“Emotion is an affective and momentary psychic state that consists in the reaction that the organism opposes to perceptions or representations that disturb its balance”
In other words, emotions are alarm bells that signal when something that can have consequences, positive or negative, on us is happening.
They have been transient but can result in something much longer lasting to the point of becoming real obsessions.
How long does an emotion last?
According to some accredited studies its duration does not exceed 90 seconds, a minute and a half during which in our mind we quickly examine the stimulus we received.
After this time the emotion turns off. Or at least this should happen. But we know that this is not always the case and that emotions often take over and continue for much longer periods.
But be careful: at this point, however, a transformation has already occurred, our emotions have become feelings!
Difference between emotion, feeling and mood
What differentiates an emotion from a feeling? The emotions are immediate and caused by external or internal stimuli, but however independent from our will. The fundamental difference lies in our awareness of what we are feeling. If emotions are born without us realizing it, in the case of feelings we assume an awareness of the causes and effects that accompany them.
The transition from emotion to feeling occurs because we feed it. When we feel an emotion, instead of letting it fade, we tend to strengthen it with thought, and the more we think about what we’re feeling, the more we give it strength and make it more persistent and more conscious.
At this point the emotion will have taken hold of us and it will be much more difficult to remove it.
But this isn’t over. Even feelings, although more stable states of mind than emotions, need to be nurtured to continue in time. The more we are involved in a feeling, the more our mind will focus on that feeling until it becomes a state of mind, which is a stable emotional condition that affects and modifies our personality.
These steps are determined by our personal characteristics, by how much we are introspective and led to reflect on situations. The more aware we are of an emotion, the more we make it a lasting part of us and our state of mind.
What are the strongest emotions
The emotions that we perceive most strongly, those that are more intrusive and able to influence us, are generally the negative ones: anxiety, anger, fear, jealousy, sadness.
This is because if we consider emotions as sentinels that alert us to what is happening to prepare us to respond in the most appropriate way, it’s easy to see how our survival is more useful to be aware of potentially dangerous situations than of situations that can make us happy.
The problem is not so much in experiencing negative emotions but in what these emotions can cause: unmotivated fear and excessive anxiety.
. (In this regard you can also read how to use music to regulate emotions: https://theselfimprovementblog.com/music-to-regulate-emotions/)
Is it possible to remove a thought?
The question is inevitable: is it possible to remove a thought? And the answer is equally inevitable: no.
Let us take an example here. George Lakoff, linguist and neuroscientist, pronounces this sentence: “Now for a minute let’s try not to think of a pink elephant”.
It’s crazy, isn’t it? None of us would have thought of a pink elephant, and yet now we can’t get that image out of our minds. It is impossible for us to follow what we have been asked to do.
Our minds escape our control and lead us to an involuntary disobedience. It triggers a curious process by following which a part of our mind will actually try to drive away the thought but another part will continue to check that it does not come back to mind and, in doing so, will continue to recall it alive!
So the attempt to suppress a thought ends up producing the paradoxical effect of making that thought an obsession.
Now let’s try to add a passage to this experiment. As we try to get the image of the pink elephant out of our minds, we are asked not to even think about the blue apes. Fluffy monkeys swinging around on their vines, eating bananas and smiling friendly…
At this point what happened to the pink elephant? In all probability we will have set it aside to make way for this new “not-thought”!
We can therefore conclude that the way to drive out a cumbersome thought is to replace it with a new thought. And if we consider that in our mind there is room for a certain number of thoughts, it is easy to understand how we will be able to fill this space with many positive thoughts, there will be much less for negative ones.
The key is to be able to “dialogue” with our inner part by making room for what has the effect of encouraging us and making us feel stronger.