Emotional Behavior: The Inner Compass that Guides Our Decisions

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Joe Dispenza


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Emotions add color to life. Without them, life would be flat on an emotional level, as happens to those suffering from anhedonia. But sometimes so much "color" can end up clouding our vision, generating a state similar to vertigo that prevents us from thinking clearly. If emotions overwhelm us and take over, we end up exhibiting emotional behavior that can sometimes border on the irrational.

What is emotional behavior?

In fact, all behaviors have an emotional imprint, to a greater or lesser extent, since it is virtually impossible to get rid of emotions. When we face a situation, we almost immediately experience a feeling of rejection or attraction. It depends on the somatic indicators.

In practice, our emotional brain is on permanent guard to warn us of a possible danger or, on the contrary, of situations that could give us satisfaction and pleasure. It is a mechanism that works below the level of consciousness and often triggers those visceral feelings of repulsion or attraction that we experience but cannot explain.

When the first response takes shape, different emotions emerge. This rejection can be translated into grudge, disgust or hatred as the attraction becomes curiosity, joy or happiness.

At this point two things can happen: we let ourselves be carried away by the emotions we are experiencing and react with an emotional and impulsive behavior, or we reflect and try to mitigate the impact of emotions to behave in a more reflective and rational way.

In one way or another, emotions are always present and our success and psychological well-being largely depend on our ability to recognize, interpret and manage them.

Emotional behavior makes us make extreme decisions

Emotions are like compasses, they allow us to connect with our interior and we should never ignore their message. However, emotional behavior can also create problems for us.

Getting carried away with anger, for example, will make us more inclined to blame a particular person rather than take the necessary psychological distance and think more relaxed. A study conducted at the University of Surrey showed that anger increases our willingness to take risks because it infuses us with artificial confidence by making us minimize the dangers. If we are angry, we will also be more likely to act and less open to dialogue. We must not forget that anger is an activating emotion that encourages us to pull the trigger, in a metaphorical and literal sense.

Happiness, on the other hand, is not a good counselor either, contrary to what many might think. Happier people tend to value the length of the message and its appeal more than its quality or truthfulness. In other words: we are more gullible and our reflective capacity decreases. When we feel happy, we are also more likely to take risks and compromise that we cannot satisfy.

Sadness, for example, an emotion that we usually despise and would like to avoid, can be useful in some cases because it stimulates systematic and reflective reflection that leads us to evaluate the different options. This is something positive. But too much sadness will lead us to think too much, so we will be stuck thinking about the different options without being able to decide.

This means that there are no positive or negative emotions, it all depends on their intensity and how appropriate they are in relation to the situation we are experiencing. Therefore, instead of practicing emotional behavior, we need to pause for a moment to reflect on what is truly best for us.

Emotions: A rudimentary and subjective mechanism

The main problem with emotions is that they aren't particularly sophisticated or precise, because their real purpose is to quickly tell us if a situation is dangerous or we can stay calm. To classify the situation, the emotional brain does not rely solely on what is happening, in which case the emotions would be logical, but also takes into account our experiences and expectations, which means that sometimes emotions can deceive us since they not only reflect a reaction to the environment but include our subjectivity.

For example, a person who has been in a bus accident may be afraid every time they see one, which leads them to develop emotional avoidance behavior. But in reality buses are no more or less dangerous than cars. Buses pose no danger to most people, but they generate a response of fear and rejection in those who have been in an accident due to the emotional connections created.

Emotions trigger "specific emotional behavior programs," coping styles that we have used in the past and are using without evaluating whether they are suitable for the current situation. This is the real danger of practicing emotional behavior.

How to manage emotional behavior?

- Learn to catalog emotions. Feeling irritated is not the same as feeling frustrated, happy, or elated. Correctly labeling emotions will help you understand their origin and manage them better. This list of emotions and feelings will allow you to discover the wide range of affective states that exist.

- Accept emotions. There is nothing worse than running away from emotions, avoiding them will not make them disappear, on the contrary, they will insinuate themselves into the unconscious, from where they will trigger emotional behavior. The best thing to do is to accept their presence, without judging them. At that very moment their influence will begin to wear off.

- Thinks. Emotions are sending us a message, we must not neglect it. Include emotions as one more variable in the equation when making a decision. After all, happiness lies in doing what motivates, inspires, and attracts us.


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