Emotions as states of matter
Introducing the four food groups of emotions
Yesterday I told you all about my teacher Joanne Greenham.
She was fundamental in my understanding of shame.
I wrote about how her impish light touch turned shame into embarrassment.
This is somewhat akin to turning ice into water then into steam. We identify them as different things.
And they are all states of matter. They are all fundamentally the same thing: H2O
Shame, guilt, embarrassment and humiliation on a physical level are similar.
The same can be said for anger. Anger, annoyance, irritation, rage - they are all anger, just in a different state of matter.
Joyful, happy, amused, pleased? Feelings that have the same impact on the body as well.
Sad, disappointed, grief stricken, devastated, depressed?
All the same too.
Excited, aroused, attracted, compelled? Same.
People have come up with hundreds of different emotions. It’s wonderful how precise we can be in defining how we feel through language.
Language is an approximation and is, like the experience of shame, highly subjective.
On a physical level, I see four ‘food groups’ of emotions in my clients. They are emotions from the Happy family, the sad family, the angry family and the excitement family.
Fear isn’t an emotion. That’s an embodied reaction to novelty and stress.
Fear resides in a different part of the brain to these other things.
It’s funny though. People really fight this idea. The idea that our emotions are pretty fucking simple in terms of how they fire in our brains and bodies.
Our cognition wants to take over and add levels of storytelling to justify the difference between angry and pissed off, between annoyed and angry.
Shame is bad, but embarrassed is somehow ok. Angry is bad and shameful, but annoyance is to be tolerated.
Again, these are the same sensory experiences wrapped up in a story.
And the story seems to be that extremities, though they may be human, are rather unwelcome in polite company.