Everyone has different kinds of needs, as Maslow rightfully explained through his pyramid. Some of our needs are basic, such as eating and protection, others have to do with relationships, such as affection and recognition. Emotions help us meet our needs since they help us survive, allowing us to know the difference between a good and a bad situation. They also encourage us to relate and communicate with others.
They’re like our unseparable friends we take with us on vacation. However, we sometimes can feel annoyed by our own emotions, so we must learn to manage them adequately in order to get a better internal coexistence.
We exist and communicate thanks to our emotions
Emotions are necessary for survival; one of their main functions is to prepare us physiologically for action. Many animals show very effective emotional behaviors, meaning there are certain emotions that help us take action right away. This is perhaps the first way in which emotions help us meet our needs.
For example, if you feel scared by looking at a snake, your body is going to react even before thinking if it’s poisonous or not. In this case, your heart rate will increase in order to send more blood to the muscles so you can escape the possible danger. This way, if you need to get away from a situation quickly, you’ll act instead of wasting time thinking.
Your emotions tell others how you perceive and interpret internal and external stimuli. We generally communicate this in a non-verbal way. This type of communication is faster, more natural, and more intuitive than verbal communication. This means that, even if it’s not your intention, your emotions will influence others.
Emotions guide us because they give us valuable information about each situation. They can help you understand if you like the situation you’re in or not. That way, depending on how you feel, you’ll want to repeat the experience or avoid it. They’re like an internal compass that help us orient ourselves and know what’s really important.
Emotions help us meet our needs
No emotion is either positive or negative, some of them just turn out to be great (like happiness) and others, well, not so great (like sadness or anger). Every single emotion has a purpose, they’re all valid and necessary. They’re your travel buddies, they’ll go with you everywhere you go and tell you what you need. Let’s see some examples:
- Anger: We feel angry during unfair situations, perhaps moments when we feel our rights are not being taken into consideration. We need to set limits and protect ourselves.
- Sadness: We feel sad when we experience the loss of a person, object, job, etc.
- Fear: We experience fear when facing a dangerous situation. We need to feel protected and secure.
- Joy: Good experiences, winning something, succeeding at work or school, among many other things make us feel joy. We usually want to share this feeling with other people.
If you didn’t feel anger, would you protect yourself? If you were never sad, would you know how to face losses? How could you know you were facing danger if it wasn’t for fear? Would you be able to know what makes you happy if it wasn’t for joy? Your emotions are there for a reason – let them guide you!
“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”
4 strategies to regulate emotions
Even though it’s okay for them to guide you, make sure they do so the right way. Don’t let yourself get carried away by impulses and also pay attention to your thoughts. You shouldn’t let yourself be flooded with emotions without keeping your mind on track. This is why it’s important to learn to manage them correctly. The four following strategies will help you regulate them:
Being aware of the emotion you’re feeling will surely help you manage it. Knowing how to differentiate, for example, if you’re sad or angry and being able to distinguish between the concrete situation or the thought that made this emotion arise, will allow you to act accordingly. In addition, being conscious of our own emotions can help you identify them on others, making you more empathetic.
Despite the fact that there are emotions we might consider negative, such as sadness and anger, it’s vital to learn to tolerate them instead of keeping them from your emotional repertoire. Emotions come and go, it’s a process. If you’re sad right now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be sad forever or that you’re a sad person. Try not to block or suppress your emotions; listen to them, feel them, and learn to cope with them.
We’re all capable of self-regulating. Don’t just let the feeling go away over time, do something about it! Try your best to make negative thoughts leave your mind and focus on the positive side of things. Distract yourself or do something you like in order to decrease the intensity of your emotions. Work on yourself and learn to control your impulses. That way, you’ll be taking care of yourself while improving your well-being.
Express yourself & communicate
Apart from having your own resources, you should also express your emotions to those around you. Emotions need to be shared. Trust others and let them know how you feel and what you need.
To summarize, emotions help us meet our needs and guide us to know how we should act. They’re incredibly valuable since we’re able to survive and communicate ourselves with others. We first feel our emotions and then decide what to do with them, making us responsible for our own actions. Let’s be coherent with our feelings and thoughts so we can express them assertively!
“Control your emotions or they will control you.”