So the siblings reference in the title is a bit of a play as this is a sister post to this one by Sukh Pabial. Most people that know me know I am exceptionally interested in the two things that are mentioned in that post ’emotion’ and ‘life’ and so when I saw it I decided to write this post. I also agree with Sukh (with my small addition in Underline), ‘understanding our emotion(s) how they’re triggered & happen in ourselves and others is quite possibly the greatest challenge ahead of us’.
In his post Sukh raises some questions about how it can be that emotion that served us so well as a species to evolve from homosapiens and cavemen to where we are today can still apply now. My take on it, because the purpose of the emotion still remains, it is what triggers it or calls it forth is different. When researching emotion and it’s universality, Paul Ekman found themes in certain features, triggers and functions of emotion. For example, what he found was that certain (what he calls here basic) emotions have distinct features from each other and that emotions themslseves
One of the characteristics that Paul discusses is that emotions are only triggered by something that we deem as important to our welfare. Therefore, it may be something happens to us as an individual, to someone close to us or even to a thing or item we have. Think about when something of yours is taken, damaged or broken, it will trigger an emotion. If we link back to Sukh’s point (relevance today) then the only thing different is the person or thing.
Let me try and articulate that:
When a caveman perceived a threat of harm to his welfare from a predator that could injure him and stop him from providing food & shelter, the emotion of fear would trigger.
Today, if I perceived a threat of harm to my welfare from my boss who says he could sack me and therefore stop me from providing food and shelter, the emotion of fear would trigger.
Same function (identify & protect from threats), different triggers and both important to welfare.
I would argue that the themes (e.g. threat of harm for fear) are still just as vital to our survival today. What may be more up for debate, is the appropriateness of our responses or maybe more accurately reactions to the triggers.
Much has been written on Emotional Intelligence and one of my biggest issues (which Sukh talked on too) is this idea of self-awareness. Let me be clear, I think self-awareness is absolutely vital, critically so. What I also believe is:
Awareness of experiencing emotion(s) = good
See above + then identifying what triggered it (or them), how long they lasted, how intense it (or they) were and when it (or they) passed = loads better
See above + working out how all that interacts with others and what may be going on for them = seriously powerful stuff
What we forget (I do wonder if this is (un)conscious) is that wrapped up in emotion(s) is the fact that things are constantly changing, evolving, redefining themselves. That includes us as people as we play with things like:
How we perceive reality
Deception (often of self)
What has happened before this trigger
When this trigger has happened before
To name a few.
This world of emotion(s) is so much bigger that we think it is. To this day my most post post I’ve written is ‘emotion; the antithesis of soft and fluffy‘ as emotions are able to wield power over life and death, if we let them.
Thanks Sukh for inspiring this post.