The three components of emotions (DW#452)

emotions self awareness Sep 18, 2018

When we think of emotions, most of us only focus on how they "feel" but this is only part of the picture.

Psychologists explain that each emotional experience has three components. Understanding these three components of our emotional experiences is an important step in helping us manage strong emotions. 

Here are the three components:

1)    The Feeling/Physical Component: "How I feel in my body"
Emotions manifest in internal sensations in our bodies which can include heart palpitations, stomach distress, sweating, hot or cold flushes, shortness of breathe, fatigue, muscle tension or increased energy.

2)    The Thinking/Cognitive Component: "What I say to myself"
How we interpret events and experiences and the self talk that we engage in greatly impact what we end up feeling and doing. If someone cuts us off on the highway, for example, what we tell ourselves about the other driver will make us feel either anger or sympathy for them.

3)    The Behavioral Component: "What I do"
Our behaviors upon feeling an emotion are usually direct reflection of our thoughts and our physiological arousal associated with the situation. If I tell myself that the driver may be having a bad day, I might wave an understanding hand at them. If on the other hand, I tell myself "How dare he do that? Who does he think he is?" I am likely to do something far less friendly!

Can you see that as we become more aware of the three components of our emotional experiences, we can become increasingly better at managing strong emotions in difficult situations?

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