What Are Emotions? A Bonus Compilation of Explainer Break Downs

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This is some pretty helpful background information about emotions, what are emotions, and how do they work, entirely borrowed from my Instagram posts which you can view below on this page, or browse @the.sugar.doctor at your leisure.

Table of Contents

    What Are Emotions?

    View original post in full on IG here.

    What is an Emotion Scheme?

    WHAT ARE EMOTIONS?

    Imagine an emotion as being like an atom, the smallest unit of data of human experience.

    The purpose of those emotions is to process environmental information, and adapt to that environment by priming us for an action that moves us toward a goal.

    PRIMARY EMOTIONS are innate and hardwired, and contain a nucleus of;

    • Adaptive information (concern)
    • Action tendency (physiological & cognitive priming)
    • Need/desire (goal)

    For example, in an environment where there is a threat, we adapt to that concern by activating the primary emotion of fear and that action tendency in the nucleus of fear primes us physiologically (the activation of the sympathetic nervous system) to move towards the goal / need of safety & protection.

    These needs are survival based. We move toward the feelings that aid our survival, and over time we develop preferences that support & recreate those feels.

    Primary emotions are innate, which means that we are born with them, and they are also common to all humans. Over time, and through lived experience, those emotions become layered structures of memory which incorporate;

    • Affect (the physiological base, sensations)
    • Behaviour (actions, action scripts, and patterns of action)
    • Cognition (Images, evaluations, meanings, learned experience)

    These memory structures are known as EMOTION SCHEMES.

    What is the Purpose of Emotions?

    Emotions provide us with FEEDBACK about our reactions to situations & environments.

    Consciously FEELING emotion in connection with the EVOKING situation, object, person, or environment, allows us to have control over our REACTIONS which opens up drop-down menus of choices for our actions.

    This gives us agency and choice.
    What I mean by ‘consciously feeling’ is to feel into your physiological sensory inputs.

    For example, I feel ‘Love’ when I look at my dog Roo sleeping. The conscious feelings associated with that are;
    • An increase in temperature through my upper torso
    • A soft relaxation of the muscles in my jaw, shoulders, and chest
    • Full exhalation of breath, followed by slower breathing
    • A sense of being grounded, my energy moves from my head to my centre & down to my feet
    • A very slight tingly energy.

    Those feels then become data for me.

    When I notice that exact specific set of physiological sensations, I can ask myself “am I feeling love?” And then the set of behavioural options on MY dropdown menu associated with ‘love’, become available.

    Over time, with sensitisation through embodiment practices, cognitive & behavioural inputs, and lived experience, I can become increasingly more discerning about the accuracy of the information that I get from my emotions.

    I can also increase the options on my drop-down menu, depending on the outcomes of my behaviours & actions. That is, did I reach my intended goal? What happened?

    Over time, this leads to increased choices, enhanced intuition, and clarity in decision making.

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