Emotions guide our lives in a million ways. Whether we’re inclined to hide and avoid or ponder and express them, most of us don’t realize the intent to which they are driving our thoughts and behavior.
Exploring our emotions is a worthy endeavor for everyone hoping to know and develop themselves, build healthy relationships m and pursue what they want in life. Emotional intelligence is more important the IQ, showing it “predicts over 54% of the variation in success.” In relationships, health, and good quality of life.
Our emotions can offer us clues into who we are as well as how we’ve been affected by our history. Many of our actions are initiated by emotion, which lead to the national question of which emotions are being surfaced and why. Which of these emotions are adapted and maladaptive? Which may be triggered by the present but rooted in our past?
Have you heard it said we need to live in harmony with our feelings and not attempt to control them. Much of that harmony with our feelings come from understanding our emotional reactions and distinguishing when our emotions are primary or secondary in nature as well as when they are adaptive or not.
Primary emotions are our first reaction. They’re often followed by a more defended secondary emotion,the anger that covers up feelings hurt, the embarrassment overpowering our sadness, or the anxiety masking a deeper far. For example, if our partner doesn’t show up for us let’s you down in some way, we may feel enraged. We may stonewall them or erupt in our next interaction with him or her. However, if we look at our initial reaction our primary emotion, we may recognize that we had more vulnerable feelings, such as feeling hurt, unwanted and ashamed.
If we imagine a moment of feeling tense, frustrated or stuck in a bad feeling, driven to react without a sense of relief , we were probably caught in a secondary emotion. However, if we were able to access the deepest, more vulnerable feeling, perhaps await or a need, or a core feeling of sadness or shame, we were then experiencing a primary emotion. Initially we may have noticed the feeling building, but then easing. Like a wave. When we allow ourselves to feel a primary emotion, we often experience relief. We are not necessarily inclined to act. Instead we feel more in touch with ourselves softened yet more alive.
Primary emotions can either be adaptive to the moment or maladaptive reactions based from our past. Maladaptive primary emotions may have sparked by current events, but they’re tied to a way we felt early in our lives. For example, if we were seen or treated like we were unintelligent or incapable in our family, being called “stupid” or related to as if were incompetent in the current day can trigger us to feel deeply pained or ashamed. However, before we can acknowledge this pain or shame, we’re swept up in a secondary emotion like anger, resentment, or defensiveness.
At this time, we may experience what is called a critical inner voice, a negative internal commentary that tells us thing like, “you made such a fool of yourself. Look at how they’re looking at you. They all think your an idiot. You should just get out of here.” This destructive inner couch often gets loader when we feel triggered emotionally.
These critical thoughts can drive us to feel a range of emotions that are painful and maladaptive, which contribute to salt-defeating behavior, like holding ourselves back, turning to psychological defenses, or pushing away loved ones. The maladaptive secondary emotions can also lead us to react in ways that are not in ours best interest, lashing out to defend ourselves, acting resentful or enraged, driven by thoughts like, “How dare they treat you that way. That was so disrespectful, Who do they think they are talking to you like that?
Our maladaptive emotions are based our past. Although, they are not an accurate reflection of who we really are, when we fail to identify these emotions, we may feel stuck living in the shadows. The ironic comfort of their familiarity can even cause us to distort ourselves and others or provoke reactions and scenarios that recreate the emotional climate to which we’re accustomed. We may relate to others based on these old feelings rather than what’s really going on or what’s really going on or what we really want.
There is a way we can transform our emotions to be become adaptive. Maladaptive emotions often leave us feeling stuck, as if they’re unresolvable, but if we can get to the underlying emotion in our past, we can feel the feelings, gain insight into the need underlying the emotion, and take actions to get the need met. We can ask this by asking our partner or someone close to us to meet our need or, If necessary, by soothing ourselves. We can take our side by challenging our critical self-attracts and offering ourselves compassion and love. We can be more willing to feel our sadness, anger, or the deeper primary emotions that make us feel more connected to ourselves. We can feel out feelings rather than suppressing them and allowing them to silently dictate our lives.
When we live in harmony with our emotions, we become more in touch with who we are. We gain insight into the real core emotions that are causing our reactions. And we can be the one at the wheel, choosing our actions. Feeling as an adaptive mechanism to give us critical information. By focusing on the emotion with compassion and curiosity, we can discover who we are and what we want.￼