Emotions motivate us to act

What are emotions used for?

We have seen that emotion is a complex reaction to adapt to the pressures and changes in our environment. The emotion fulfills 3 important functions.

1. Emotions help communicate and influence others

Sometimes the main function of an emotion is to send a message and influence the others. Whether we like it or not, our emotions send signals to our environment that directly influence the emotional state of the other.

The facial expressions, our movements, and our posture are directly related to the emotions. In human society as well as in the animal world, non-verbal expressions are often a far stronger and faster means of communication than words. A face that expresses anger, with a clenched jaw, teeth visible, and an angry look clearly shows that a limit has been reached and that this is the end of it. Another example: a hunched posture, a sad face and tears induce comfort.

The more an emotion is used for communication, the more difficult it is to let it fade away as long as one is not heard. This creates problems when the other is unwilling, unable, or unavailable to receive the message sent via the emotion.

2. Emotions organize and motivate actions

Our emotions motivate our behavior and prepare us for action. Our reactions are often linked to specific emotions. Fear prepares for an escape, anger for an attack, the joy of looking for someone with whom we can share our happiness ...

The emotions also allow us to react faster in important situations. They enable us to react before we have taken the time to analyze the situation down to the smallest detail. For example: Your child is about to cross the street without looking and a car comes racing towards them. Your fear urges you to immediately rush forward and prevent your child from crossing the street. If you had thought about the situation consciously and said to yourself, “My child is about to cross the street without looking and a car is coming from the right at around 60 km / h. If I don't do anything, it is very likely that my child will be run over ... ”then the worst would have happened before you had even moved a step.

The stronger the emotion, the more difficult it is not to act. Sometimes we consciously let an emotion become stronger in order to force ourselves to act. For example, some indulge in your anger until it has risen to the point where the fear of doing or saying what you think disappears. Others wait for the last moment to tackle a job, so the stress pushes them to get the job done ...

On the other hand, this impulse to act can also be the basis of impulsive behavior, which you may regret in retrospect: Everyone knows the expression “think first, then act”. Acting on a strong impulse can push you to push yourself beyond your limits, which is sometimes difficult to make up for.

3. Emotions provide important information about current needs

Your emotional reactions to others and to events give you information about the situations you are living in. In this regard, emotions can be viewed as warning signs that something significant is happening.

Someone who is very active feels sad when they are not active. If he listens to this sadness and tries to understand what it means, then he can become aware that it means a deficiency on the emotional level: all of his activities have removed him from his friends and taken away the intimate moments he is in his level of feeling needed. Another example: someone experiences anger in a relationship: this may mean that they don't feel respected, that the relationship is not balanced, or that there is injustice.

If the emotions are pushed to the limit, the associated thoughts and feelings can be seen as facts. “If I feel incompetent, then so am I”, “If I have the feeling that something is fair, then it is fair too”, “I love him, so he is perfect”. For example, someone who is notoriously afraid of being abandoned may experience great fear as soon as the partner shows unusual behavior. This fear can lead the person to think that their partner no longer loves them ... and the greater the fear, the more likely it is that the thought is a reality.

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