A great way to become more in control of our emotions, is to understand why we feel them in the first place. Emotions are triggered differently for all of us, what makes one person angry, may make another sad, and that all stems back to our thoughts. We will all have different thoughts in response to a trigger, and these thoughts dictate which emotion it is that we feel.
It's nice to feel happiness, and love, and we can't imagine our lives without these, but other emotions like anger and sadness, grief and frustration, can get in the way and leave us wondering why we have to feel. If you've ever felt so sad you wished you felt nothing at all, you know what I mean. But there is a point to all of our emotions, and understanding what that point is can help cope with them, and manage them better.
Happiness- Not that we need any real reason to understand the point of happiness, but this emotion helps our body to relax. When we feel happy, our body and our mind gets a break from being prepared to cope and relaxes itself, releasing chemicals in our brain that calms the central nervous system. Happiness tells us what we need to have in our life in order to maintain this positive feeling, and is usually linked with something that we require to thrive, such as socialising, or eating good food. As human's, our sense of happiness has helped us to evolve into such a successful species, and has driven evolution massively.
Sadness- As with most things, there must be an equal or opposite reaction in our emotions, to help us pinpoint what we want in our life, and what we don't want. If we felt happiness all the time, it would lose it's meaning and it's purpose, and we'd have no appreciation for anything good. Sadness helps us to identify with situations that we work towards avoiding, but of course cannot avoid forever. Losing a loved one, the end of a relationship, or being away from home, can trigger sadness, helping us to realise the areas in our life that need some mending. Sadness gives us permission to rest and to take time to ourselves, helping us to figure out what we can do about what is making us feel sad. It's important in the balance of our world to feel sad sometimes, and without it, we'd be lost.
Love- It's an obvious link but the feeling of love binds us to those that enhance our life and helps us to bring new life into the world. Love helps us care for and raise new people, and gives us a sense of purpose and meaning . Love energises us, and gives us motivation to behave in ways that will encourage others to love us back. The fact that love is an energiser is also what makes that initial feeling of love so overwhelming! Not being able to sleep, eat or concentrate is all a side effect of all that energy bouncing around inside us. The chemicals released in our brains when we feel love are quite addictive, and create a rush of energy and confidence in ourselves, which is why this emotion is difficult to control.
Anger- Anger is also an energising emotion, and gets us ready to fight for a cause that has upset the balance in our life. We feel angry when we perceive our morals or principles to have been threatened by someone else, and we need energy to respond and get back that equilibrium. Also very hard to control, anger can lead to irrational and impulsive actions, as the need to fight for what we believe in is innately strong, but channeled in the right way, anger can be really useful to us. People have changed the world and battled injustice over the centuries by channeling anger effectively, and when you are able to control it, anger can be a powerful force for change.
Excitement/Worry- This is a hard one to describe, as excitement could also be called 'nervous', or 'worried', which have the same effect on our body as excitement. Excitement as an emotion is actually linked to anxiety, where our body pumps itself full of adrenaline in preparation to fight or flee a situation. The difference here is what you're thinking. While adrenaline does give you energy, it can also cause you to freeze in panic, which in some circumstances may be useful, but leads to quite a conflict in our mind and our body. We need excitement and anxiety to help keep us safe in the world, and let us know when we need to be prepared physically to react. For instance, one person queuing for a roller coaster may feel excitement, and the other may feel nervous, but either way, their bodies are both preparing to endure the ride. Without anxiety related emotions like these, we'd soon be dead, having put ourselves in harms way without any ability to cope with it. The issue here of course, is when these emotions hold us back from functioning. More on that another time.
These are the basic emotions that we all feel, and within each of these are lots of sub categories like 'joy', 'fear', 'lust', 'grief', 'loneliness', 'upset' among many others. They all fall under these broader headings, but just describe the different intensity of the emotion we're feeling.
Learning to accept your emotions for what they are, either an energiser, a relaxer or a indication you need to rest and look after yourself, is the first step in knowing how to manage them better. Sometimes it's good to listen to what your body is telling you and go with your instinct.