What are the functions of emotion? Emotions help us survive by providing an efficient, automatic way of responding rapidly to a situation. For example, when we feel afraid, it signals that there are possible danger or uncertainty.
Emotions help us to relate to other people too. They help us communicate what we feel. For example, when we are sad, we become quiet and sullen, and others can notice the change and then respond to us.
Psychology researchers have named several basic emotions such as shame, fear, sadness, anger, disgust, happiness and surprise or interest. We can also experience different feelings like hopelessness, irritation, anxiety, excitement, loneliness, embarrassment, suspicion, contempt and so on.
Sometimes, we cover up our real emotions with other emotions. For example, we act angry when we actually feel sad. This is not helpful because anger will drive people away, instead what we need is compassion and comfort.
At other times, our real emotions are messed up. If we were scared a lot when we were a child, we might grow up having a core feeling of being afraid. We might over protect ourselves so that no one can hurt us ever again. Everyone who was hurt badly as a child, has a deep need to feel safe. However, over protecting ourselves doesn’t give us this.
Stuck and misguided emotions can change if we:
- Learn to attend to our emotions
- Are curious and patient with our emotions
- Talk about and show our real emotions
- Learn to accept having different emotions
- Change emotions with emotions
All of which are easier to do with the empathy and support of another person.
Here’s all that we have said but in an animated form.
This blogpost is based on an adaption of a youtube video entitled “ALfred & Shadow – A short story about emotions (education psychology health animation)” by Anne Hilde Vassbo Hagen on 6 February 2015.