If you ask people what feelings, or emotions, are, they probably will have difficulty answering your question. The reason for this is that, while we all have feelings, we do not receive much information or training about what feelings are, why we have them, or how to strategically use them.
To start this conversation, let me point out the words “feeling” and “emotion” are basically the same and can be used interchangeably.
That being said, the best way to think of your feelings is to view them as tools. While you may not realize it, you are surrounded by tools. The tweezers or needle you used to remove a splinter are both tools. Your car is a tool as are the computer you may be using to read this post or your cell phone, or your TV remote.
A tool is something that has a specific function (or multiple functions) and can be used to perform a task. The nice thing about tools is that you can learn how to use them by getting some help, reading a manual, or just using it and learning by trial and error, although this may result in wasting a lot of time, getting hurt by misusing the tool, or getting frustrated.
While you have many emotions, there are 6 primary emotions that humans have had since we lived in caves and which helped us survive as a species. The 6 primary emotions are: mad (anger), sad, glad (happy), fear, disgust, and surprise. With the exception of glad and surprise, all the primary emotions are primitive threat detectors and work just like your smoke detector to alert you to a perceived threat and prepare you to deal with that threat.
In my next post, I will discuss how the emotional process works.
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