Emotions Shape Experiences

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Emotions & The Shape of Reality

For many of us, emotions shape our realities. They play a large role in our view of a particular person, place, or situation. If we were especially hungry and waiting for food at a restaurant, hunger can easily shift to anger. That emotion can become our loudest memory of the event, possibly even yielding future tinges of anger whenever the restaurant is mentioned again. The same is true for how we think of certain people after a particularly distinct first impression.

Perception determines perspective in a psychological phenomenon known as Affective Realism, described in this study. Maintaining a grasp on our emotions is seldom easy, especially with particularly upsetting emotions. But allowing emotions—especially upsetting emotions—to transform into actions can prove problematic, such as when we’re inconvenienced by another driver’s erratic maneuvers. Rather than allow frustration to command action, many of us might cool our boiling emotions with a dose of logic, thus entering the age ol’ conflict of head versus heart, illustrated here by TED-Ed.

Psychologist Albert Ellis once proposed that it’s not events that upset us, but rather we who upset ourselves, thereby laying the groundwork of rational-emotive behavior therapy and logic-based therapy. Though perhaps an unpopular sentiment in the wake of today’s cancel culture, these behavioral models outline how the actions of others can’t upset us if we do not let them upset us.

In this podcast, distinguished neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett discusses how better understanding of our emotions can translate to better experiences in our lives. Ultimately, our emotions are a product not of something or someone else, but of ourselves.

This week, if encountering an upsetting experience, remember that it’s up to us to challenge that interpretation. We can explore strategies on how to build pleasant experiences from unpleasant situations in the SurePeople Knowledge Center.

Though upsetting events are a part of life, they needn’t ever shape life.

“Emotions are not reactions to the world; they are your constructions of the world.”
― Lisa Feldman Barrett

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