When we hear the word “emotion”, most of us think of love, hate, happiness or fear those strong feeelings we experience throughout life. Our emotions are the driving force behind many of our behaviours: helpful, and unhelpful. Just where do our emotions come from and what are our emotions related to the brain?
Our brain is wired to look for threats or rewards if one is detected, the feeling region of the brain alerts us through the release of chemical messages. Emotions are the effect of these chemical messages, travelling from our brain through the body when our brain detects a potential threat, our brain releases the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol which prepare us for a fight or flight response. When we detect or experience something rewarding, such as someone doing something nice for you. Our brain releases dopamine, oxytocin, or seratonin. These are the chemicals that make us feel good and motivate us to continue on the task or behaviour. In these instances, the feeling region of the brain kicks in before the thinking part sometimes the reactions of the feeling brain are so strong that it dominates our behaviour and we’re unable to think rationally in the moment: our emotions hijack our brain. While many of our emotional responses happen subconsciously, our thinking can influence our emotions and sometimes this can be helpful.
Just thinking about something threatening can trigger an emotional response. This is wehere we can manage our emotions with conscious thinking. Our emotions play a powerful role in the way we experience the world. Understanding and regulating our emotions through our thoughts and behaviours can help us take greater control of our brain, and achieve our goals.
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