"Oh, there’s a spider!" - about emotions
Emotions play a key role in human life. They help to better understand other people, and also facilitate adaptation to changing environment. The ability of recognizing emotions in oneself and others is called emotional intelligence. People develop it throughout their whole life, but the key role is played by proper development in this area already in childhood, when the first foundations are formed, and when we learn to distinguish individual emotional states.
The most important “emotional” teachers are parents and closest caretakers, who are usually the first source of knowledge on this subject. When a child starts learning, his social circle also expands. In addition to education, the school also plays a very important role for social development and forming standards. Teachers, educators as well as peers become an important part in providing knowledge about what is socially acceptable. They also provide evidence that people differ in their perception of the surrounding world.
Below some facts about emotions are presented.
#Fact 1. Emotions and thoughts
How we feel or what emotions arise in response to a particular situation depends mostly on our thoughts. The significance we attribute to events is therefore crucial in terms of what emotion we will react to and which behavior will result in.
#Fact 2. Emotions and beliefs
Our interpretations of events mostly depend on our beliefs. Beliefs are a set of different principles, attitudes and views, which are shaped on the basis of our experience and observations. As an example, while seeing the box, we might think that we will find a gift inside, and this in turn will probably cause joy. We may also recall that in the past we found the spiders of which we are afraid. We may also think that inside the box is garbage that your sister was supposed to throw away, and we may become angry because of that. A seemingly ordinary box could therefore be evaluated in different ways and cause different reactions in each case.
#Fact 3. Emotions are not facts
Our subjective feelings and automatic reactions often make us to follow them without thinking about their genesis. Emotions are not always a good advisors, especially on things that are important to us. It is sometimes worth looking for the source of emotions, and think about what caused it and whether it is certainly a suitable and accurate indicator.
#Fact 4. Thoughts pretending to be emotions
There are thoughts that we treat as if they were emotions. Examples of such thoughts include: "I feel you don't like me," "I feel criticized," "I feel you don't want to play with me".
The distinction between thoughts and emotions is important, as we cannot question feelings, contrarily to thoughts which we could influence. Having said that, it is worth to name emotions and validate them - so if someone feel sadness because of the thought “I feel I am ignored”, it means that the one attaches special importance to this thought /event and needs the emotion to be understood.
Emotional intelligence plays an important role in human development. Knowing emotions and where they come from, we are able to respond adequately to a given situation. It's easier for us to understand other people and their actions when we can determine the reasons for their behavior. The ability of recognizing and dealing with emotions is an inseparable element of both intellectual and social development - it supports dealing with failures or successes and establishing relationships.
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doświadczenie czy zdarzenie interpersonalne? Poznań: Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
Rosenberg, M.B. (2003). Nonviolent communication: A language of life. Encinitas: PuddleDancer Press.
Written by Karolina Ciesielka, psychologist.