They say, it is always easier said than done. And it surely isn’t wrong. All of us know that it is good to jog, but how many of us do? All of us know that it is better to forgive, but how many of us can? All of us know that it is bad to be lazy, but how many of us pay heed? All of us know it is worse to be angry, but how many of us resist?
Well! We all Homo sapiens (which literally means ‘wise men’) have witnessed our intelligence getting overpowered by our sentiments – the moments when ‘what we think’ is simply overridden by ‘how we feel’. So, by what criteria do we declare ourselves discretely ‘sapient’?
The fact is that while a burger breaks our resolve, an insult overpowers our self-control or a relationship-trouble costs us our careers, we simply remind ourselves that we are not the thinking-beings we pose to be. Inside us lie the real rulers of our mental terrain – emotions.
Emotions weave the knitting that holds our mental life together. We live for them, structuring our day-to-day situations to give us moments of satisfaction and happiness, and avoiding moves that might lead to disappointment or suffering. They silently shape our perceptions, memories and thoughts; and are the motivating force behind our today’s actions and tomorrow’s behavior. They bring our past into play and blend it with our present to set the sail for our long-term achievements.
They determine our mental health, and mental problems largely reflect a breakdown of emotional order. That’s why even our legal systems treat ‘crimes of passion’ differently from planned or cold-blooded misdemeanor. Furthermore, we all know that when it comes to shaping our decisions and our actions, feelings count as much as – and often more than – thought. And still, they seem to be things that happen to us beyond our will.
Emotions get far more importance in our awareness than mundane events of life, while the non-emotional events find it difficult to displace emotionally-charged ones from the mind-shelf. Intelligence finds itself a nonentity when the emotions hold sway. Yes! Our passions are immensely constructive when exercised well, but can easily go awry. All this, and still as author Joseph LeDoux says “everyone knows what emotions are until they are asked to define them”!
Well! When a race euphemizes the high-nosed intellect and relegates these children of passions to city’s underbelly, it does it at its own peril…as the truth is that any pursuit of understanding humans is dangerously incomplete without developing insights into how our emotions work.
Dr. Sandeep Atre (Founder-Director, Socialigence)