What Are Emotions

Emotions are made of a few different components first off they are made up of thoughts and meanings in the form of "talking to self, pictures, movies" in your mind and then the second component is feelings. Feelings are physical sensations in the body and all emotions have a corresponding feeling in the body which we can elicit. For example anxious people will tend to manifest the feelings of anxiety in there stomachs! i.e. "butterflies in stomach". It also can manifest in other parts of the body as tension like in the legs, chest, heart so the muscles are overly tight.

So do babies have emotions? Well no babies only have feelings or physical sensations because they do not have language, and language is required to have emotions. You also require a certain level of consciousness or ability to think. These feelings or physical sensations take the form of warm, cold, soft hard, different tastes, and all other types of physical sensations, this will then also trigger feelings in the body of the baby. We would normally identify them as emotions, but babies don't have language to do this so we call them feelings. 

Yin Yang Symbol Yellow and Black on Yellow Background

How do we acquire emotions? Well can you imagine as a baby you may slowly accumulate different types of experiences, and you may sort of group them into sections like all uncomfortable, bad, pain, happy, fun etc, and of course the baby is not using the words its like a grouping of similar feelings together. Now lets say one day mum is feeding the baby ice-ream and saying Yum, Good over and over, then a light goes off in the babies mind and they get the word means that this taste and feeling means yum and good. They may also go through their memory and find all other feelings that are similar and label them with the words as well. So they now have the beginnings of emotions. Then as they get older this continues and they form more complex associations that become emotions as we know them, and they begin to layer them, combine them in many different ways to get very complex emotions and feelings as we associate with adults.

The next thing you need to understand about emotions is that they are self reflexive, for example you may think of a memory from the past and feel sad, then you may feel guilty about feeling sad, then feel angry about feeling guilty, then anxious about being angry, then resentful about being anxious etc, this can go on and on for ever. This is what it means to be self reflexive about our emotions.

We also can feel may different things about events etc, many of the clients here at Synergy Hypnotherapy Melbourne I see will come for anxiety or depression only, and after a little enquiry I find they have a host of feelings like anxiety, hopelessness, depression, anger, fear, guilt etc. I have never come across anyone who has only one emotion about an event or problem. I ask a few different questions to get what is going on for my clients and lets look at one, "How do you feel about the past I will get the following combination of answers, Sad, angry, guilty, shame, out of control. This is only one example I usually get many different combinations the variations that are huge. I also get positive emotions as well, however due to my job and the reason for people coming to see me it is usually the negative emotions that are the problem.

Meaning and understanding is a key component of emotions and people associate very different meaning to emotion from each other, and the behaviours that may manifest from these emotions and meanings. Lets take depressed people, they may make this mean, Im tied, disease, fear, anger, helpless, life is bad, Im not good enough. I could go on and another person may make depression mean, it happens sometimes, goes quickly, part of life, happens to other people etc. We can make it mean so many different things, and everyone has many different meanings or beliefs around the emotions that they experience.

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