Emotions 101 for teenagers

Teenagers holding up various emoticons
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Is it good or bad that we have emotions?

Don’t we all endure many different emotions every day of our life? There’s rarely anything we do without being emotional. Studying for an exam, talking to friends, communicating with siblings, engaging with family; all make us feel something. We could be anxious or frustrated or happy or excited; or anything. Emotions play such a big role in how we think and behave. They push us to take some or the other action, and affect the decisions we make, actions we do, our relationships, and pretty much how we live our entire life. We crave for positive emotions and are afraid of feeling negative ones. Not having emotions isn’t really possible, and well, it’s not even normal.

We are chemically run electrical machines

We say that being emotional differentiates us from machines. And yet, we ourselves are machines run by chemicals that initiate electrical signals! We have sensory receptors on all cells inside our brain, almost like mini electrical pumps. These receptors are activated by a matching chemical which brings out a particular emotion. When the chemical touches the receptor, the cell’s electrical frequency changes, and we feel an emotion. We need outside triggers and inner chemicals both, to feel anything. Events in our life act like triggers, and they stimulate this field into action. That is why we are so deeply affected by things around us. But can we regulate these emotions? Or do they take over our behaviour completely? Have you ever found yourself in situations when you felt that you lost control over how you felt and just became completely emotional? And could not think straight?

Feeling emotions vs. Being emotional

Feeling an emotion is subjective (only the feeler senses it) and being emotional is expressive (when the feeler shows the world what he or she feels). So you might feel the emotion, but hide that you’re emotional; or you may feel nothing and yet display a range of emotions (which is actually theatrical).

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Dr Shefali Batra
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Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at drshefalibatra.com.