Emotion: Exploring Attitudes and Beliefs 6

EMOTIONS are an essential part of our lives. If you don’t think that’s true, just ask yourself the question: who would want to go through life without joy?  In many cultures however, we are taught to value dispassionate logic over matters of the heart. Science and “objective” forms of thinking are touted as the sure path to knowledge. And someone who is openly emotional is said—with some disdain—to wear his heart on his sleeve. Men, in particular, are taught to suppress emotions as the inferior domain of women, and even women are often told that they are over emotional when they express their feelings. Given this cultural environment, it’s only natural that many of us have learned to deny and suppress our emotions, especially those that are considered negative, such as anger and grief.

The word emotion is based on the Latin word emovere, which essentially means to move (movere) out (e), which implies that, by its very nature, emotion must move through the body and out.

Most theories about emotion acknowledge that emotions are either based on physical responses (i.e. a flood of adrenaline produces fear), or are the cause of physical responses (i.e., fear produces a flood of adrenaline). Whichever theory you hold to be true, one thing is clear: emotions and physical responses and behaviors are closely linked. When we experience strong emotion such as anger, fear, excitement, or elation, chemicals flood our body, our pulse quickens, and we may perspire or tremble. We are filled with the energy of that emotion.

It is also clear that when we suppress our emotions because we think they are unacceptable, and when we do not allow them some form of healthy expression, the energy of those emotions literally becomes bottled up in our bodies, which may cause physical, emotional, and/or psychological health problems later on. So it’s important to learn how to process and express our emotions in ways that improve, rather than threaten our overall health.

Writing (journaling) about our emotions is one healthy — and therapeutic — way of moving emotions through our bodies. Through writing, we can explore the depth and strength of our emotions, their reasons, and find ways to work through and heal them. We can, quite literally, write our way to healing. It also allows us to express in words (privately) what may be difficult to say aloud to someone else. Writing can also help you to explore other perspectives of an incident and achieve a more balanced perspective.

In this series of articles about emotion, we will take a look at specific emotions, how they affect us, and how to write our ways through them. But before before beginning to write about individual emotions, it can be helpful to explore our attitudes and beliefs about emotion, in general.

Take out your notebook, journal, or computer writing program, select one or more of the following prompts, and write for at least ten minutes.

  1. When I cried as a child, I was told …
  2. I believe that emotions should/should not be expressed freely by both men and women, because …
  3. My father used to express his emotions by …
  4. I believe that it is better to not express certain emotions, such as __________________, because …
  5. I express my emotions freely and healthily. I know this to be true because …
  6. If there is one thing I could improve or heal, emotionally speaking, it would be ______________. The thing that has been holding me back from addressing this issue is …

When you have finished writing, assess how you feel (relieved? calm? agitated? curious?) and write a paragraph or two about your present feeling and state of mind.

Finally, share in the discussion by leaving comments about this process of exploring your attitudes and beliefs about emotion. Don’t share your personal journal writing, but share with us how writing about your attitudes affected you. What did you discover, if anything? Did you find any new, related topics to write about?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 thoughts on “Emotion: Exploring Attitudes and Beliefs

  • Pingback: Physical Effects Of Stress On The Systems Of The Body | Fad Diets That work

  • Archer Rae Bryan

    I feel tired, wondering how helpful it is to ask these questions. I tend to be a compulsive “problem solver” this sets up a downward spiral for me. What would be the opposite? To look at and take inventory of what works. To take a look at whats working in my life and the evidence for that.
    I am grateful that I have lots of evidence that I do express my emotions sufficiently to have healthy relationships and a good life.
    I will end on that note of truth:)

  • Heather

    Journaling is incredibly therapeutic and brings up so many things from my subconscious that I didn’t even know was there. Oftentimes, I will just write one sentence about the way I’m feeling, a question on my mind, my reaction to something, etc., and I’ll end up writing page after page of thoughts that just flow. I’ll cry and it will feel good.

    I highly recommend this to everyone!!

  • Michael Tennis Davis

    After writing, I feel calm. I feel like I need to start expressing myself more. I sometimes hold in my emotions thinking that’s the best option. Now I understand the importance of expressing yourself and what can happen if you don’t express yourself. Life is defined by emotions. Knowledge and facts are cool, but it is our emotions that defines the knowledge and facts we possess.