Moods and Emotions in Everyday Life
00:00 Welcome to, For the Sake of What…?, a podcast to help you become unstuck in everyday life by offering you a different perspective. Each episode will provide some tips and tools for looking at life differently and for leading yourself to be your own version of success. My name is Deanne, and I am your host.
00:28 Hi! It’s Deanne here again and welcome to Episode two of the “For the Sake of What…?” podcast Today I’m going to be talking about moods and emotions in everyday life, and I’m so excited to be sharing it with you. I think that learning about our emotions and developing our emotional literacy can really open up so much choice for us in our everyday interactions. And I really want to share these possibilities with you.
00:52 Throughout our lives. We learn how to interact with the world in various ways, and this learning takes place pretty much from birth. It comes from our families, our culture, our society, our upbringing and our interactions with others over the years. Sometimes it might be obvious learning, such as when our parents teach us manners. Other times, it might be more subtle and it might be the result of how we’ve interpreted an experience such as that time Aunty Maud, snapped at us when we were only trying to help.
01:19 Our learning about emotions is really no different to how we learn how to interact with others in life. We each have experiences that open us up to our learning about emotions. Sometimes that learning is useful and sometimes it isn’t. Although we may not always realize that that’s the case.
01:36 Today I’d like to talk to you about two common things that we tend to learn about emotions, and then I’d like to offer you some different interpretations that may or may not be more useful for you. So the first piece of emotional learning from my past that I’d like to share with you is that we only ever experienced emotions in those times of heightened response and not all the time. So from this piece of learning, we tend to assume that if we’re experiencing a heightened level of anger or sadness or happiness or excitement or whatever, then we’re feeling that emotion. If we don’t feel a heightened emotional response, we assume that we’re not experiencing an emotion in that moment, and this I think is how we probably came to think of people experiencing emotions as emotional because we only ever saw the heightened emotions and we kind of got used to our
experiences of emotions being about emotional extremes. And here’s where I’d like to offer a new interpretation.
02:36 We all experience emotions in every given moment. Most of the time, we don’t even realize right now. For example, I don’t think that I’m feeling anything. I can’t feel on emotion. I don’t feel angry. I don’t feel as though I feel sad or happy or whatever. I just feel like me.
03:00 However, if I was to pause and really notice my emotions, I would find it least one emotion present. And to demonstrate this when you get a moment, I’d like to invite you to pause for about a minute and, in silence, just take notice of your emotions and what you’re feeling. What emotions do you see present? Can you name them? And, if you can’t name them, can you identify what story they’re telling you, what action you feel like taking and how the emotion feels in your body?
03:24 So I did this exercise prior to commencing this episode, and I noticed acceptance, enthusiasm, excitement, curiosity and a little bit of anxiety as well. I’ve been having some issues with my podcasting microphone after that incident the other day where I dropped it on the floor, and so I was feeling a little bit anxious about whether I’d even be able to get this podcast episode to record.
03:45 And so if you pause to notice your emotions, you’ll most likely notice different emotions. The thing with emotions, I think, is that they help us to interpret our world, and so if we notice them, we can obtain some insight into how we’re interpreting our world. They show us the story that we’re telling ourselves about our experience of the world. In that moment, for example, anger tends to have the story off. This is morally wrong or unjust. So when we experience anger, whether we notice it or not, that anger is there to tell us that there is something of our experience in the world in that moment that we see as morally wrong or unjust. And if you think about it, we really need anger because if we couldn’t identify what was morally wrong or unjust, how would we know what we thought was morally right or just. And this, I think, is where the challenge comes when we try to suppress or control our emotions. Because if we’re suppressing emotions such as anger then what we’re really doing is we’re actually rejecting some of the information that the emotions giving us about the world and here’s the Gold Nugget. If we notice our emotions and become aware of them, we can eventually choose what we do with them. So if I notice anger, then I can choose what I want to do with that anger before it chooses what I’m going to do.
05:02 And if we follow the traditional learning of emotions only existing in their heightened form, then we quite possibly wouldn’t notice emotions in other situations where they’re not heightened. And this may not always be helpful because, if we don’t notice them were potentially remove choice with regard to how we use them.
05:19 So my first interpretation that I’m offering you is that we experience emotions in every given moment, and we do that so that we can receive information about how we’re interpreting the world. And this is very different interpretation to the interpretation that we only experience emotions in heightened circumstances. And so I invite you to really understand and explore the emotions that you’re experiencing and in any given moment so that you can actually become aware of them and come to notice them and come to notice what they’re telling you.
05:51 So I said I had two pieces of learning that I wanted to throw some alternate interpretations out for. And the second piece of learning that I recall from my past is that some emotions of good or right and some emotions are bad or wrong, And examples of supposedly good emotions might include love, kindness, happiness, joy or acceptance. Whereas examples of supposedly bad emotions may include fear, sadness, anxiety, pride, arrogance, anger and resentment. And the thing with dividing emotions into good and bad is that we tend to think that we should always be experiencing the good emotions and never be experiencing the bad emotions. And then we start to judge ourselves when we don’t meet those expectations. And, if we’re experiencing
emotions in every given moment to take in some information about our world, then it stands to reason that we won’t always be experiencing the “good” emotions. Sometimes we need to experience what people have traditionally interpreted as “bad” emotions.
06:54 Generally, I don’t like categorizing emotions as good or bad, because I don’t really find that particularly useful. Think about it. Our bodily functions and processes – even the yucky responses to things such as food
poisoning – are done by our body to take care of us in some way. So, we might succumb to some illnesses. But the functions that are body does naturally tend to be there to help us and not to deliberately harm us. So if our functions are there to help us and not to deliberately harm us, why would emotions be bad? Why would our bodies have a set of functions such as emotions that without harm us or to hurt us or to be bad for us? So my interpretation of emotions is that emotions are not good or bad. They’re simply emotions.
07:44 And, thinking about this further, the word emotion loosely means the energy that moves us. And so I think this is supported by the word itself containing the word motion. Each emotion is aimed at moving us in some way in response to our experience of life. And this, I think, is actually where the interpretation of good or bad emotions probably arose. And I think it arose out of confusion. Because if each emotion moves us in some way, then each emotion is going to have a thing that it is most likely going to direct us towards doing. So an action that it inclines us to take.
08:20 For example, in the emotion of anger where we tend to have a story that something is morally wrong or unjust. We tend to be directed towards punishing the source of injustice. And this, I think, is where anger has gained its bad reputation because when we don’t notice and emotions such as anger and we blindly continue along the path that it directs us towards, we take the action without necessarily having any choice. And if we’re blindly being directed towards the path of punishing the source of our wrong doing or an injustice, then we’ll remove choice and the actions that we take may not necessarily be pleasant.
08:59 And so I think that over many centuries we’ve seen actions that we don’t like being taken from an emotion of anger and we’ve blamed those actions on the emotion. The actions and the emotion tend to become one and the same. And I think when I think about emotions, I like to think of an interpretation that I find more useful, which is that our emotions inform our actions. So instead of our actions and emotions being tied up together in one package or one parcel, our emotions inform our actions. And if we’re aware of the emotions, then we’re going to be informing our actions more deliberately and more consciously and from a place of choice. But if we’re not aware of our emotions, we are going to be informing our actions almost blindly and without any control, without any choice. In a way, our emotions are going to start to manage us.
09:51 And you know, I think when you think about it a little bit more detail, it kind of makes sense that our emotions inform our actions because if I was about to step on a snake, for example, I might feel fear. Well, there’s no point in feeling fear, if it’s not going to do anything for me and right now about to step on a snake, right? So I need for you to do something for me, and fear warns me that is a known danger. So if fear warns me that there is a known danger, there’s got to be a reason for it warning me. There’s no point it warning me and still stepping on the snake. So the fear is going to help me to become safe by telling me to get away from the danger. So in this case, to avoid this snake.
10:32 So we don’t have to allow our emotions to inform our actions without us having a say in what we want to do. And in a way, I like to think of it kind of like going for a drive. So if you’re going for driving your car, then as you drive along the road, you’ll probably see a lot of signs along the way. So imagine you want to go to the beach and you’re driving along the road and use their signs on the sides of the road. You might come to an intersection, and there are signs. Now, if you see the signs, then you’ll know where to turn to go to the beach. So if you’re driving along, um, to an intersection and there’s a sign to the left that says Beach and a sign straight ahead that says City and a sign on the right that says Country, if you see the sign that says beach, then you could make a conscious choice to turn towards the beach. But if you’re driving along the road and for whatever reason you don’t see the signs, then you’ll probably follow the default path. And when you’re driving, that’s probably going straight ahead, right? So instead of going to the beach, you’re probably going to keep going to the city. So, you know, you might eventually get to the beach, but you kind of took a long way around it, and there’s no guarantee that you’re going to get to where you want to go.
11:45 And I see emotions in a very similar way. So when you feel anger, anger is giving you a sign that there’s something in the world that’s unjust. And so if you notice that sign, then you can choose what you do with the anger, and it might be that you want to punish the source of the injustice. But there might be other things that you can do. Or it might be that in punishing the source of the injustice, you want to do something different, to, yelling at them or setting the person up or whatever it might be. So if you notice the anger, and noticed it as a sign that there’s something in the world that you feel is unjust it the moment you can then make a choice about what you want to do. And sometimes that might be something as simple as making a request. Perhaps you’ll make a request to the person to not to do that again. Or perhaps you’ll make a request to someone else for something else. It could be that you decide to have a conversation with the person, or it could be that once you’ve actually thought about it and noticed it, you’ve realized that actually, the reason that you’re feeling like there was a source of injustice wasn’t actually anything to do with the person what they did it was actually to do with what you’re interpreting, so you’re going to maybe not do anything this time. And the thing is, they’re all really valid approaches. But if you didn’t notice the sign in the first place the sign that the anger was there on the sign that you had seen something that was unjust, then you won’t have the choice.
13:12 So I think that these are actually quite useful interpretations of emotions because my experience with emotions is that we tend to go through life thinking that they’re not particularly useful and not thinking that they can be our friend, whereas I think with this new approach of just being aware of them assigns and noticing them and trying to listen to what they’re saying to them, we could become friends with them and we can choose to sit in an emotion if we want to. We can stay in the emotion for as long as it serves us. But the key is, is the emotion serving us?
13:44 I think there are plenty of examples of where we can use this approach in everyday life, and I think the key is that it’s not going to come immediately, right, because you have had your whole life learning how to use emotions in a certain way and learning how to treat them in a certain way. So you’re not going to change them overnight. But what you can do, is start to become aware of what you’re experiencing and noticing that and then starting to question why you’re experiencing it that way and why you’re interpreting it that way and starting to really understand it. And then from there you can make choices about what you do with it, and you can do it gradually over time in response to situations. Sometimes it might be that you have the emotional learning and work out what it means after the event. Sometimes it might be as you’re experiencing the event, and either way is OK because you’ve got his and years of learning that may not have been useful about emotions to kind of step away from.
14:44 So how will we use this new interpretation of emotions in everyday life? Well, a really simple example that I can think off is quite recently when someone sent me an email and it was an email that I didn’t think was particularly nice. In fact, I thought it was actually quite rude, and when I first read it, I remember feeling quite angry about some of the things that were said in that email. And, so because I was feeling angry. I think my immediate reaction was “Right! I’m gonna go and have a talk to this person. I’m going to tell them what I think!” And then I decided to pause and notice the anger and notice what it was trying to tell me. And what I realized was that I actually felt that this person’s email had unfairly represented me in some cases. And as I sat back and thought about it, I thought, “Hang on a sec. This person has an interpretation which is valid and right now I’m feeling a little bit hurt by that interpretation. But it is actually their interpretation. So what could I do to actually deal with this situation? What can I do to create something constructive from it that doesn’t involve both of us yelling at each other out of anger or people getting upset or people not talking to each other or whatever?” And as I thought about it, I started to think that actually, in that particular moment, in the context of the email that was sent, the most important thing for me at that point in time was that this person felt listened to and taken care of because their email was really just an attempt to be listened to.
16:25 And, so, I looked at the email and started to think about what I should do next or how I how I could work with it next. And what occurred to me was that there was a conversation that would be useful to have with that person. But I didn’t think the conversation could actually easily happen from anger, because in anger, I was just so keen to put my point across, defend myself and make sure they knew that they were wrong. And so as I thought about it, I started to think about other emotions that might help me. And, what I came up with was that I actually thought the emotion of curiosity would be really helpful, because what I could do then from curiosity, was I could ask questions about what the person meant in the email, And I could, um, then get their advice on what would actually turn the situation around for them. And so I had a conversation with the person. I had it from curiosity. I still got my concerns across about what was in the email and how I felt about some of it, but I was able to do it from a place of seeking to understand whether they had meant me to interpret it that way and whether they had even thought about interpreting it that way. And what we came up with during the conversation was that the person was actually so keen in getting their point across that they hadn’t even thought about how I was feeling. So to think that I might be angry or upset hadn’t even occurred to them and when they realized that, they were actually quite upset. But I don’t think we could have had that conversation and arrived at a constructive outcome if I’d remained in anger.
17:55 And that’s not to say that anger is bad because, like I said, no emotion is good or bad. But for me, in that moment, what I arrived at was operating from anger wasn’t going to help me to get the outcome that I wanted and because I saw the anger and noticed the anger and understood why it was there, I was able to choose what I did, and I was able to then help someone arrive at an outcome that worked for both of us, and I think that is the power of understanding our emotions and how we use them in everyday life. And I think it’s just such a fascinating and wonderful thing to be able to do. And I’m just so excited to be able to share that with you.
18:39 So I’m really keen to hear about how you may have been practicing developing your emotional literacy in your life. And there are email addresses at the end of the podcast. Feel free to send through some stories and ideas around how you’ve used emotions and how you’ve shifted your emotions or changed your actions to bring about more useful outcomes. Because I think it would be really amazing to just hear what you have to say.
19:03 So something that I said I’d talk about and I haven’t yet is moods. And the obvious question is, what is the difference between moods and emotions? My interpretation of moods and emotions is that emotions tend to be in response to specific events. So if I’m about to step on a snake or I’ve just seen a spider, I might experience fear. In my case, it would be if I saw a mouse, I would experience fear. If I have just received news of a newborn baby, then I might experience joy. If I’ve just achieved something for the first time, I may experience pride. And so emotions tend to be responses to specific events, and they don’t necessarily hang around for too long. Could be seconds. Could be minutes could be an hour. Moods tend to hang around for a long time, so they’re like emotions. But they’re sort of like emotions that have decided to stay for a holiday, and sometimes you just don’t even know they’re there and you don’t know how to get rid of them. And what they do is, unlike being a response to a specific event, what actually happens is that they sit in the background and they inform much of what you do in life because, like emotions, they still have a story that they’re telling you they still have actions. They predispose you to taking on. They still have feelings in your body, but because you’re living from them more longer term, you may not actually notice that they’re even there, and so people can actually go for entire lifetimes. operating from a mood and may not even realize that they’re doing so. And the key again, like all of this work is, “Is that mood serving me?”.
20:46 So you know, you can operate from a mood of whatever you like if it’s serving you. But sometimes it might be that that mood isn’t necessarily serving you. So being aware that we have moods operating in the background, informing us when we don’t even know they’re there can actually be quite useful for us.
21:03 All right, so I think we’re probably about at the end of the moods and emotions piece that I wanted to discuss today. I think it’s such a fabulous topic. I’m so pleased to have been able to have shared it with you. What I think I’d like to do in some of the future episodes is to pick some specific emotions and maybe talk about those. So I think in the next episode, what I’m going to do is pick a couple of emotions and talk to you about those and what they mean and talk about how we can use them. For now, I think it’s time for me to say goodbye once again um again, I invite you to go and sit quietly and perhaps explore what emotions you might be operating from right now and to notice why they’re there and what they’re doing for you.
21:46 All right, so I think that’s pretty much it. I hope that’s been helpful. Really Looking forward to catching up with you again in a couple of weeks where we’ll talk about a couple of emotions. Um, it’ll be a surprise. I’ll choose them sometime between now and the next couple of weeks. Wishing you all the very, very best. Thank you and cheers. Bye for now.
22:06 Thank you for joining me this episode on the “For the Sake of What…?” podcast. If you’d like to know more about what I do, feel free to visit my website https://leadingandbeing.com or to visit the “For the Sake of What…?” website, https://forsakeofwhat.world website. Otherwise, you can connect with me on Instagram @leadingandbeingcoaching or feel free to drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, bye!