Emotions here to guide us

Updated: Jun 24

#emotionaleducation #emotionalregulation

How come I feel?

Our emotional reactions appropriate vs inappropriate? Most of the time our emotions are guided by our values are there to give meaning to our experiences. They enable us to focus on what is most important in life as well as providing us with many different kinds of enjoyment. However, our emotions get us into trouble by leading us to respond in ways that are inappropriate for the circumstances. In order to determine whether our emotional reactions are appropriate versus inappropriate, we have to first be able to accurately identify what we’re feeling. Once we know what the underlying emotion is, we can then assess how appropriate it is by considering the following:

  1. Feeling an emotion that’s appropriate for the situation, but at a level of intensity that’s inappropriate. For example, it’s appropriate to feel worried (fearful) if a friend hasn’t responded to our calls after a couple of days trying. However, it is inappropriate to feel panicked or terrified if this friend is known for their poor communication and typically doesn’t respond until the weekend.

  2. Feeling an appropriate emotion but expressing it in an inappropriate manner. For example, anger would be justified if we believed our partner purposefully ignored or disregarded something we said that is important. However, punishing them with the silent treatment in return would be an inappropriate expression of our frustration.

  3. Feeling an emotion that is inappropriate based on the situation. For example, it’s appropriate to feel disappointed (sadness) after discovering your coworker got a job promotion instead of you, but it would be be inappropriate to experience rage (anger) over the decision.

Why do we become emotional? Given that not every single minute of life is emotional, the question remains: how come we get emotional? The most common way in which emotions occur is when we perceive ,sense, factually or inaccurately something we think, which turns into a feeling. This isn’t the only route for becoming emotional, however the challenge is how to manage out triggers.

This is a simple idea but a important one — emotions evolved to prepare us to deal quickly with the most vital events in our lives. Think of a time when you were driving your car and suddenly another car appeared, going very fast, seeming as if it were about to hit you. Your conscious mind was focused on an interesting conversation with a friend in the passenger seat or listening to podcast. In an instant, before you had time to think, before the conscious, self aware part of your mind could consider the matter, danger was sensed and fear began. Emotions Guide Can Us Paul Ekman mentions that as an emotion begins, it takes over us in those first milliseconds, directing our immediate thoughts and behaviors. In another words what we think is what we feel resulting in what we do(actions). These unconscious and subconscious directions are more prevalent than what any of us might be comfortable with, but the reality that we are in control of our actions (and, especially reactions) is not entirely true. For example, without consciously choosing to do so, most drivers would find themselves automatically turning the steering wheel and hitting the brakes in an effort to avoid hitting another motorist. At the same time your hands begin to frantically turn the wheel and your legs move to brace yourself, an expression of fear is simultaneously flashing across your face — brows raised and drawn together, eyes opened wide, lips stretched back towards your ears. As the adrenaline continues to be released into your system, you begin to feel the physical sensations of your heart pumping more rapidly and you may even begin to sweat, the blood rushing to the large muscles of your legs. Regardless of how close we get to facing actual (versus perceived) danger, our automatic responses don’t differ much; you would have made that fearful facial expression even if the other motorist you were trying to avoid turned out to be a parked car that you misjudged to be on the road. The same goes for your heart — it would begin to pump more rapidly even if you did not engage in a sudden physical exertion requiring increased blood circulation. These responses occur because, over the course of our evolution, it has been useful for others to know when we sense danger, and it has similarly been useful for our bodies to be prepared to run at a moment’s notice when we experience fear.

How Emotions Prepare Us Emotions prepare us to deal with important events without us having to think about what to do. You would not have survived that near-miss car accident if you weren’t continually monitoring the world for signs of imminent danger, or even potential threats. Nor would you have survived if you had to think consciously about what you should do to cope with that threat once it became apparent. Emotions do this without your knowing it is happening, and much of the time that’s good for you (and those around you)! Once the danger passed, you will still feel the fear churning away inside. It would take 10 to 15 seconds for those sensations to subside, and there would not be much you could do to cut that short. Emotions produce changes in parts of our brain that mobilize us to deal with what has set off the emotion, as well as changes in our autonomic nervous system, which regulates our heart rate, breathing, sweating, and many other bodily changes, preparing us for different actions. Emotions also send out signals, changes in our expressions, face, voice, and bodily posture. We don’t choose these changes; they simply happen.

Learn How to Read Different Emotions Facial expressions clue us into the emotional experiences of others. Typically, we observe these as macro expressions, meaning the facial expression is obvious and typically observable for at least a couple of seconds. However, when we attempt to conceal, minimise, and even falsify our emotions, there’s a good chance that our true feelings are still being expressed, but they’re typically only visible for a fraction of a second. These split-second facial expressions are called micro expressions and they are a great indicator that someone is lying or otherwise attempting to conceal what they truly feel and think about the situation. While it is difficult if not impossible to curb our natural response to emotions, each of us is able to become more adept at spotting and interpreting the micro expressions of others with guided training.


Learn How to Read Different Emotions Facial expressions clue us into the emotional experiences of others. Typically, we observe these as macro expressions, meaning the facial expression is obvious and typically observable for at least a couple of seconds. However, when we attempt to conceal, minimise, and even falsify our emotions, there’s a good chance that our true feelings are still being expressed, but they’re typically only visible for a fraction of a second. These split-second facial expressions are called micro expressions and they are a great indicator that someone is lying or otherwise attempting to conceal what they truly feel and think about the situation. While it is difficult if not impossible to curb our natural response to emotions, each of us is able to become more adept at spotting and interpreting the micro expressions of others with guided training.


If you would like to learn more, contact me at Redlands Counselling Service at Capalaba 1300 241 667 or email redlandscounselling@gmail.com

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