While often times we are not brought to an excited or emotional state on our own volition, that is not to say that we cannot be conscious and in control of our emotions or even evoke them at will. However, the formal definition of “emotion” states otherwise:
A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling: the emotions of joy, sorrow, reverence, hate, and love.
A state of mental agitation or disturbance: spoke unsteadily in a voice that betrayed his emotion.
The part of the consciousness that involves feeling; sensibility: “The very essence of literature is the war between emotion and intellect. “
Do we not admire actors for their ability to embody their character and convey a real sentiment of fear, anger, or melancholy? Are we not moved by the jealousy driven murder of Desdemona in Shakespeare’s Othello? Any dramatist worth his salt will tell you that in order to truly be in character, you must actually be in the emotional state of mind of the character; you must place your mind in the time and place of the character; you must be the character. How can this be accomplished if emotion is simply an arbitrary mental state which arises spontaneously? Isn’t depression actually the willful decision to be depressed; to incessantly relive a tragic moment or force yourself to constantly re-experience an emotional tragedy? Some people will be in a state of deep depression for months or years on end and then miraculously awake, as if from a bad dream.
It only appears that emotions arise spontaneously. In actuality they are provoked or something causes them to arise within us. These emotions can be subtle and almost unnoticed or we can be completely overcome. The bottom line is that, emotions affect the way we behave and the way we respond to the outside world. They are our internal gauges that help us identify moments of focused content. For emotion is always attached to some subject.
A problem arises when these gauges malfunction. We see them spinning out of control, screaming at us that we’re losing altitude and inevitably going to crash. In reality, when we look back after the emotional moment has passed, we can see that in fact there was no great threat, we just overestimated due to the strength of the emotion. Essentially, we failed to understand the true cause(s) of that specific emotional state of mind. This phenomenon is usually associated with negative emotions such as fear, sadness, depression, anxiety, jealousy, and others. We become blinded by the rage and unable to use our creative, thoughtful powers due to the almost drunken state we find ourselves in when effected by such negative emotions.
When we are conscious of our emotions and aware of what triggered them, we can control them and “put them in check” or embrace them and gain almost superhuman abilities. When anxiety overwhelms us, we feel trapped and closed in, and may respond like a cornered animal. Reigning in the anxiety and recognizing it for what it is: an uneducated emotion, allows us to gain the upper hand and more clearly assess the situation. On the other hand, embracing the strength of love will cause us to take unthinkable actions to save another, even risking our own lives in the process. It is this focus on positive reinforcement and awareness of the way negative emotions affect us that we must try and maintain each day. When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or have the desire to become aggressive, take a moment to collect yourself. Remove yourself from the situation causing you the unwanted emotions, search for reasonable solutions and compromises, use your brain power to overcome adversity!