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Facing your Fear; Understanding the 8 Core Emotions

By January 30, 2021April 9th, 2021No Comments

How many people have you heard say, “they don’t know how to express their emotions” or” they are too emotional”. At times, emotions come with a deep-seated reluctance to share; we are hesitant to be with an intense feeling. 

What does this mean for us? 

How does this impact our lives? 

What is it about being vulnerable, people fear? 

The reality is, we are creatures of emotions. We are instinctual beings that for as long as time, have reacted to events. What we begin to understand is that reacting out of emotion can come with a path of destruction, mess and turmoil and then, the beauty of hindsight taps us on the shoulder and says “well that was irrational, illogical and impulsive”… 

Some people try and get through life, ignoring that we are emotional, innate beings and decide to suppress them, sometimes for very valid protective reasons. So, what does suppressing emotions look like?… visualise a soft-serve machine filling up your cup of ice cream and then not turning off; a rather big mess. Delicious image, drastic outcome. You don’t need that much ice cream all over the place. 

What is more ideal is starting to face our fear of the looming reality: emotions and allowing ourselves to shine a light on them; taking control of them, letting them come and go, and enjoying your ice cream before it starts to drip down your arm and move right along. 

Below I talk about eight core emotions, the fundamental emotions that make up a much more comprehensive array of emotions that we experience through our days. Each emotion is trying to tell you something, prepare you, warn you, warm you, protect you. Today I invite you not to let fear win. Fear will make you stay complacent, in your comfort and the norm rather than surrendering and finding balance and more presence in your life.

A clear example of what I am talking about is the experience of discomfort. Instead of letting it rule you, control you, bend you… listen to it. Perhaps try to pay attention to what is happening to you right now, maybe you can take the opportunity to try something different from what you usually do. 

If you can not help but experience anxiety or anger in any given moment, there needs to be a conscious effort to surrender and let go, as allowing it remain will cloud your mind. Until those emotions pass, they will dictate your other thoughts, moments, decisions, interactions or events. Without noticing it, the more an emotion stays too long in our experience, the more it pushes you off the course of the solution our outcome you desire. In other words, the ice cream snuck up on you and is dripping down your arm and onto your shoes—a missed opportunity for delicious consumption and now a melting mess.  

How do we go up against our emotions’ vulnerability, the anxiety of expressing ourselves, or the unknown of understanding how we feel?

Balance is critical, and we must counteract the intensity of one emotion with the soothing of another. The following emotions are explored and explained, allowing for perspective. To gain more balance is to think about facing discomfort and approaching fear with more radical acceptance. Remember, emotions come, and they go, they are never permanent.

Understanding the 8 Core Emotions

Fear 

Let’s start with fear. Fear is caused by the threat of perceived pain, danger or harm. There are so many uncertainties and unknowns in our lives that can rustle the feathers of fear. Our reaction when we are in fear is to fight or flee from it. We attempt to not be in fear by trying to escape or run from it. 

But what happens when we sit with it? 

Fear is trying to alert you to something. It’s trying to get you to protect yourself, to observe the ‘perceived threat’. For example, when forming relationships, we are confronted with real unknowns. There is a lot of risks involved, and we can get scared. However, it’s about what one does with that fear, when we can go beyond running form it, and wherever we can sit with it, make meaning of it and understand it. And maybe, take that risk.

How to face your fear and embrace a balance of this emotion?

I, like many, am afraid of getting hurt, uncertainty and what’s next. My fear is trying to tell me something. Sometimes it’s worth the risk to explore and embrace the unknown. Other times it’s about respecting what your body and mind need. Of course, protect yourself and put yourself first, do your best to stay safe but check your fear. Staying and sitting with fear may bring opportunities for you to find or create something so beautiful.

Love 

Love can manifest itself as an emotional experience which can look like an intense euphoria and deep attachment. Love is like oxygen! Love, when interrupted, paused or lost can cause a lot of pain and sadness. Love is one of the purest and most precious types of currency that exist in this world. When we have it, it provides and helps meet our complex needs. When we lose it, we notice what impact it had. 

How to face your fear and embrace a balance of this emotion?

To use love as a booster of happiness can actually create false hope. If we always strive for love, we start to ride the waves of very high but then very low. When we subject ourselves to overwhelming love, if it is impeded or taken away, we bleed. Instead, be present, pause and be grateful for the power love brings. Love is something we should be incredibly grateful for when we have it, very patient and kind to ourselves when we lose it, and never lose hope to reignite it.

Pain 

Sometimes emotional pain can be as intense as the physical pain we experience. Just like physical pain, emotional pain can manifest itself throughout the body. In our heart, in our stomach, in our neck and shoulders. Being in pain or being with someone in pain can be an intense experience. A lot of the time, it’s the heart that’s hurting, a heaviness that washes over us with overwhelming sadness.

When we do sit with discomfort, it might lead to tears; this might lead to feeling hollow, exhausted, defeated, this might lead to running and hiding. BUT, you are human, we are all going to experience loss, we are all going to have periods of grief. Pain is a normal and expected emotion. The challenge is learning to be with it rather than trying to push it away and move on too quickly. If we run from it, we can have residual un-dealt with baggage, and nobody wants that. 

How to face your fear and embrace a balance of this emotion?

Be compassionate with yourself. Acknowledge that you are in pain, and just be with it. “Hey pain, welcome back, today I got 10 minutes, but then I’m busy pal”. People may tell you to move on, push past it, things will get better and all that yibber yabber. Challenge yourself and be with your pain when its there and be kind to yourself. It’s OK to cry, its OK to grieve, you are human.

Joy 

One of the more pleasurable and desired emotions compared to the ones I’ve mentioned. Even writing about joy sparks nice happiness for me, as when we experience joy, it’s really vibrant. It’s essential to be mindful that if we shut out or numb our emotions, it can actually stop us from experiencing joy and love too.

So what brings on joy?

For many, we see the most joy when we can genuinely connect with someone else or connect blissfully with ourself. Like all emotions, Joy comes and goes, so it’s something to be grateful for when it bursts into our life again. What brings on the most joy for me is when I can serve others with no real personal gain and have a big ole attitude of gratitude. Create a mantra; “I am grateful for those that have helped spark my joy and the connections I have that keep bringing it back”. 

How to face your fear and embrace a balance of this emotion?

Finding our way back to joy is sometimes what can help us deal with some of the other big emotions. Find what brings you joy, treasure it and protect it. If we experience joy and have gratitude when it’s around, it will keep the ego at bay. This gives us fewer highs and fewer lows, and instead, a more content balance. This will help keep your cup full, help overcome the little things and show how you can hold yourself when pressure arises, or other emotions flock together. Reflect on your joy and use it to propel you into steadiness and more contentment rather than quick bursts of unsustainable energy.

Anger 

Is it a bad emotion? I don’t believe any emotion is bad. Again, every emotion is trying to tell us or teach us something. Anger usually arises when someone, something or even ourselves crosses a line, a boundary that we have set. Anger is associated with being let down, mistreated, unfairness or injustice. Some people are taught never to express anger and only to be kind, while others, anger was introduced as a tool used over others to dominant or shut down. In both of these, we can see anger spill out sideways.  Suppressing anger and not being able to express it will make it really difficult when there is a valid reason to express anger, for example, standing up for yourself or being assertive and heard. Instead,  it will linger and spill out sideways through outbursts like rage or through taking it out on ourselves.

On the other hand, constant use of anger can mean when we are in pain or fear we mask it through anger. It can also start to become violent or a rage causing harm to ourselves and our relationships. Neither are helpful. Instead, anger is trying to guard and protect us and allow us to stand up for ourselves. It is how we respond to anger that determines our actions.

How to face your fear and embrace a balance of this emotion?

Sit and be with anger, just like all the other emotions. Let it impact you and then choose how you be with it. Don’t be controlled by your anger; learn to manage it! It’s OK to be angry, the trick is, having the serenity to accept things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference. When you apply the serenity prayer to anger, it can shift anger to be dealt with in a healthy and meaningful way. 

Shame 

Shame Shame, I know your name. Shame is one of those deep-seated emotions that binds to other emotions. Core beliefs are formed from your past experiences which create that feeling of shame. You may have negative core beliefs about yourself, for example, “I don’t matter” or “I’m not good enough” distort or misrepresent your reality. These work as the lens in which you experience and interpret the world when you get triggered into that space. When we were little, we started to make sense of the world. We found out that what we are sitting on now is called a chair, our mum and dad are our parents, and they are meant to care for me. We then question things about ourselves, are we important? Valuable? Loveable? We find the answer to these lessons from direct or indirect messages we receive throughout our experiences.

Direct messaging maybe Bob, “you are so smart”, or Bobette “you are so stupid”. An indirect message may be a parent not being present or not having time for you. That message might be “I don’t matter”, “I’m not worthy of support”. Another example may be an overly critical or even violent parent might indirectly create the message of “I’m not good enough” or “I’m unlovable”.

Shame, therefore, is one hell of a doozy (I intend to write solely on this powerhouse emotion).

How to face your fear and embrace a balance of this emotion?

There are three main things to help break your shame cycle.

  1. Have an awareness of your thinking
  2. Challenge that negative belief and start owning “I am enough” by affirming your beautiful self, but then
  3. Back that Up!! Take action that shows that “you matter” and that “you are enough” and own it. Do things for you, learn to love yourself and radically accept you for you! Set boundaries with yourself and others and start finding out what it is you need.

Guilt 

Guilt is an emotion that arises when we go against our own values. This is not to be confused with shame! There is a big difference. The best way to simplify it; Guilt = I did bad. Shame = I am bad.

Guilt can start to look unhelpful and unhealthy when we have unrealistic expectations or standards. These standards may have been around since childhood or from old relationships. This can lead to self-punishment and beating ourself up about what we’ve done. We get stuck in the complacency of our old way of thinking. For example, If you are a perfectionist, you stay trying to achieve the best outcome, for failure brings guilt. Without realising, guilt, when it latches on tight, can mean that each one of your strategies to get on with your life will be infected by a contagion of guilt and then bring it along to each decision. 

How to face your fear and embrace a balance of this emotion?

Practice Self-compassion, we all fuck up. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Align compassion with slowly facing the behaviour and feeling that hurt us or others and sit with it. Be accountable, take responsibility, seek forgiveness and start to regain your sense of self. 

Loneliness 

We are inherently built to be with others, yet so many of us feel alone. Loneliness has the desire to be with others, to connect socially, but are unable to do so. This can even occur for people who may be surrounded by others but still feel utterly and profoundly alone. When people are in isolation, loneliness among many other factors can feel incredibly painful.

How to face your fear and embrace a balance of this emotion?

Yep. you guessed it, notice what you feel and listen to what you need, connect where you can.

Embrace connection, it is the only way. Connect with yourself and connect with others. Facing your fear of loneliness may mean not going out every night to distract, not messaging that boy or girl you shouldn’t or drinking and drugging to numb out. I’m talking about real embrace. Face that fear, be kind to yourself, it is not easy to learn we are lonely, but with support and connection, we will find more balance with this emotion and cope more when it comes to town. 

If you resonate, great. Keep pushing yourself to be with your emotions, if you need help going further, going deeper with understanding emotions and overcoming fear, then reach out. I will guide you to find the right path to give you balance, whether it be counselling with me, the right self-help book, or someone else that will meet your needs. 

 

Reach Out!