Emotions are a factor in every human experience and are necessary for healthy development. While we often relate emotions as reactions to events, they also play key roles in our decision making.
Our emotions are set at an early age. If we are raised in a positive environment, our emotions tend to be constructive in nature. Our emotional reactions tend to be appropriate for the situation.
However, if our emotional development was impacted negatively early in life, our emotional responses tend to be erratic and excessive. Ultimately, this behavior can have a destructive effect on our lives.
The 6 Basic Emotions
While there are countless emotions, and emotional responses, there are six primary emotions that we will focus on – fear, anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, and happy. These have been universally accepted across multiple cultures as the six basic emotions.
When one of these emotions is triggered within, there are two ways we will respond, Reactively or Reflectively. Which way we choose is very much based on our previous emotional development.
Reactive versus Reflective Responses
When we reactively respond to an emotional event, our brain is using our five basic senses to assess and process the situation. It then sends out responses to the rest of our bodies based on that assessment of safety or pleasure.
Unfortunately, our assessments are not always accurate, and previous experiences or memories can affect how we interpret those events.
Reflective responses are closely related to memories when used to assess an event. Reflective response gives us much more control over how and to what level we will respond emotionally to a situation.
Either way, emotional responses can become problematic in our lives when we do not control them, and they become unpredictable.
Art therapy is one way we can learn to deal with negative emotional responses. In addition, art therapy can help with developing emotional awareness, and effective coping skills to emotional events.
There are many different exercises that can be incorporated into art therapy. Some involve creating an image that is symbolic of an emotion or scale of emotions and how they affect you. While others are designed to help you understand your feelings and develop skills to better manage them during an emotional event.