Emotions are a complex interplay of thoughts, feelings, and bodily movements. Most emotions are conscious feelings which arise from the perception of environmental triggers. The mind is stimulated by a trigger. It then checks in memory to establish our usual interpretation of that trigger. This generates a perception which creates the emotion and may result in a behavior or action.
Emotions carry huge power to affect the chemistry and electricity of every cell in your body. Candace Pert author of Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine
tells us that the body's electrical state is modulated by emotions, changing the world within the body.
There are three key points to remember about emotions:
1. Emotions are only thoughts that result from perceptions. They are mental evaluations or interpretations of a trigger. If you can recognize the emotion for what it is and try to see the trigger coming then you can respond appropriately to it. (In a few cases emotions may arise directly from physiological changes).
2. Essentially emotions are formed and controlled by the nonconscious mind. They only emerge into your conscious awareness after the automatic reactions to perceptions and memories have already been processed in the nonconscious. You experience the emotion (physically and mentally) up to half a second after the nonconscious has generated it. Indeed you may have nonconscious emotions all the time that never even enter your conscious awareness.
Examples of this are when you have an automatic response to a person or event such as liking or disliking something and not knowing why. These are simple and very quick reactions made by the nonconscious in milliseconds and can disappear equally rapidly. More than 95% of all your mental activity is nonconscious. Despite its enormous processing power the nonconscious is highly susceptible to social and environmental conditioning.
3. Emotions are heavily influenced by environmental conditioning. The mind stores a vast array of data about your previous experiences in your long-term memory. As soon as you think a thought or encounter a situation it instantly goes to that database to discover how you reacted to similar situations in the past, and this will significantly determine the choices it presents for how you should react now.
The data stored in memory could have come from anywhere: other people, what you read, what you see on TV, and even stuff that you may have never focused on but heard or saw in passing. This comparative information allows you to respond to situations quickly and effectively.
The problem is that the nonconscious part of the mind is literal, it has no capacity for analysis or reasoning (that’s what the conscious mind does). What it hears and sees it records regardless of how accurate, true or representative it is of your values and beliefs. That’s why you may find it a challenge to control your emotions—they seem to arise from “nowhere” and don’t always seem to represent the person you wish to personify.
Tools and techniques for effective emotional management are an important part of the