Feeling Lost: Emotions-Feelings-Values
At times we feel lost and wonder whether we are still on-track. This discussion might be helpful.
I start this discussion with emotions and feelings and will end with values.
Emotions are universal and hard wired in the brain. They are a reaction to environmental stimuli (triggers) and occur automatically and before we are consciously aware of them. The clearest example is when thinking about human survival in the face of danger and how our body reacts to give us a chance to survival.
Common emotions are fear, anger, distrust, happiness and sadness. There are many others that have been identified and I list a few more here that are recognizable: Surprise, admiration, adoration, aesthetic appreciation, amusement, boredom, calmness, confusion, contempt, craving, disgust, emphatic pain, envy, excitement, guilt, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, pride, relief, satisfaction, sexual desire, sympathy, triumph.
Feelings are mostly our interpretation of our physical sensations and are shaped by our personality and experiences. Feelings are often based on a mix of emotions and more than 4,000 have been identified. Humans tend to differentiate between pleasant and unpleasant feelings.
The most well-known feelings are: Afraid (scared), angry, safe, happy and sad. Others most of us recognize are: Hopeful, considerate, inspired, alive, curious, strong, optimistic, positive, thankful, brave, confident, excited, safe, upset, bored, alienated, nervous, guilty, alarmed, worry, restless, crushed, tortured, rejected, injured, heartbroken, powerless and miserable.
Thank goodness, humans are more than their emotions and feelings. If we were driven by our emotions and the interpretations we give to the sensations, we would focus on survival and pleasure and despite being capable in identifying others’ misery, we might not behave accordingly.
That is why our Values are important.
We develop values based on the influences of our upbringing, society, education and social interactions. Values guide our choices through life, whether related to relationships or professional life. Our values change as we are influenced by others. Some values we had in childhood are no longer relevant and therefore discarded.
The state of having inconsistent ideas, attitudes and values is known as COGNITIVE DISSONANCE and is unpleasant. Of course, people can deny the new and inconsistent information and or justify their behaviours and avoid further exposure, but they can also adjust their thinking pattern (i.e. growth).
Therefore, it is important to reconstruct our values to find out what is important to us now and in the future. This process requires a level of effort, introspection and being open and honest with oneself.
Values and morals are often mentioned in the same sentence as our values are often influenced by what we perceive as desirable. Morals are personal standards of behaviour related to what one feels is right or wrong, acceptable or not acceptable.
Values guide our behaviour and attitudes and tend to be stable until one is faced with overwhelming evidence that their once cherished values are no longer relevant or admirable.
Values are related to what one feels is important in life and what one perceives as meaningful and what brings one joy.
Some of our values can be selfish (as these are based on human survival), others can be selfish but also benefit others at the same time, for instance feeling that it is important to be successful in your career can be perceived as selfish, and even negative when one desires to be successful at all costs.
Most however, do not perceive a successful career in isolation of other values, as one can be successful and generous, which ensures that others benefit from your success.
Lists of values can be found on many websites, but most people can come up with a list by themselves by focusing on who they want to be, what is most important to them in daily life, and what they want to achieve as well as what they value in others.
If you feel lost, list what is important, meaningful and joyful. It directs you toward the person you want to be.