What Do Emotions Do For Us?

Emotions may feel irritating and annoying and quite frankly troublesome but they do serve a purpose for us. Emotions motivate our behaviour and organise us for action and the action urge of a specific emotion is often hard-wired in biology, for example the fight or flight response which has evolutionary value. Emotions can save time and get us to act lightening fast in some situations, for example when crossing the road and accidentally stepping out in front of a car and reacting quickly so that we do not get knocked down. Emotions are specifically important when we do not have time to think things through. Strong emotions can actually be helpful because they can help us overcome the obstacles that are in both our minds and our environments.

Emotions are helpful in terms of our communication with other people. Facial expressions can often communicate our emotions faster than words and whether you like it or not our body language and tone of voice often communicate our emotions to others. When it is very important to communicate with others it can be very hard to change our emotions, for example if we are very excited by something or very saddened by something. The communication of our emotion influences others and their behaviours.

Emotions also communicate things to ourselves. Emotional reactions give us important information about situations, they can be signals or alarms that something is happening and gut feelings can be like intuition which can be helpful if our emotions get us to check the facts of an important situation.

Sometimes we treat our emotions like they are facts about the world and often the stronger the emotions, the stronger our belief that this emotion is based on fact but this is not true. A feeling is just that, a feeling.

Research shows that all primary emotions cause a common reaction in all humans and in some ways all human beings are the same in the way they both feel and express basic emotion but it is also important to remember that every person is unique. One person may feel anger in a certain part of their body but another person may feel the tension somewhere else. Wherever you feel the tension and how you express this tension is unique to you.

Urges go hand in hand with emotion. Emotions may give someone the urge to run away and another the urge to fight and argue but we must remember that we do not have to act on these urges, sometimes acting on an urge can be helpful but many people who struggle with eating disorders or self harm will often find that they struggle with unhelpful and destructive urges,

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