The conversation this morning was about emotions. Where do they come from, what do they mean, what do they tell us, how do we control them, and should we even attempt to control them. Several of the participants are or have been professional people helpers of one sort or another so the conversation proceeded with some degree of profundity. It was generally agreed that the emotion of fear locks people into a narrower band of usually defensive and hostile responses and that the emotions associated with love bring on more open and mutually constructive actions. It was also said that these emotions were coming from within the person and their bundles of past experiences which influenced how individuals responded to the situations confronting them. A stoic would agree with these statements so far but would continue that the responsibility of the individual ends with their ability to influence the situation. If they have no influence they have no responsibility and must only control their emotions and their internal responses to the ongoing situation.
Perhaps an emotion isn’t what our conscious mind is thinking and feeling, but rather what that vastly larger entity our subconscious mind is “thinking.” It seems appropriate to put the word thinking in quotes because it would appear that our subconscious mind isn’t really thinking, it is a summing up and flowing together of everything that seems relevant to the moment. That probably is a vast array of subconscious habits. That is, habits that are never seen in the form of external behaviors but nonetheless interact with the multitude of other subconscious habits and create a unified action. There must be a technical term for what so obviously must be happening within the brain. If the brain is doing anything, which obviously it is, then there must be large numbers of routines and subroutines interacting with one another.
When an emotion percolates to the fore as a felt thing, it must be coming from an interaction of all these inner things. However, there are probably compelling habits that underlie emotions of fear and the other basic emotions.
The emotions focus our attention on what is important at the moment.