What are emotions?

“When one has the feeling of dislike for evil, when one feels tranquil, one finds pleasure in listening to good teachings; when one has these feelings and appreciates them, one is free of fear.” Buddha

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” Stephen Covey

What are emotions? Merriam-Webster.com defines it as: a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioural changes in the body. The French word émouvoir,(which means “to stir up”) in 1800’s was used in psychological category by academics as emotion as a scientific term. Before the use of the word was in common use words like passions , sentiments and affections. Interestingly the concept of emotions in different language groups vary in definition. For example fear was related to anxiety. In other languages the word fear related to regrets and grief. In some cultures different emotion had contrasting effects either positive or negative. This is useful to know because our understanding of a emotion could be totally different from someone else interpretation of a word. Language continues to evolve rapidly in today’s generation for example my children use the expression”it’s sick “ means awesome and cool.

Emotions are a very complex subject because we are very complex individuals from diversity of knowledge and culture to our own personal experiences of emotions. The beauty of having human relationships compared animals relationships. Humans have the capacity to have feelings with emotions at a far deeper level than any other living organism on this planet. We may love our dog ,we may have a relationship with our cat ,we may talk to our parrot.To have real connections we need feedback verbally from another humans. With important ideas and concepts humanity can communicate means ideas that will enrich life for both parties.

The classical theory of what emotions are is out of date but many still cling to that redundant idea. The old classical idea was taught that humans were born with a set of emotions. The Physcologist Lisa Feldman Barrett and neuroscientist in her brilliant book explains how emotions are constructed. I will describe briefly her concept of constructed emotions.The brain has a huge network operating systems organising the body survival mode. In essence the brain links the word to a constructed event in the memory with all the body systems linked to that word and memory. The experiences we feel , we see , we hear etc are encoded in the brain as an emotion. For example the body senses of happiness is related to all the good events happened in your life especially the positive body gains. The heat of the sun, refreshing cold drink, the lovely tasty meal and the sound of relaxing music. Our parents and friends relate what they felt and labelled it. Imagine you are born blind , describe the sky as blue, but we could change the word and say it’s purple the blind person has no reference.We have the ability to relate our experiences to others on how we felt. Emotions are a very personal and subjective idea and to say we know how a person feels is probably very limiting and maybe wrong.

The great concept available now is to enhance our vocabulary and our language of emotions what they actually mean to us and others. The ultimate challenge with our emotional histories is to become a PhD in this exciting emotional language with receiving the diploma of emotional intelligence. With this accolade it will enhance the opportunity for success in life with meaningful relationships and greater success. The four semesters of learning this skill covers the topics of self awareness, social awareness,self management and relationship management.

Self Compassion

What is self compassion? self compassion is same as compassion to others, dictionary.com defines compassion “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering”. It reminds me of the powerful lesson taught by Jesus Christ and the parable of the Good Samaritan. A young lawyer questioned Jesus “ what must I do to have everlasting life?”.Jesus very cleverly asked him a question find out what was really on his mind. The young lawyer answered in part “love your neighbour”. In effect what the lawyer believed love of neighbour was we don’t really know. Brilliantly Jesus defines love or compassion by his famous parable in Luke 10. The Good Samaritan has what Carl Rogers says in Psychology Unconditional positive regard. Basically accepts and loves the person for what he or she is.  Positive regard is not withdrawn if the person does something wrong or makes a mistake. A lead expert Kristin Neff says Self-compassion involves responding in the same supportive and understanding way you would with a good friend when you have a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself.

Kristen Neff says there are 3 elements to self compassion 1 Self kindness 2 Humans have common shared experiences 3 mindfulness being aware of our thoughts and feelings. She has many resources online which you may very useful. In essence step outside of yourself and look at your situation and you will know what your needs are. If you find this an overwhelming experience and have a very critical inner voice speak to a trusted friend about your situation. Even better a trained therapist will guide you through the process.

An example of finding a new loving relationship. I will only cover a couple of ideas but each individual has a different story to tell. You may believe that you are ugly, fat , bent nose etc. Basically feel you are unattractive to everyone and what’s the point of looking for a new relationship. Now become self compassionate what would a true friend say about your authentic self. Kristen Neff element of kindness would have a positive response. The human element that that there are plenty of examples worldwide of love between diverse individuals. Thirdly where is the idea or thought of unattractive self come from are we aware of feelings and situations that trigger the inner critic.

To love yourself is to be compassionate with yourself. Are these self condemning judgements echos of childhood misery or recent conflicts of others. Traumatic scars raise thier ugly truths to suppress the authentic self. Every living human brain can control the mind on what to think and feel and this in turn will be evident by your behaviour. Give that compassionate self a name and nurture it , look after it and guide it with wisdom. If you don’t look after your compassionate self the inner demon can take over the mind to disastrous consequences. Listen to your body needs and looking after the soul as your best friend.”We must learn to sail in high winds. ” said Aristotle. We have the great navigator on our journey though life the authentic self.’If we falter and lose our freedoms”that is out true self, “it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln.

10% Challenge

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The easiest route is to stay in bed that extra 10 minutes on a Sunday morning. The difficult route is to say no to that early night when you are having fun. The choices we make in life become routines of habitual rituals often without conscious thought. The alarm goes off , jump out of bed do probably what you have done for days, weeks or even years.

The 10% challenge could be a personal , family , business or with any group. The idea is to stop and reflect on areas of your life with the aim to improve by 10%. You could argue that figure is too high why not 1% or 5%. The problem is when you start low it is harder to increase the percentage and performance because it becomes two tasks rather than one. Psychological it is more effective for the mind to have higher goals than mediocre low threshold motivations. Locke and Latham’s Theory basically says that motivation and performance are effected by the level of challenge. Imagine you had a 50% challenge that could lead to disappointments and frustration. The other extreme of 1% could feel too easy to bother and put effort forward. The Reward incentive area in the brain will be activated at the right level by positively programming the brain for future growth at the right goal % challenge.

You could start the 10% challenge in 4 main areas of your life then break each area into subcategories. The advantages of this will help you to focus on 1 challenge to implement into your life as a habitual functionality. For example the area of personal a subcategory could be money. Assess the budget and implement the needed changes. Word of caution so you don’t become overwhelmed or disheartened by the challenge keep it simple. Money category could be divided down into subcategories or up scaled simplest equation of 10% all total income per month save 10%.

Here is a suggestion of 10% challenge with subcategories

1 Personal life

A: Money B: Health C:Relationships D:Recreations E:Other

2 Family life

A: Time B:Quality C:Needs

3 Work Life

A: Productivity B: Satisfaction C: Time

4 Social life

A: Engagement B:Quality C Functionally