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Importance of Emotions
Here are a few of the reasons our emotions are important in our lives. By the way, emotional intelligence has a good presentation on evolution and emotions.
Nature developed our emotions over millions of years of evolution. As a result, our emotions have the potential to serve us today as a delicate and sophisticated internal guidance system. For example, when we feel lonely; our need for connection with other people is unmet. When we feel afraid, our need for safety is unmet. When we feel rejected, it is our need for acceptance that is unmet.
Our emotions are a valuable source of information. Our emotions help us make decisions. Studies show that when a person’s emotional connections are severed in the brain, he cannot make even simple decisions. Why? Because he doesn’t know how he will feel about his choices.
When we feel uncomfortable with a person’s behavior, our emotions alert us. If we learn to trust our emotions and feel confident expressing ourselves, we can let the person know we feel uncomfortable as soon as we are aware of our feelings. This will help us set our boundaries, which are necessary to protect our physical and mental health.
Our emotions help us communicate with others. Our facial expressions, for example, can convey a wide range of emotions. When we look sad or hurt, we are signaling to others that we need their help. Yet if we are verbally skilled, we will be able to express more of our emotional needs and thereby have a better chance of filling them. But if we are effective at listening to the emotional troubles of others, we are better able to help them feel understood, important, and cared about.
The only real way to know that we are happy is when we feel happy. When we feel happy, we feel content and fulfilled. This feeling comes from having our needs met, particularly our emotional needs. We can be warm, dry, and full of food, but still unhappy. Our emotions and our feelings let us know when we are unhappy and when something is missing or needed. The better we can identify our emotions, the easier it will be to determine what is needed to be happy.
Our emotions are perhaps the greatest potential source of uniting all members of the human species. Clearly, our various religious, cultural, and political beliefs have not united us. Far too often, in fact, they have tragically and even fatally divided us. Emotions, on the other hand, are universal. The emotions of empathy, compassion, cooperation, and forgiveness, for instance, all have the potential to unite us as a species. It seems fair to say that, generally speaking, beliefs divide us. Emotions unite us.
Human Emotional Needs
All humans have basic emotional needs. While all humans share these needs, each differs in the strength of the need, just as some of us need more water, more food, or more sleep. One person may need more freedom and independence; another may need more security and social connections. One may have a greater curiosity and a greater need for understanding, while another is content to accept whatever he has been told.
It is helpful to become more aware of these emotional needs as a first step toward helping each other fill them.