Discover how your interpretations of emotions influence your response.

Discover how your interpretations of emotions influence your response.
What are emotions? 

Emotions are strong feelings that can trigger physiological responses in the brain-body. 
They serve an important role in our lives and help us make sense of and assess our environment and relationships and make choices that are congruent with our values. 

Many of us have a difficult time connecting to or identifying the emotion that drives our behavior. There are several reasons for this difficulty. 
We are often conditioned in ways that causes us to invalidate our own feelings. We are often fearful of being authentic with our emotions or made to feel guilty when our emotions or desires are inconvenient to others. We are often conditioned and discouraged from feeling or expressing big or uncomfortable emotions. 

But learning to interpret the interoceptive experiences (Feelings) that tell us we feel some kind of a way or another, is leveling up our human experience. When we understand what emotions are, why they are important, we can learn to harness their energy to improve our life. This is called emotional intelligence. 

There are three components to the emotional landscape.

1. Subjective Interpretation - This is a unique, internal experience of an emotion. We all have many of the same feelings, but we can each experience them differently. These experiences vary from person to person and impact us greatly. 

2. Physiological Experience - The second component is the measurable physiological indicators, hear rate, sweating, blushing, adrenaline and cortisol rushes and so on.  When we experience a strong feeling, like anger, for example, it causes measurable physiological changes. 

3. Expression or Behavior _ Finally, we have the outward expression of feelings. These include body language, facial expression, rapid breathing, tone and volume of voice, etc. 

Emotions provide the mind-body with important information. Often a strong emotion is triggered when we feel our boundaries have been pushed, we feel unsafe, or something in our environment is incongruent with our values. 

According to bestselling author and psychologist, Dr.  Daniel Goleman, there are 5 aspects of emotional intelligence. 

1. Practicing self awareness
2. Managing our emotions in a healthy way
3. Accessing motivation and inner strength
4. Experiencing Empathy- understanding what others are feeling
5. Navigating Relationships and Building trust. 

If you want to re-gain control over your own emotional state, there are a few key steps to consider. 

1. Notice the feeling you are experiencing - this is an emotional state.
2. Appropriately Identify the emotion
3. Understand what to expect from the emotion
4. Know how to influence the emotional state. 

You see, there are actually two parts of an emotion to consider.
1. The State or the physiological feelings you experience
2. The emotion or the psychological interpretation or how we label and interpret this emotional experience. 

Emotions are complex and consist of chemical and hormone interactions that cause a variety of internal experiences. 

Thoughts create emotions, it is our interpretation of the experience that determines how we will react. 

Let's break this down a little bit more. 

We experience internal responses in relation to the environment. 
Let's say we are getting ready to give a public presentation and we feel nervous.
We might have sweaty skin, butterflies in the stomach and maybe even a scratchy throat or heart flutter.
The next step is our interpretation of those sensations.
If we interpret this in a way that convinces us we will fail, or we aren't good enough, smart enough or talented enough to give the presentation, it is the interpretation of the butterflies in the stomach and racing heart that causes us to "Feel" a certain way. 

On the other hand, by understanding that we can experience these internal sensations without latching on to our faulty interpretations.

I feel butterflies in my stomach.
I am sweating and my heart is racing.
These are facts. 
But, our interpretation of these facts is what determines the psychological feeling and response. 

If our interpretation of the racing heart and butterflies that make the difference.

If we respond to them as simply states of physiology without attaching a meaning to it, we can move through it.

I feel butterflies and all the things I usually experience when I am nervous. 
But I am well prepared, this is my field of expertise, and I can do this presentation in my sleep. 
I don't have to let these internal sensations influence me negatively.
Sure, they are not comfortable feelings, but I get them every time I prepare for a presentation. 
Once I get started and my nerves calm down, I am in the zone and perform better than expected.

See the difference?

What do you think? Do you think your interpretations of your internal sensations influence your feelings and subsequent behaviors?
Do you see how the brain responds to our interpretation of events?