Better understanding emotions & feelings to calm your mind.
Emotions and feelings are words often used together to describe a state of being. However, even though these common nouns are frequently considered synonyms, their meaning differs.
Knowing their respective meanings, what they imply, and their influences on our behaviors and reactions can be helpful for our psychological balance. Indeed, when our brain is “overheated,” and we understand the function and the interaction of our emotions and feelings, we can better act to calm our minds.
Calm your mind, quiet your head, appease your spirit. In this article, I propose you understand better how all this works and give you some advice to achieve it.
What is an emotion, and what is its role?
An emotion is a brief psychological state triggered by an external stimulus captured by our five senses, which our emotional brain interprets (the limbic system) according to our filters and codings (our beliefs), such as fear, sadness, anger, joy, etc.
Its role is to allow our autonomic nervous system to move forward so that we can make decisions and act. In other words, emotion is information that helps take action.
Let’s take the example of the emotional state of fear which would occur during a fire. Instinctively, as soon as it emerges, we would take the necessary safety measures to move away from the fire or those that would allow us to put it out.
Another illustration is the emotion of anger, which would allow us to mobilize the energy we would need to protect ourselves from behavior that we would have coded as harmful, even dangerous.
For a state of joy, of which our profound nature is in constant search, we would exchange smiles, laughter, or even words to amplify it to create a bond with others.
Emotion is, therefore, a transmitter of information and a motor for action, which, once its mission is accomplished, disappears to make room for feelings.
What is a feeling, and what is its role?
The cortex, not the limbic system, manages feelings resulting from representing and interpreting a situation, words, and events. But also from everything perceived and filtered by our senses, which initially generates an emotion.
Let’s take the example of the deep sadness that a person would feel when their spouse announces that they are leaving.
This emotion will last as long as it takes for a reaction to occur or for an action or decision to be taken (slamming the door, running to a friend’s house, taking a melatonin pill or a Xanax, etc.). After that, it will give way to many feelings generated by a thought:
- Thought: He left me for another. Feeling: depressed, resentment.
- Thought: He doesn’t love me anymore. Feeling: Vulnerability, loneliness.
- Thought: He doesn’t realize the harm he is doing to me. Feeling: Bitterness, incomprehension.
- Thought: What would I become without him? Feeling: Despair, anxiety.
A feeling is, therefore, the expression, the manifestation of a thought associated with a past emotion, itself linked to a revolute event.
In other words, it is the product of our mind that does not miss a single opportunity to feed new feelings to the triggers of our emotional states (negative and positive) to amplify them and make them even more real.
How to calm your mind to find peace?
When we find ourselves in a negative emotional spiral, we can act on our feelings if we can’t change the situation that caused the torment and control our emotions the moment they appear. How can we do this?
By holding our thoughts that wander in time in search of evidence, justifications, and questioning which maintain them.
Here are a few tips and things to know to achieve this mastery in case of need for cerebral appeasement.
To settle down and place one’s attention on oneself.
To free oneself from all incipient thoughts by shifting one’s consciousness to one’s breathing or the sensory perceptions of one’s body, focusing all your attention on them.
Sports and meditation help bring the mind back to the global awareness of oneself.
Avoid vocabulary that stimulates the mind.
In other words, avoid words that question, such as who, why, when, and how; they stimulate thoughts and exalt feelings.
Rather than asking questions repeatedly, let the answers come in their own time.
Bring thoughts back into the present moment.
Contrary to our wandering thoughts, our body is always present at the moment. Here and now, where the calm and serenity of the moment prevail.
In this current space, we should bring our thoughts; into that place where there is no question of tomorrow and yesterday, which, when faced with a difficult situation, generate feelings such as stress, anxiety, regret, etc.
Disassociate ourselves from our thoughts.
Despite Descartes’ famous Cogito, which marks our unconscious (I think; therefore I am), we must understand that we are not our thoughts but the consciousness which observes them.
And that integrating this allows us to distance ourselves from them. This position of observer instantly calms the mind.
Our peace is at the mercy of our minds; it depends on our beliefs and formatting, some of which generate negative emotions and feelings that we would prefer to be free. In other words, our calmness is the business of our brain, which uses our well-honed programs to perfection, but which we can modify.
This reading will certainly have stimulated your cortex and, I hope, given you the pleasant feeling of now being able to control your thoughts to calm your mind and improve your communication with others.
Because understanding the role of emotions and the mental origin of feelings allows us to apprehend from a different angle our relationships with others and with ourselves.
I wish your mind the calm you need to live serenely and in peace.