Why you might dislike having emotions.

Let me start by explaining my (and others) take on what emotions are. I will then address why you may dislike having them. By the way, academic writers will distinguish between emotions and feelings but, in every day use, they are the same.

There are 6 primary emotions that we, as humans, and some subhumans are born with. You can see these emotions develop over time in your kids.

The six primary emotions are mad, sad, glad, fear, disgust and surprise. Some of these emotions appear at birth and some develop a little later. Many of the more common feelings with which you may be familiar can be thought of as a combination of these primary feelings.

With the exception of glad and surprise, all of the primary emotions are primitive threat detectors which have existed since we lived in caves and which were “designed” by evolution to keep us alive so we could procreate and survive as a species. Early man did not have sharp claws or teeth to protect him. He did have his emotional threat detectors.

Here is how the emotional process works….

You constantly (and subconsciously) scan your surroundings for threats. When you perceive a threat, a fast track message goes to your Amygdala in your brain and then to the Thalamus. This elicits fight or flight and prepares your body to react to the threat. At the same time, a slower message goes to the cerebral cortex or thinking part of your brain. The cerebral cortex allows you to assess the nature of the the threat and choose how you want to respond.

Two emotional myths are that there are negative emotions and that your emotions control you. These two myths (there are others) are the reason you may dislike having emotions. I address 5 emotional myths in my book Emotions as Tools: A Self Help Guide to Controlling Your Life not Your Feelings. You can download the first two chapters of my  book without an opt-in by scrolling up to the “welcome” post.

Some emotions are labelled as negative because:

  • they do not feel good when you have them (a negative hedonic quality)
  • you may be negatively labelled by others when you express them, or
  • you may do things you later regret when you experience the feeling.

Feeling disgusted is not pleasurable and feeling anxious or vulnerable may be equated with powerlessness (also not pleasurable).

If you are a woman, you may be labelled a “bitch” or “hormonal” when you express anger.

When you are angry, you may do dumb things.

The emotion is wrongly blamed for the “negative” sensations, the misogynist labels,  and the “negative” acting out.

In fact, there are no negative feelings in the sense that we would not want to eliminate any of them. We may turn off the smoke detector that blares when we burn toast or has a weak battery. This is not a good decision.

All feelings are adaptive and the behavior you exhibit is based on the choices you make in response to the emotion. The feeling may start the process but you are always responsible for the decisions you make and the behavior you exhibit.

So, you may dislike a feeling that is hedonically negative, elicits results you do not want or that appears to cause negative behavior.

Once you realize that all feelings are tools which give you information you can use to improve your life and your relationships, the hedonic quality of the emotion becomes secondary and unimportant. And, once your realize that your emotions do not control you and that you can use your emotions as tools and choose your response, you will welcome your feelings in the same way you “welcome” the little light on your dashboard that tells you that you need to service your car. You may say, “Oh, crap, I don’t want to service the car now (because you are out of town or don’t have the money)” but you ignore the warning at your own peril.

If anger is the emotion that you “dislike”, I recommend you xcroll  up and download the first two chapters of my Amazon bestseller book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool. You can buy the book on Amazon.

As always, thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.

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