Emotions – around us, and within us. It is an excellent chance that if you look around, you’ll see how someone is experiencing any kind of emotion. Or just trying to make you feel a little bit emotional. People literally can cheer you up, make dark clouds disappear or make your bright shiny day miserable if you let them.
Nevertheless, there are still widespread myths about what we can do with our emotions and how much they can be responsible for our behavior. These myths are so represented in our daily speech that we often don’t question them, but in fact, they have misunderstood the mechanism of the origin, duration, and cessation of some feelings.
Emotions can be controlled
You can see the manifestation of this myth even in tips that you can get from people who may have a good intention, but don’t understand the mechanism of emotion. They occur under the influence of the limbic system in our brain, while the prefrontal cortex is responsible for conscious thinking and planning. In other words, trying to control your emotions would be like trying to calm the wild beast by reading an inspirational quote about inner peace. Naturally, it will not work.
Does this mean that we can’t do anything at all when the emotion arises? In other words, that we must react according to that temporary narrowing of consciousness? Of course not. Although we can not choose when the emotions emerge, we can decide what we will do with it and how to react.
Blame the influence of the emotions
You know when we say or do something unadvisedly, our excuse is that we did it in affect. And indeed, the affection is recognized by the judiciary, so, for some things we can be punished less if it really turns out that we have reacted to the affect. However, this still doesn’t mean that emotion is a perfect excuse for what we do under its influence.
In the past, for example, a human could manage to escape from a dangerous animal, thanks to the fear. However, this reaction has remained to us, although the environment we live in now is entirely different. The same emotion of fear can save our lives – by running away when we see a dangerous animal approaching us. However, in interpersonal relations (usually) there are no such scenarios. But interpersonal relationships are precisely the environment in which our emotions create the most significant difficulties. And that’s why we often say things like “I wouldn’t, but he made me upset,” “She knew she would make me angry, but she continued to argue,” and so on. No matter how much someone really was the initiator of the chain reaction of creating an emotion that resulted in some kind of behavior, this one is never responsible for what we did with that emotion. Our feelings are our responsibility, which primarily applies to actions that emerge from these emotions.
Emotions can be switched off
Negative emotions are the ones we usually want to exclude. Negative in the sense that they are unpleasant and that it would be better for us when we just would not feel them at all. So people sometimes ask psychologists to reveal the secret of how to stop being sad, angry or disappointed. However, both positive and negative emotions are part of us, and it is quite normal to feel them. Sometimes it’s normal to be sad, angry, frightened, worried. Even if we could exclude emotions, it would not be a wise move. This way, we take away our inner world from a critical dimension – that our own organism sends us a message that we are in a situation that is important for us, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant.
If you think positive, you will also have pleasant emotions
You will recognize this myth as part of the so-called “thoughts of positive” tyranny, which has begun from a reasonable premise, but through the sea of uncritically adapted and propagated content through the so-called popular psychology, it has got an entirely different meaning. A positive attitude in life is essential, but we cannot force ourselves to think, let alone feel.
I’m just such a person, and there’s nothing I can do about it
This is the perfect sentence for avoiding any responsibility as to how we react to our emotions and others. It originates from ignorance and the strong belief that with some kind of set of properties we are born, and there is nothing more that can be done. After all, it’s easier to believe that the reactions we have naturally been given to us, and nothing can be repaired here anymore. Although it is true that certain predispositions towards certain lines and states are inherited or, roughly speaking, adopted before birth (the period of prenatal development), most of the reactions to the world around us are actually taught. “Biology” exists, but it alone is not responsible for what we are today. There are equally important environmental factors as well as the interaction between these two factors – heritage and learning.