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What are emotions & why focus on emotions?

Our emotions are our most important signaling system.

Emotions are important for many many reasons. One they're a part of the experience we have inside of ourselves that lets us know what has meaning in life. Another is that emotions give us a sense of vitality, of passion, of the energy of life. If we're not aware of our emotions we actually can lose vitality, and if we're not aware of our emotions we may not know what has meaning in our life.

Sharing emotions with another person is important because when we do that we actually feel closer, we feel more connected, and we can feel more understood, and when we tune into the emotions of someone else we can deeply connect with them too. So emotions are really the essence of a fundamental part of our life... (Dr. Dan Siegel)

Emotions are complex processes in the body and mind. The different components of the emotions are feelings, physical reaction and cognitive processes.

Our emotions matter because they draw our attention to things that are important to us.

They inform us about how we are doing with ourselves and the people around us. All feelings are directly related to our needs. Feelings are a reaction of the brain and body to the fact that something important has happened. In doing so, the emotions indicate that we need to deal with what happened because one or more of our needs are affected.

When our emotional system thinks something important has happened, it sends out alarm signals. These signals usually contain a physical sensation, an impulse to act and a personal meaning. Physical sensations might include a lump in the stomach, discomfort, a tightness in the chest, a feeling of warmth, energy, or strength. Our impulse to act could be to approach others or to keep our distance. Our interpretation of the situation could be: "This is dangerous!".

For example, when you lose someone very close to you, you become sad and feel heartache. Physically you have a feeling of heaviness and a lump in your stomach or throat. You may feel like crying. You know how much that person meant to you and that you still want that person to be with you. The feeling of sadness is telling you that you can no longer meet that need. Grief may prompt you to reach out to other people for comfort, care, and support.

All of our emotions are connected to needs in this way. The underlying need behind fear is security, behind shame acceptance and validation, behind anger setting boundaries, and behind sadness comfort.

Consequently, the next time you have a feeling, you might ask yourself:

What is this feeling telling me about what I need?

If you want to learn more about it, we can recommend the film - Alfred & Shadow (above)

If you like to know more about how Emotions are made check out Lisa Feldman's articles.

Enjoy. Any questions please get in touch.

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