Foundations of Emotion
All emotions can be traced back to the basic duality of forces in the universe. There is a force that attracts, combines, builds and unifies and there is a force that repels, dissociates, destroys, and separates. The first of these forces can be thought of as “Love”, and the second can be known as “Fear”.
Fear based emotions have many manifestations – hate, anger, envy, jealousy, anxiety and depression being some examples. Fear based emotions tend toward extremes and toward contraction. People who are in the grip of fear based emotions tend to tighten their muscles, build emotional or physical walls or barriers, isolate themselves, push others away and increase suffering for themselves and for others. For this reason, fear based emotions can be seen as contraction oriented emotions – the body contracts, defends, hardens, and tightens.
Love based emotions manifest as a sense of well-being, peacefulness and acceptance and tend toward moderation and expansion. People who are experiencing love based emotions tend to experience warmth, pleasure, desire to include others, generosity, security and internal well-being.
Love based emotions can be seen as expansive because people who experience them tend to be open, inclusive, and able to expand around difficulties without having to be badly hurt by them. The body tends to relax, become more supple, and be more resilient. Love based emotions tend to decrease the experience of suffering for both the person who has the emotion, and for people who come into contact with this person.
Physical results of chronic fear-based experience
Fear based emotions activate the sympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight response. They cause muscular tension and contraction and a range of physiological reactions that can be visualized as “contraction”. These fear based physiological changes fuel chronic stress, which in turn has been connected to a host of physical symptoms and illnesses, including cancer.
Illness, fear-based emotion, and lack of physical well-being work together in a downward spiral. An increase in any of these areas causes an increase in all of them.
The spiral can be changed, however, to an upward spiral. There are many levels on which this can happen – mental (self-awareness, thoughts, concentration, attitude, wisdom), physical (diet, exercise, life-style, health practices), emotional (awareness of emotions, acceptance, learning to not be ruled by emotion), and spiritual (finding a sense of purpose, meaning, and direction that is bigger than one’s self). Positive changes in any of these areas will bring about positive changes in the other areas as well.
Sometimes, people feel stuck in a downward spiral, or begin to notice repeating unhealthy patterns. Depression, anger, relationships that never seem to work or to satisfy, a sense of discomfort or unease that seems not to have an explanation, anxiety that hides just below the surface ready to erupt at any moment… these are some of the symptoms that millions of people quietly hide every day. Sometimes, the pain of these fear-based emotions becomes nearly unbearable, or a crisis strikes, and the pain then forces a person to take action. This is one reason that people seek out a counselor.
Counseling, however, is not only about painful feelings and crises. Counseling can also be useful for people who are interested in building self-awareness, increasing internal well-being, and expanding farther into their own innate potential. Personal growth and expansion is an exciting and rewarding experience for many people, and counselling can help you to find tools both for healing wounds from the past and for building confidence, security, and well-being in the present and future.