At any point in time we are sitting in a particular emotional state. These states can shift with the day, our mood, life events, and interactions. There is a constant stream of feeling that we can experience depending on a huge range of factors.

However, often we have no idea what these emotional states might be or we might be unsure how to articulate our emotional state. When our emotional state dips in to a negative space it can be difficult to shift in to a more uplifting state. We can often wrestle, struggle, and hold on to a negative state for longer than we need.

Our scripts for what emotional state we titrate to often originates in our upbringing and gets flavoured through life experiences and interactions. For people, that have experienced trauma it can take a lot of work to find inner freedom and joy. Likewise life events and changes can force us to contend with a range of challenging emotions.

Life is often an exercise and practice in titrating back to a more uplifting emotional state while trying to accept the more negative states. Therapy often aims to help us fully feel an emotional state, shift a negative emotional state (e.g. defence, fear, hopelessness), or to access a more positive emotional place (e.g. relief, calm, clarity). So why do we have or need emotions?

The Importance of Emotions

Emotions play a significant and multifaceted role in our lives, influencing our thoughts, actions, and overall well-being. Each emotion and feeling conveys information and sensation that guides our decision making and influences what our body does and how we move about in the world. Emotions essentially act as information signals that colour our experience of the environment, ourselves, and the world. For example, fear and anxiety signal danger, threat, or a potential risk ahead. With this signal we might then engage in a range of precautionary, avoidant, or escape behaviours. Here are some key reasons highlighting the importance of emotions:

  1. Communication: Emotions are a fundamental form of communication. They convey our inner state to others, allowing us to express our needs, desires, and concerns. Through facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone, we can convey joy, sadness, anger, fear, and more, enabling social interaction and understanding.
  2. Decision-Making: Emotions guide decision-making. They provide us with information about what matters to us and what aligns with our values. For example, the fear of a risky situation or the excitement about a potential opportunity can influence the choices we make.
  3. Motivation: Emotions are powerful motivators. Positive emotions like enthusiasm and passion can drive us to pursue goals and take action. Negative emotions, like anger or frustration, can motivate us to address problems and make necessary changes in our lives. Likewise, negative emotions can drive us away from pursuing meaningful goals.
  4. Social Bonding: Emotions play a crucial role in building and maintaining social bonds. Feelings of love, empathy, and compassion help us connect with others, build relationships, and foster cooperation and support. Emotions and feelings are the building blocks of our attachments and relationships.
  5. Self-Awareness: Emotions provide insights into our inner world and help us understand our own needs, desires, and values. Self-awareness, facilitated by emotional awareness, is essential for personal growth and making informed choices.
  6. Mental and Physical Health: Our emotional well-being is closely linked to our mental and physical health. Chronic stress, for example, can have detrimental effects on the body, while positive emotions can boost the immune system and enhance overall well-being.
  7. Coping and Resilience: Emotions are essential for coping with challenging situations. They help us process and adapt to adversity, trauma, and loss. Developing emotional resilience is vital for mental health.
  8. Creativity and Innovation: Emotions can inspire creativity and innovation. Positive emotions often enhance creative thinking, while negative emotions can lead to problem-solving and critical analysis.
  9. Intuition: Gut feelings or intuitive hunches are often based on emotions and can provide valuable guidance in decision-making, even when we can’t fully explain our choices.
  10. Personal Fulfilment: Experiencing a wide range of emotions is an integral part of a rich and fulfilling life. Emotions add depth and texture to our experiences and contribute to our sense of purpose and meaning.
  11. Art and Expression: Emotions are at the heart of artistic expression. They fuel creativity in various forms, including literature, music, visual arts, and performance, allowing artists to convey complex human experiences.
  12. Adaptation and Survival: Emotions have evolved as part of our survival mechanism. They help us respond to threats, seek out resources, and adapt to changing environments.

In summary, emotions are a fundamental aspect of human experience and are intricately tied to our psychological, social, and physical well-being. Understanding and managing emotions is essential for fostering healthy relationships, making informed decisions, and achieving personal growth and fulfilment. Emotions provide valuable information and influence the way we perceive and interact with the world. With this it can now be useful to understand what types of emotional states characterise the human experience.

The Emotional Guidance Scale: Emotional States

The Emotional Guidance Scale is a concept often associated with the teachings of Abraham-Hicks, a popular self-help and spiritual philosophy. The scale is a tool used to help individuals understand and navigate their emotions, with the goal of moving towards the more positive and empowering emotional states. It’s a model that suggests that emotions can be ranked on a scale from lower, more negative emotions to higher, more positive ones. The idea is to work on shifting one’s emotions to improve overall well-being and manifest more positive experiences in life.

Here’s a simplified version of the Emotional Guidance Scale, starting with the most negative emotions at the bottom and moving toward the most positive at the top:

  1. Joy / Appreciation / Empowered / Freedom / Love: These are the highest vibrational emotions associated with happiness, love, freedom, and empowerment.
  2. Passion / Enthusiasm / Eagerness / Happiness: This level includes emotions associated with excitement, enthusiasm, and a strong desire for positive experiences.
  3. Positive Expectation/Belief: At this level, you have a sense of optimism, hope, and belief in positive outcomes.
  4. Optimism: You maintain a positive outlook even when faced with challenges or uncertainty.
  5. Hopefulness: This level involves a feeling of hope and anticipation for good things to come.
  6. Contentment: Contentment is a state of being generally satisfied and at ease with life.
  7. Boredom: Boredom is a neutral emotion, often seen as a stepping stone to more positive emotions.
  8. Pessimism: At this level, there is a sense of doubt and pessimism about outcomes.
  9. Frustration / Irritation / Impatience: These emotions are associated with feeling irritated or impatient about current circumstances.
  10. Overwhelm: Overwhelm occurs when you feel inundated and unable to cope with a situation.
  11. Disappointment: Disappointment arises when your expectations aren’t met.
  12. Doubt: Doubt involves questioning your abilities or the likelihood of a positive outcome.
  13. Worry: Worry is a state of anxiety about future events or circumstances.
  14. Blame: This level involves assigning blame to external factors or individuals for your negative emotions.
  15. Discouragement: Discouragement is a sense of losing hope or motivation.
  16. Anger: Anger is a strong negative emotion often associated with frustration or perceived injustices.
  17. Revenge: This emotion involves a desire to harm or seek retribution against others.
  18. Hatred/Rage: At this level, emotions are intense and hostile.
  19. Jealousy: Jealousy is a feeling of envy and resentment toward others.
  20. Insecurity / Guilt / Unworthiness: These emotions are associated with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
  21. Fear / Grief / Depression / Despair / Powerlessness: These are the lowest vibrational emotions, marked by feelings of extreme fear, sadness, and powerlessness.

The idea behind the Emotional Guidance Scale is to be aware of your current emotional state and consciously work to shift to the higher, more positive emotions. The teachings of Abraham-Hicks suggest that doing so can attract more positive experiences and outcomes into your life. However, it’s essential to remember that emotions are complex and not always linear, and shifting from one emotion to another may not always be straightforward. However, sometimes we can shift from a relatively negative emotional experience to a positive one relatively quickly. For example, reflecting and realigning with our values and goals can boost motivation, hope, and passion etc.

If we have encountered a lot of adversity and even lower levels of challenge we can get stuck in particular circuits such as fear, shame, boredom and discontent, and anger. The reason being is that negative emotional states often have a powerful valence and get encoded in to memory often more readily. Each emotion can have an adaptive function at some point depending on the circumstances. The problem arises when the emotion or feeling now has no validity in a persons life and actually limits that person’s life or potential for more positive states.

The circle of security model of attachment – highlights how a parent helps a child’s nervous system titrate back to a more positively valenced emotional state. Likewise any therapeutic work is often about trying to transform and create pathways to the emotional states listed at the top of the scale.

Reflective Questions on our Emotional State

  1. What emotional states do you typically struggle with? How do you notice that feeling in your body or mind?
  2. What emotions were expressed in your upbringing? Were some emotions louder than others? What was the emotional climate?
  3. What positive states do you notice in yourself?
  4. What negative states do you often notice in yourself?
  5. What things do you do help to shift in to a more positive emotional state?

Conclusion: Emotional States

In conclusion, emotions are a cornerstone of the human experience, influencing our thoughts, behaviours, and overall well-being in profound ways. They serve as a form of communication, both with ourselves and with others, conveying our inner states, needs, and desires. Emotions play a pivotal role in decision-making, motivation, and social bonding, shaping the way we interact with the world and with those around us.

Furthermore, emotions are vital for self-awareness and personal growth, helping us understand our values and aspirations. They are deeply intertwined with mental and physical health, with positive emotions promoting well-being and resilience while negative emotions signal the need for change and adaptation. Emotions are also a wellspring of creativity and innovation, inspiring art, and expression in various forms.

Ultimately, the rich tapestry of emotions adds depth and meaning to our lives, making our experiences more profound and fulfilling. As we navigate the complex landscape of emotions, cultivating emotional intelligence and resilience can empower us to better understand ourselves, connect with others, and make choices that lead to personal growth and well-being. Emotions are a fundamental part of what it means to be human, guiding us through the intricate journey of life.

Dr Damon Mitchell

Dr Damon Mitchell is a clinical psychologist and owner of Core Life Psychology. As a psychologist he is passionate about assisting people to transform their inner world. Damon connects and works actively with people to find pathways to hope, healing, and inner well-being. He recognises that life can be challenging and complex and takes a non-pathologizing approach to understand each persons experience.

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