The origin of emotions and their evolution

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Human beings have always been influenced by external elements. We decide to do something due to physiological needs or the appearance of external threats. We put ourselves into action due to events that can’t be changed presently, at injustices that goes against our basic principles. Many people choose professions according to the sense of gratification that they bring or because the payment allows them to solve immediate problems. There is always a force that drives us to take action, but from where do they really arise?

The first reactions that influenced our prehistoric ancestors came from our reptilian brain (mentioned in previous articles), where the response to a new encounter was influenced by three options. The first, realizing that this encounter could represent death, urges us to flee by helping physiological changes to guarantee its success (such as the feeling of cold through our body and that time is passing more slowly), giving evolving later to the emotions of fear and disgust. The second, seeing that the threat can be dominated or terminated, pushed the human beings to the confrontation, to kill in order to defend the territory, expand it or feed ourselves (the circulation of the blood is accelerated, fists closed anticipating the attack), giving birth in the future to the emotion of anger. As third and last we have the impulse to procreation, developing sensations of affection to guarantee the union and growth of the offspring, which will give rise to emotions related to happiness and sadness (when suffering a loss).

I feel then I act.

If we take some time to do a logical analysis as Descartes did with his “I think therefore I am”, if we put each one of our actions in question and ask constantly ourselves why, we can notice that in all our action there is an emotion as the source, there is something that drove us.

But then, this could say that we would not have control over our lives, it would mean that our emotions would be as a pilot of our future, that the cerebral amygdala plays a superior role in our brain, not so much the frontal lobe. Every action would be focused on satisfying our main needs, making humans a creature focused on benefits, a selfish being.

There would be no free will and we would only be a primitive being who seeks satisfaction. Of course, this would be true if we had not developed the so-called mirror neurons and their empathy, allowing the proliferation of humanity and societies.

The development of our emotional intelligence allowed the growth and liberation of our society. All social movement was achieved by this factor, creating noble feelings, originated not from our personal situation, but by understanding others in situations of need. This is why great leaders have left a mark on people’s lives, because they have felt the emotions of others and were prompted to take action.

Of course, this was as good as it was bad. To understand fear in others and manipulate it has always been a basic tactic to control people, getting many people to do things against their benefits by fearing the possibility of losing their role in society, playing with a main emotion.

An interesting point is found in how the main religions always transmitted a message in favor of the development of empathy, of the growth of emotional intelligence, following the example of a superior figure, seeking the proliferation of the species and societies. We always hear the consolidated phrase that observes the union of what makes us similar, not what differentiates us, and this is the main point of religions.

Some people may take certain phrases, parables or written facts to give strength to their arguments and gain personal benefit instead of the groups, but you can’t deny the basic principles those sediments a message of empathy.

Emotions arose from our survival instincts and grew, evolving when we developed our group habits. An adequate management of our emotions will allow us to leave these routes imposed by our instincts, and development of our empathy will make an impact on our society, giving us a spiritual gratification, satiating a greater necessity.

Do you feel that there are situations that dominate you? Do you know why the answer to certain problems is always the same, even though you do not want to respond like that?

We can’t control how emotions are going to make us feel, but we can decide how we are going to react.

Feel it!!!

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