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  • Writer's picturefrederique STREF

From behaviour to initial emotions

We all engage in behaviors from time to time that we know are "bad" for us, whether it's smoking, eating unhealthy foods, not getting enough exercise or even spending too much time on social media. Regardless of the extent of our addictions and bad habits, they all involve some degree of self-sabotage and self-destruction. We all know the feelings of shame and guilt that come with engaging in a behavior that we know is "bad" for us, but we give in to it over and over again because it feels good in the moment.

People who struggle with self-destructive habits tend to feel emotions more strongly than others. Because of this susceptibility, they engage in activities and behaviors that numb them emotionally - but their addiction to these habits can leave them feeling hopeless and out of control.

Emotions are probably even more difficult to define than personality. It is commonly accepted that they incorporate subjective experience that is affective (emotional). These subjective experiences also have underlying physiological, cognitive and environmental factors. Our understanding of what we feel is, in part, socially defined, as each affective state, such as love, fear, anger, grief, etc., is generally defined by consensus.

However, everyone has their own emotional world. Of course, there are great differences since some people are aware of their emotions, feel them, live them and express them, and others are unable to accept them, and/or express their emotions and feelings.

Emotions are a response to the stimuli that provoke them. These stimuli can be external or take the form of memories or images. The trigger may seem obvious, yet emotional responses are triggered automatically with little awareness.

Emotions are experienced in several ways: affectively, which refers to the felt rather than the thought aspect. Physiologically, in the body's response such as sweating, shaking, dry mouth, increased heart rate. Cognitively, in the reaction of feelings to personal beliefs and value systems, past experiences and prior knowledge. Behaviourally, through outward expression such as laughter or aggression.

Most people who come to the sessions do so because they are experiencing difficulties or disturbances in their emotions, the intensity of which is also important. The stronger the emotion, the stronger its influence on motivation. Too much or too little emotional intensity can cause problems. Emotions are also related to survival and our psychological health. It is important that we pay attention to them. They tell us what is going on inside us in terms of our values and our deepest needs. People who ignore their emotions can therefore ignore important aspects of themselves, which can lead to discontent, feelings of oppression and alienation. Repression of emotions is detrimental to mental and physical health. Chronic states of high emotional arousal that are not expressed can lead to physiological damage. The repression of memories that arouse strong emotions can have a "boomerang effect": the repressed emotions enter consciousness with even greater force.

Since the mind, body, and behavior are all active ingredients of emotions, sometimes asking questions such as "how do you feel?" will not allow the person to express themselves. The different components of emotions should not be confused with the emotions themselves. What is important is how they relate to each other, how they are so singularly named and relate to subjective experience.

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