Saturday, September 22, 2012

EMOTION ADDICTION:


Emotions are basically feelings of the mind.  There are an innumerable amount of emotions that exist, each more complex than the other. The following is a tentative list: Love, Anger, Enjoyment, Fear, Sadness, Surprise! Disgust, Shame, Excitement, Boredom, and Optimism.  Some are neutral but most fall into categories of positive or negative.

Emotions play an important role in our lives. They are a life-force that can be a springboard to take initiative and can give us the drive, momentum, and desire to take action. Emotions can motivate us, give meaning and emphasis to our words, and help us identify how we FEEL.

FEEL is the key word. Emotions are sensations! Most emotions create a feeling in the body and the more powerful the circumstance the bigger the sensation will be.

I am not a licensed psychologist nor am I a medical authority – but this is what I believe:

The world is full of emotion addicts.

As with all sensations there is a risk of dependency. Anger can produce a rush of adrenaline and can give some people a sense of passion. Fear can have a resonant affect while producing a large dose of anxiety. Memories also induce powerful emotions that, if not regulated, can lead to emotional enslavement. The power of resentment can cause people to latch onto negative feelings for years as it continues to affect them over and over again. (For more on this topic please read RESENTMENT AND FORGIVENESS)

We cannot fully understand the troubles in other people’s lives and we must never minimize their pain, however, some people who feel terrible emotional distress - to the point where they self-mutilate – can also be hooked on that pleasure. The twisted and misunderstood practice of cutting and burning oneself actually releases endorphins in the brain - the same chemical released when we eat and during exercise and sex.

While those feelings can lead to confusion and make life a hot mess, emotions aren't all BAD:

Empathy or sympathizing with others pain can also send an emotional charge through the body. Bodybuilders and sports enthusiasts may experience the power of triumph when they break barriers or score points. Even a researcher in a science lab will experience a jolt of ecstasy when there are positive results. Simply speaking to another, face to face, releases dopamine in the brain and feels pleasurable. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to be socially active.

But emotions and feelings are EVERYWHERE. They are so prevalent and it is certainly possible to get hooked. Below are all examples of how media outlets target our emotions. By changing how we feel they can influence how we think, what we want, and how we present ourselves. Big organizations understand this emotion addiction phenomenon and look to capitalize on it.

Emotion in the Media:

Music: Music is beautiful – I’m not even going to try to explain it. Music can be powerful because it can also have a resonant effect on the listener. Piano and violin are actually known for their emotional side-effects and the strong bass of a drum can be felt pulsating through the body.  A performer who bellows in a rage onstage is undoubtedly hooked on those emotions and knows his listeners… By sharing in the sorrow of a prolific poet or songwriter one can latch onto those emotions and feel the same way.

Movies: Movies are similar to music only more extreme because they offer an audio-visual-emotional experience. The action, the suspense, the sex, the thrill of a horror flick, along with the fast pace, bright lights, loud and heart tugging music is enough to give any emotion addict their fix.

News: As a business journalist, I’ve experienced this firsthand: Most news today is sensationalized and headlines and stories MUST be captivating! With so many news outlets, there is competition for readers and the one with the most eye-catching headline wins.

News outlets that cover breaking news work with any lead they can get. Unfortunately, because of the pace of their publication, some focus more on the emotional effect of their story and put little emphasis on content. Most news agencies also have agendas and write what they want you to feel, giving them tremendous emotional clout on their readers. Other news outlets love drama. They take serious political issues and portray them as if they took place on a playground while they instigate fights, rabble-rouse, spread propaganda, and fuel the fires of chaos throughout the world.

Advertisement and Marketing: This is a big one. Most ads focus on influencing your emotions so that you will buy a product. Car sales, insurance, political ads, fast food, beer, sponsor a child for a penny a day… It’s not very difficult to spot out.

The aforementioned are all examples of UNNECESSARY emotions. My goal isn’t to persuade the reader to discontinue all association with the media, but to help them recognize their influence. Have you ever cried from a movie, song, or article? Have you ever felt compelled to think, feel, speak, or act a certain way that isn’t you?   

Emotion addiction is a problem because it can decrease happiness. Emotions are EVERYWHERE; if not from outside stimuli it will come from within. There is no escaping it but we must not expose ourselves to unnecessary emotions that can affect our mental health, personalities, and quality of life. There is a big difference between feeling good and being happy and we must not confuse the two and get caught in the trap of relying on strong emotions and feelings for our well-being.

Emotions are tools that are extremely powerful and valuable, but to live a productive life we must take the tools we have and build something for ourselves.  Just as a carpenter wouldn’t sit in a rocking-chair and twiddle his hammer in his hands, we cannot sit idly and allow the electrical current of emotion to rush through our systems. Our energies are too valuable to waste on sensationalism and drama.

As I sat down to write this I realized that it may seem as if I am trying to “debunk” life. (“Maybe we should all live in the caves of the Himalayas so as not to drown in the heavy waters of emotion that are EVERYWHERE,” I mused) That is in no way my intention. But I do believe that it is important to recognize that this phenomenon does exist. We must not get sucked into our emotions (and outside emotions) - that will only zap our energy and leave us disillusioned. We need to be cautious as we dance with the influential emotions that surround us all...

I guess if you WOULD choose to get addicted to emotions, at least get hooked on the good ones :D

I LOVE YOU ALL.

3 comments:

  1. i liked this article and in some ways can relate to a lot of your thoughts. the world is NOT a perfect place but we deal with what we have or what we were given. life is very short and we have to make the best of what we have.

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  2. Absolutely, and thank you for your positive feedback!

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