Emotions- why do we need them, and what when things go wrong

Emotions are a barometer of how people feel and function while everything is in nice balance.  But stressful situations can tip this balance.  What is experienced as a stressful situation depends on a person and the situation.   But understanding what needs to be done to re-stabilize can be daunting. 

First of all, emotions are a natural part of our everyday life. All of our emotions including the positive and negative emotions help us guide our decisions, and make our lives more colourful.

As people already know, we can experience positive and negative emotions, and what and how we experience these emotions will fluctuate throughout the day, week, and so on. While our positive emotions may seem like more fun and more relevant to our emotional well-being (i.e. feeling stable, happy, content), it is important to realize that all our emotions have a function- that includes our negative emotions.

For example, anger in the face of injustice can be the impetus to drive changes. Anxiety is designed, based on evolutionary theory, to keep us save as it signals danger.

However, all emotions require us to interpret what is actually happening, and if that interpretation is incorrect, then emotions can interfere with successful functioning, and potentially reinforce the challenging emotions and feelings. This is true for negative as well as positive emotions.

But what happens when emotions begin to interfere with a person’s well-being and successful functioning in everyday life? One important question that needs to be asked is what actually drives these emotions, and not only how, but also, why do they interfere with well-being.

Sometimes, albeit not always, people may not be aware of the reasons that drive their emotional status.  At other times, a person may well know what actually happened and why negative emotions ensue, but regulation of emotions may be challenging- no fun.

And some emotions will have no direct solution like feeling anxious about what will happen in the future, and so it may be unclear on how to move forward.

As a result, there are many factors that impact emotional well-being, and as a professional, identifying what drives the challenges is of vital importance.  These underlying factors that drive a person’s emotional state are NOT always emotional in nature, and therefore sometimes other treatment is indicated.   To make this very clear, if a person has cancer, it is devastating and will have a negative impact on the person’s emotional well-being (and everyone around).  But emotional treatment would not be sufficient (albeit emotional support would be indicated). 

Similarly, nowadays our world is highly complex and requires a high level of thinking work such as absorbing knowledge, organizing information, remembering new information, and so on.  To illustrate, a simple task of going to the grocery store requires orientation, remembering what one wanted to buy, inhibiting impulsive buying (buying stuff one did not need), monitoring one’s budget and one’s time as needed (all of these are considered part of thinking functions).  If a person cannot complete such a task successfully, the person usually will experience some negative emotions.

Helping people clarify the reasons that drive their negative emotions, how to address them, is an important piece of therapeutic care at Mind your Brain. This includes addressing cognitive difficulties utilizing principles of cognitive rehabilitation for people whose thinking has been impacted by a brain injury.

If you are someone who is dealing with challenges following concussion or another brain injury, you could continue reading here

If you are a caregiver of someone with brain injury, you can read more here.

Please, check back for other blogs on caregiver issues- all to come in the near future

Summary
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Emotions- why do we need them, and what when things go wrong
Description
function of emotions and addressing emotional challenges
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Mind your Brain
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