotions when they create such havoc?
People often tell me how their partner had either done or said something, and then how they had responded and how it all ended in a ridiculous battle of ego. Guns were loaded, sights were aimed and the triggers were pulled.
Why do they treat me like that?
Why is it never enough?
Neither of them got out of bed that morning and prayed for a fight, so why did it happen in the first place? They fight and then make up and things work out for a while before boom it goes off again.
It's like entering into a peace agreement because you know the other side has just as many weapons of mass destruction as you. You don't really agree on the details you just agree not to destroy each other.
You are not in a relationship for protection from your partner. You are in there to love and be loved. Unconditionally.
Instead you become a slave to your emotions, and confused as to why we have emotions at all. Life hurts, relationship break ups and breakdowns hurt.
Despite the hurt you must learn. You learn about who you really are. What you like and what you don't like. What you will compromise and wont compromise. What you value most, and what you must avoid.
The trick is creating your values consciously and not being driven unconsciously by beliefs and values that you created as a child.
Some studies suggest significant emotional events (cue) can create locked-in automated responses in our unconscious mind. Those events can affect us without conscious thought. For example phobia's are an intense and immediate fear response to a particular stimulus. You didn't "choose" to be frightened of elevators, you just are.
Some say that phobia's are an "irrational response" to the stimulus, such as stepping onto an escalator or even looking at pictures of holes. Yet despite the irrational nature of the fear, the phobia exists for protection. The trouble with a phobia is that it has total control over the persons emotional reaction, whether or not there is an actual benefit (protection). Some phobia's can be particularly embarrassing, or debilitating, while others can have minimal consequences.
I love working with phobia's and transforming fear into power! Life Coaching with NLP can make dramatic shifts in your emotional responses which minimise or eradicate irrational fears that no longer serve you.
Post Traumatic Stress can occur as a result of intense stressful situation or repeated exposure to disturbing events. PTSD (Disorder) is a medically recognised condition. It was linked initially with military conflict situations but is now recognised in other stressful or disturbing situations. If you think you may be suffering PTSD I would strongly recommend you seek professional medical assessment and advice.
Rape, relationship abuse, physical assault, or even witnessing those events can lead to post traumatic stress type issues. As can prolonged exposure to abusive treatment such as bullying or harassment.
As I have already pointed out emotions don’t have to be extreme to create an unconscious reaction that re-surfaces when triggered.
Has your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, family members, managers, colleagues, shop assistants, or even just a random stranger made you furious? What did they do that caused your response?
The problem with that level thinking is that it abstracts us from all responsibility for our own desired emotional state. In other words, you became the slave to your own emotional responses.
If you let them get a grip they won't let go of you.
Learn to calibrate your response by hitting the pause button.
Given the same set of circumstances here is a better life coaching question for you:
What did they do to cause you to choose to respond with "furious"
Is that really the response you prefer?
What would be a better response in future?
Now you understand why we have emotions you are ready for the next step
Now that you have considered why we have emotions you can take the next step to Master Your Emotions. Coming up in module two you will discover the different types of emotion and how they might show up for you in your relationships.
Jump back to top of this page for links to all modules.
Relationship Breakthrough Coach provides life coaching in Mossley, Tameside, Uppermill, Saddleworth, and all surrounding areas. Sessions are available for men, women and couples who are ready to transform their health wealth and relationships.
Life coaching is a journey of self discovery. Your journey starts with the next step. You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the next step.
The power of life coaching will unlock your personal power to overcome obstacles that show up while you get to work on your dreams.
I sincerely hope you find what you were looking for.