The Function of Emotions

Emotions

The Function of Emotions

One of my favorite topics of conversation regarding emotional intelligence is educating my clients on the function of the 4 major emotions. When you look into other sources regarding building and utilizing your emotional intelligence, rarely do you learn about why you have emotions in the first place. Many coaches, professionals, bloggers, and vloggers will not talk about the psychology behind your emotions. This is something I know and teach my clients when discussing emotional intelligence. What I’ve seen by educating my clients on emotions is an acceleration of progress regarding their emotional intelligence.

Anger

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Data

Anger is very prevalent in American society. 65% of office workers have experienced office rage and 80% of drivers admit to being involved in a road rage incident. The average office worker suffers from desk rage twice per day. With these numbers, anger is everywhere. But what is the purpose of feeling angry?

Function

Anger occurs when you perceive wrongdoing. Situations such as uncovering a lie, cheating, and stealing are common examples of why you would feel angry. The purpose of anger is to give fuel to your body to remove the problem. The racing heart, feeling sweaty, and deep breathing are all symptoms of you feeling angry. There are typically two responses you will have with your anger. One, you storm off and remove yourself from the situation. Two, you begin some kind of altercation either verbally or physically. This behavior is focused on removing the problem or wrongdoing. 

Fear

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Before we begin to discuss the function of fear I wanted to explain the difference between anxiety and fear. There is none. Anxiety is intense and prolonged feelings and sensations of fear. The higher the frequency and intensity of fear, the closer you are to having a professional diagnose you with anxiety. An anxiety diagnosis is essentially a professional way of saying “You spend too much time experiencing fear and it’s causing you more problems.”

Data

Let me discuss some of the statistics regarding anxiety so we can understand how common this problem really is. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. affecting 18.1% of adults each year. Those struggling with anxiety are 6 times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those without anxiety. Lastly, the CDC reported during August of 2020 through February 2021 there was a significant increase in anxiety symptoms from 36.4% to 41.5%. This means almost half the population is dealing with anxiety and increasing the risk of being hospitalized. 

Function

Anxiety occurs when you lack the confidence to either avoid or survive unwanted consequences. Imagine this scenario, you are hiking in the woods and come across a grizzly bear. You suddenly have intense anxiety that this is it. You are not confident that if a grizzly runs you down you will live to tell about it. This is accurate because your brain knows you are not equipped to fight off a grizzly bear. Now if your little niece or nephew is having a bad day and decides to pick a fight with you, you are confident you’ll live long enough to laugh about it later. Anxiety motivates your body to gain security and safety by increasing your control of the situation. Have you ever been micromanaged, or been the person to micromanage? Fear is at hand in those situations. The reason why parents micromanage their children, they have no confidence that their kids won’t get themselves hurt. 

Sadness

Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80111

Data

Just like fear and anxiety, sadness and depression are the same emotion. The same rule applies. Depression is simply prolonged exposure combined with high intensity to sadness. Let’s go over some of the data to better acknowledge how common this emotion is. 7.1% of the adult population struggles with depression. 10.6% of physician office visits are focused on depression symptoms. Lastly, 15% of youth in the U.S live with depression. 

Function

Sadness occurs when there is a deficit or a predetermined deficit. What I mean by predetermined deficit is the thought of losing something of importance such as a job or a loved one. Sadness exists to remind you that something is missing from your life. Loss of a loved one, rejection of the desired outcome, and not feeling good enough are common triggers to sadness. 

The purpose of feeling sad or depressed is to motivate you to fill that hole. Often when people feel sad or depressed they begin to obsess over what is missing in life. Think of the last time you applied for a job you really wanted and were rejected. You probably thought about it for a few days or maybe a week. What is missing in life is whatever the job would have given you. Income, work-life balance, or recognition. The same process applies to a recent break-up. There is some kind of hole in your life and in order to get rid of feeling sad that hole needs to be filled.

Joy

Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80111

Many of us do not think about why we feel happy and often it is really obvious why you feel good. By looking into the function of joy I have noticed many of my clients find creative ways to find more joy in their lives. Before we get into the function of joy, let us discuss some of the data regarding joy.

Data

Having regular contact with a minimum of 10 friends improves overall happiness. This is primarily because we are naturally gregarious creatures. We need to socialize in order to fight off feeling isolated. An annual salary of $75k does increase your happiness. People often say money doesn’t buy you happiness. That is only partially true. What we have seen is that the higher your income goes past the threshold of $75k annually, the less of an impact it has. Basically, someone making $100k is not any happier than someone making $80k when it comes to overall happiness. It is the reason why we see celebrities and high-paid athletes still struggle with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Money does buy happiness, but only to a certain point. 

Function

Joy exists to reward you for healthy behavior. Hugging someone you love, completing an important task, and finishing a blog are all examples of when happiness occurs. The purpose is to have you repeat the behavior. Hugging someone you love feels good because being surrounded by loved ones is good for us. We are protected by people who care about us and strength comes in numbers. Getting paid feels good because money has become important for a variety of reasons. Getting more money means we can have less stress about paying bills or spend money on frivolous things that feel good such as a massage or a vacation. Joy is rewarding and that reward keeps you motivated to repeat the same behavior. 

One of the struggles with joy is that not everything brings immediate joy. Delayed gratification is a struggle because there is no immediate joy. Going to the gym and creating a daily workout routine is a perfect example. Getting in shape takes time and rewarding joyous results will not happen overnight. It often takes a month or longer to see the results of a workout routine. In order to bypass it is important to reward yourself along the way to stay motivated. Motivation and reward walk hand in hand. 

Conclusion

If you read this blog you are now more emotionally intelligent. By understanding each of the aforementioned emotions, you have a better understanding of why they occur. So when you notice these emotions in yourself or notice them in others you have a fundamental understanding of each emotion. You notice you are sad, something is missing. You see a co-worker become angry, they discovered a wrongdoing and want to remove it. Now all that is left is for you to apply what you have learned and continue developing your emotional intelligence. 

Learn more about Emotional Intelligence here

One thought on “The Function of Emotions”

  1. Terri Golden says:

    I found this by accident and LOVE THIS!! This is very informational and helpful. I would like to thank you Coffee, and congratulate you on your hard work. I will be coming back to your page for more reading so please keep up the blog. ~ Terri

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6200 S Syracuse Way Ste 260
Greenwood Village, CO 80111

James.Marrugo@MorningCoffeeCounseling.com
720.253.8272

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