1. Dealing with emotions
Emotion, in its most general definition, is an intense mental state that arises automatically in the nervous system rather than through conscious effort, and evokes either a positive or negative psychological response. Walker says we should, “think of emotions as feelings that are experienced” (2013, p.153). Although a common word, it is not easy to come up with a very general acceptable definition of emotion. Maybe that is because one person can experience the same emotion or feeling as someone else, but feel something entirely different.
There are distinct characteristics which define emotions in terms of four fundamental attributes:
A. physiological or internal changes
B. behavioral expressions
C. Cognitive interpretation
D. motivational tendencies.
According to Walker, “When our emotions are aroused, there are physiological changes over which we have no control” (2013, p.153). Sometimes when I am scared at night, my heart starts to race very rapidly. Sometimes my breathing gets fast and shallow. These would be perfect examples of physiological changes that I have no control over. My body goes into the “fight or flight” mode and it usually takes me quite a while to calm down. This often leads to the behavioral expression of emotions. Being so scared can cause me to sweat and if I get up to go look around, my legs even tremble sometimes. The textbook states the following about cognitive interpretation,” … our thoughts, beliefs, and prior experiences will color the way we view an event and, thus, profoundly influence our emotional reaction to that event” (Walker, 2013, p.154). I find this to be especially true when it comes to my fears at night. I did not react so strongly to my fears at night until after my car and home were burglarized a few years ago. Going through that experience really changed the way I feel at night when I am alone. According to the Walker, “We all experience the emotion of fear. It is important to distinguish fear from anxiety. A specific situation or object elicits fear, whereas anxiety is objectless. Therefore we speak of fear when we think we know what we’re afraid of and anxiety when we’re unsure” (2013, p.157). The textbook offers a list of steps you can take to face your fears and anxieties. They are as follows:
1. Admit your fears – make sure you do not avoid your fears and anxieties.
2. Take risks – try new things in order to face your fears.
3. Acknowledge the positive – give credit for the good things about yourself.
4. Avoid catastrophic thinking – face the worst possible scenario in your mind so you’re more prepared to face it if it comes.
5. Stay in the present – stay focused in the here and now.
6. Have patience – slow down, take your time.
I try to follow steps such as these on a daily basis in order to face my own fears and anxieties. Some days are better than others but I do find these steps to be helpful when I am starting to get really stressed out and scared.