To master emotions, you must...
How emotions came about...
Feelings and motivations
The source of all emotions
All of the emotions have a good purpose
So, let's stop it at the core!
Once the emotions get rolling...
Learning the perspective and what to do
What to do next
To master emotions, you must first know and understand:
1. They are strictly chemicals, used by the mind/body to protect its survival
2. We are not "stimulus-response" animals. Circumstances are not the cause of our emotions. Instead the model is:
A --> B --> C
(Activating event) (Belief/thought) (Consequence)
Neutral (which is) Perceived, interpreted, (which causes) Emotions
happening pattern (belief) is matched
TO MASTER EMOTIONS, YOU MUST:
1. Understand them (and why they came about) - Essential to not being
reactive to the minor signals and to managing the majors.
2. Manage that which creates the emotion and that which exacerbates it,
using tools. (Setting it up ahead of time to not be inappropriately reactive,
defusing many totally, immediately being able to recognize and drop the
negative feeling ones.)
HOW EMOTIONS CAME ABOUT
E = Outward. Motion = Action/move/remove (to agitate, to excite)
Motivation = Something to get one in action to do something about it.
Evolution: Mutations of genes that served to have us survive better, survived to go to our future generations. We are the lucky beneficiaries of this perfecting and weeding out (the genes that didn't work so well for survival were passed on less and some became extinct).
Each emotion caused us to feel discomfort or comfort, so that we would act upon them. While some of the emotions may not be at the conscious level, they are happening all the time in response to situations perceived as "not good for survival" - they all occur physically (through the synapses and pathways from the brain to and from different parts of the body).
The definition of emotion has changed from the original, which was: Disturbance; Excitement.
FEELINGS AND MOTIVATIONS
It has now gone into the mysterious realm called "feelings". But these feelings are all either "good" feelings, so we are motivated to go toward them, or "bad" feelings, so we are motivated to go away from or get rid of them.
That's all "motivation" is. Quell the disturbance (uncomfortable chemicals) or go get the excitement/feeling-good (the feel good chemicals). The latin root of the word is "to move" or "to displace, remove" (if it is "bad").
This motivation to run away from tigers, to avoid upset stomachs from bad food, to mate, etc. all helped us survive in the caveman days.
THE SOURCE OF ALL EMOTIONS
All of the emotions occur from some thought, some evaluation somewhere in the body, including in the mind (which, you'll note, is in the body and connected to all parts via physical chemical and electrical parts).
Before the modifications added by cultural usage, the definition of "feeling" was simply: "physical sensation". When we have a "feeling" we are simply having a physical sensation. At the basic level, we simply "sense"" a touch, a taste, a sight. And we also sense a "chemical" in our body if it is sufficiently intense to warrant our attention (to become aware of) - and we interpret a chemical as uncomfortable or comfortable (pleasurable or peaceful). We then add meaning to them to distinguish them as "bad" or "good". We've discussed elsewhere what that motivates us to do. But the point I want to make here is that it is "just a chemical" and a signal into action. A Buddhist would know that and not add meaning to it, as adding meaning of negative nature is what is the source of the suffering we unnecessarily create for ourselves. The situation or potential situation is evaluated as "potentially harmful" or "potentially beneficial" then a signal is sent to the areas of the body that create chemicals to get one moving toward what is desired (or away from what is uncomfortable). (Read THE PHYSICS OF THE MIND to see more about how this works! Also you will get additional understanding and clarity from seeing the movie "What The Bleep Do We Know?".)
Getting rid of uncomfortability or going toward comfortability is all that emotions are all about.
Of course, we like the good feeling ones and dislike the bad feeling ones. And then we create an added game that tells us how terrible it is to feel the bad feelings, so we in turn feel bad about that - that is called suffering, where we add discomfort needlessly and harmfully; the first is called "pain" in its various levels. Learn about this in more depth by reading the suffering section.
However, if we are smart we can regulate ahead of time those things that cause the bad emotions (and we can also do something after the fact to lessen them), so that the discomfort (which we often call pain, figuratively) can be lessened.
We also can choose, once we know what works, those things that elicit the good feelings - and choose one of the skills there is to
1. Avoid those good feelings we sometimes go for, but which end up making
us feel bad and
2. Add more of the long term good feelings.
(Note that immaturity is characterized by seeking the short term good feelings that result in harmful consequences. Immaturity is just a lack of knowledge and awareness, so we seek to inform even those adults who can't tell the difference or can't get themselves to act appropriately to what works in the long run for the greatest happiness. Learning overall on the subject and specifically about alternative behaviors that work better is relatively easy to accomplish - and it pays off big time!)
Together, they are part of the art of Happiness (in that section we identify what those things are that don't work and what do work much better, so you can shift what you do!).
In the caveman days, there often was no time to think, as one had to act immediately. And there were fewer and much more simple stimuli. Now we have many more potential stimuli to intercept AND we must learn to evaluate them in the context of our lives (where we are unlikely to be eaten by tigers, die from whatever, etc.). We use thinking and education to have you make much, much better decisions about inputs that are harmful.
There are so many stimuli that we must manage them or just end up a bundle of nerves or unhappiness.
ALL OF THE EMOTIONS HAVE A GOOD PURPOSE: BETTER SURVIVAL
It is just that we must avoid having the emotions when they are from a misinterpretation of a threat or other cause, since they cause the body to react (pump adrenaline, cut off digestion, speed up breathing, etc.), after preparing itself to act by emitting chemicals to cause that and prepping the body for that action (blood to the large muscles for fighting or fleeing, etc.). If we experience too many "slams" to the body/mind, the body starts malfunctioning and then we suffer more. See Threats And Fear, to understand what is real and what is not.
SO LET'S STOP IT AT THE CORE!
To do that, we have to
1. Know what causes what and do less of the bad stuff and more of the good stuff, such as in the Happiness section. 2. Change our evaluation system so that it distinguishes what to be disturbed about and not be disturbed about. (E.g., rejection, possible negative future scenarios, etc.) A basis for this is forming a strong Philosophy Of Life.
3. Install the new evaluation system so it is effective (e.g. learn rules, principles, memorizing affirmations that follow them, etc.)
4. Rewire the physical system so that it is less reactive (scientifically proven to change the brain and the automatic response level)
5. Calm the system if it is triggered
Those are the steps we will take in each of the emotions, especially fear, anxiety, and worry. We'll handle shame and guilt, regret and remorse, which are all overly used and misused emotions responsible for much unnecessary unhappiness and suffering. Even grief is overly done. Depression is the least useful and most misused of them all, for it is completely unnecessary if we alter the above (depression is a dampening of all systems to shut down the "extremely" bad feelings).
Be clear, please, as mentioned numerous times, it is always a thought that creates an emotion, so it is the base cause (and not the circumstances or a person).
ONCE THE EMOTION GETS ROLLING...
Note that it is difficult to stop an emotion once the fire is fully burning.
But many individuals do have methods that work in the short term but not in the long run. It is often "irresistible" to eat food for comfort when feeling anxiety or feeling bad in some way - it will relieve that feeling - so it "works", but not in the long run.
But if one decides ahead of time what to do instead of eat and makes a commitment to it, avoiding overeating (and staying slim and fit) is eminently doable - and not so damned hard as the unknowledgeable [or "excuse makers"] would have you believe. And if we keep our blood sugar constant (and our body strong to help regulate it) then our need to relieve the discomfort of low blood sugar by eating will be lessened in intensity and frequency.
In Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence, he points out that those who learned "impulse control" by the sixth grade benefit considerably by a systematic learning process. Now, if you're older than that, you'd better
learn impulse control now!
LEARNING THE PERSPECTIVE AND WHAT TO DO
In the various parts of the Emotion Management section, we have you learn what works, how to work it, and the application of it all, so that you are thinking more straightly (evaluating things appropriately and therefore not experiencing, or adding to, bad emotions except where discomfort is, in fact, appropriate to the situation) and not feeling endangered - AND make sure you are confident that you can handle the inevitable "bad" outcomes (hopefully few) that do happen - and still be happy!
Ironically, once you learn the latter, you will reduce much of the suffering you bring upon yourself from experiencing the worry about future bad outcomes and feeling you won't handle them well.
You might reread that sentence, as it is the key concept behind eliminating many of the fears/anxieties and worries that we experience - remove those negatives and your happiness level will rise geometrically! (Read the section on those and note particularly, though you may not yet see how to do it, how you can be virtually Fearless.)
WHAT TO DO NEXT
You'll want to at least "survey" (read key pieces in) each section linked herein.
Reading about the specific emotions will provide relevant coping mechanisms and elimination methods, from affirmations to actually creating a new understanding of what works and what you can really believe in... that works!
Review these for an overall perspective and specific items to use:
Reviewing the specific emotions can give you impetus to change, but it is also useful for you to come back to the learning materials: (You may want to just read the key pieces and then come back to study and build from these sections. The idea is to have your life working wonderfull, which I think is immensely worth the effort!)