Emotions, feelings, sensations. It doesn’t matter what you call them, sometimes they can be tricky. I have even heard people say that it would be better or easier not to feel emotions. Obviously these kinds of statements are made after being hurt but imagine if you really were unable to feel! Sure you would never have your heart broken or experience the crushing pain of desperate sadness but you would also miss out on love, joy and excitement. I, for one, do not think that is a fair trade off and I am very thankful for the functionality of my limbic system.
Emotions are ‘controlled’ by the good old limbic system which involves many parts of the brain. Some of which experts can’t seem to decide upon because the brain is so complex but they all agree on the big 4 of hypothalamus, amygdala, thalamus and hippocampus. I used to hear these words tossed around a fair bit but never really understood the roles they played in emotions. This has become my new research obsession along with neuroplasticity which I shall talk about another day. I have read about theories of emotions and analysed how each one could work in different situations. I have listened to lectures about the three components of emotion; behavioural, physiological and cognitive and understood each and how they work. I have enjoyed researching about the Autonomic Nervous System and how it produces physiological markers for emotions and how our body is affected. I have learned many interesting things as a result of my research which will always be ongoing but today it led me to think about my own emotions and the emotions of others.
I’m sure that we have all been put through a very wide range of emotions within our lifetime from elation to misery and everything in between but when do we ever take the time to sit and reflect upon those emotions and analyse why we felt that way? Have I felt that before? Was it different this time? If yes, why? Was that emotion aroused because of what I brought to the situation? Am I being influenced by outside factors or is this raw emotion? These are the types of questions I ask myself very regularly to better understand myself, my reactions and emotions. Not for every single emotion every single time, that would be madness, but I’m talking about those big emotions that we feel: elation, love, pride, devastation. Emotions are temporary and can pass by very quickly but I believe that we always feel the way we do for a reason. It could be because of past experiences or it might be an initial reaction or it could sometimes be a physiological response over which you have no control or it could be the Universe trying to teach you something. All emotions are good! Not all emotions feel good but I think that by allowing yourself to feel that emotion to its fullest, you open the door to understanding the emotion better and therefore understanding the lesson you’re meant to learn. Reflecting on and understanding the ‘why’ is important, I think, because it also allows us to recognise this emotion next time which can often help us deal with it better.
In my experience, it is always better to feel the emotion…even the hard ones. I haven’t always shown my emotions (or discussed them) but I have always given myself permission to completely feel them. I am asking you to give yourself permission to feel! I mean really feel. You might not want to SHOW but please FEEL. Allow your limbic system to function the way it was designed to function and give it a workout. The next time you’re really sad, give yourself a little bit of time to FEEL it, acknowledge it, experience it, recognise it and understand it. It’s temporary, as all emotions are so allow yourself to feel it and then let it go, ready for next time. Do the same thing the next time you’re happy too. Just feel! Even though our heart has nothing to do with it: go forth my friends and feel with all your heart (because saying – feel with all your limbic system doesn’t have the same ring to it!)