Emotional flood: what it is, how it affects us and how to deal with it

Everyone was thrown into a situation where emotions and feelings flowed uncontrollably. Whether it’s anger in an argument, crying because someone told us something we didn’t like, or frustration because things don’t come out of our mouths, the truth is we can experience a real emotional flow.

We are drowning in our own feelings. The flame of rationality is extinguished by being flooded with stormy emotional rage. Reason and emotion are usually in balance, but when this situation is lost we can end up feeling terrible and making bad decisions.

Emotional flooding is a situation that everyone has heard of more than once, something very human but also very dysfunctional. is not handled properly. Below, we’ll find out why, and also look at some strategies for calming ourselves down when this happens.

    What is the emotional flood?

    Emotional Floods have a name that boasts of what they stand for. It is precisely a flood, a tide of feelings, more negative emotions that take control of ourselves and prevent us from thinking clearly. It is as if a huge wave of intense emotions were dragging us along without being able to escape, like the swimmer who gets caught by the currents and the gusts of wind on his plunging beach.

    Our body manifests stress physically. The muscles contract, the internal temperature rises, the stomach turns over and many other organic sensations are felt. Of course, however, the nature of this tension is not exclusively physical. Our minds, flooded with emotions, are isolated from what is happening around us. Negative thoughts become very vivid, their mental volume increases. They deaf us with a noise that comes from our mind.

    Emotional flood these are very common psychoemotional experiences in interactions with anyone. They are especially common in the middle of a relationship, but they can also be with friends and, above all, with family, a source of emotional support but, at the same time, of conflict and misunderstanding. Each person is trapped by their thoughts and emotions such as outrage, frustration or anger. Our feelings become so intense that it’s impossible to feel calm and serene about what others have to say to us.

    Emotional flooding is just another example of how our uncontrolled emotions can completely block our rationality. The problem with this human phenomenon is that if we don’t stop and try to get back on track, maybe we decide things or say so many things that, in the cold, we end up regretting it. Emotional floods affect our decision making.

      Causes: Why do we feel this?

      At this point, it is questionable whether the emotional flood is pathological. The truth is it is a very human and normal phenomenon, which can be experienced even by the calmest and most rational people in the world.. The reason is simple: No matter how much we believe in it, there are neither rational nor emotional people, but we are all a combination of the two components.

      In fact, there are many situations in which we make rational use of emotions, in addition to the reverse relationship, in the sense that reason is not entirely independent of emotionality. The point is, everything has a balance, a point where reason and emotion come together so that we make the most logical decisions but without underestimating what our heart is telling us.

      In addition, it must be said emotional flooding may be linked to our sense of survival. It has been hypothesized that this is an involuntary reflex that is activated when the brain detects a stimulus perceived as threatening, whether rational or irrational. Our emotions have adaptive functionality, are the product of evolution, and serve us to respond to the demands of the environment.

      When you come across something that is understood to be an injustice, a lie, or a prejudice, it can be the trigger for the whole wave of negative emotions that shape the emotional flow. Emotions such as fear, disappointment, sadness, anxiety, anger and the rest will not only manifest as psychological distress for those who suffer from it, but also they initiate a whole set of physiological changes.

      The problem with emotional floods is that this reason-emotion balance is lost, causing all kinds of emotional states to appear for a while that blind our judgment and prevent us from thinking. This is something that any human being who has been in an emotionally stressful situation will have gone through, so it is not pathological in and of itself. However, it requires effort to prevent further escalation of emotional escalation and damage to our mental health.

      Scientific research emphasizes that in order to control situations of emotional overflow, it is essential to manage the level of activation of two areas very involved when this phenomenon occurs: tonsil and prefrontal activity.

      The amygdala is a brain structure which, in addition to other functions, plays an important role in emotionality, while the prefrontal area is linked to the famous executive functions, such as concentration, decision-making, memory of work, planning… When the amygdala is overactive, emotions intensify and our rational and thinking capacity is reduced.

      So in the end we are really looking forward to it reduce the activity of the amygdala and increase that of the prefrontal cortex to manage and prevent these emotional flows.

        What can we do to control it?

        As we have seen, emotional flooding would be that process of emotional overflow in which every peak of rationality is silenced by the increasing intensity of our emotions. There are a number of strategies we can use to control emotional floods.

        1. Take a break

        Continuing the metaphor of the sea, emotional flooding can be understood as a wave that grabs us, threatens to drown us with water around our necks. The best we can do in these cases is to try and swim to shore, catch our breath and calm down, away from these looming waves from the start.

        To keep our emotions from spilling out or, if it has already happened, to try to reduce them, one of the best things we can do is step away from the emotionally stressful situation. Each person needs their time, but as a suggestion with about 20 minutes is good, enough to find good manners and calm.

          2. Breathe deeply

          A classic in all the recommendations for calming our emotions is that of deep breathing. It’s not a miraculous cure, but it helps keep our stress from building up and can calm us down within minutes.

          Deep breathing can reduce our stress load, relieve stress, and restore our focus and rationality.

            3. Dialogue with oneself

            Trying to think is complicated when you’re drowning in an emotional flood. Therefore, what is appropriate is to do this once we are better, calmer, enjoying physical and mental calm. The balance between our emotions and our reason allows us to reflect on our desires, experiences and feelings. in a lucid and holistic way.

            Engaging with ourselves is a great way to find out what made us feel so emotionally strained and what we can do to avoid it. This dialogue we can do it with a socratic conversation ask us questions like the following.

            Where does this frustration come from? Am i realistic on this who is the cause? Am I exaggerating things?

            Are my thoughts realistic? What justifies them? Does the way I react make me feel better or worse?

            What can I do to change this situation?

            Most of us have a lot of distorted thoughts about reality, which are fueled by our negative emotions. They must be detected and questioned, rationalized to the point of being able to remove the emotional filter that distorts or exaggerates them.

              4. Reassess stressful situations

              By reassessing stressful situations, we can induce cognitive change that aims to understand what happened to us so that the next time it happens we can exercise greater emotional control. To achieve this, it is essential to know yourself better and to know what are the triggers of our emotional flow.

              Bibliographical references

              • Barrett LF. Are emotions natural? Perspective Psychology Science. March 2006; 1 (1): 28-58. doi: 10.1111 / j.1745-6916.2006.00003.x. PMID: 26151184 ..
              • Denton DA, McKinley MJ, Farrell M, Egan GF. The role of primary emotions in the evolutionary origin of consciousness. Conscious cognition. 2009 Jun, 18 (2): 500-14. doi: 10.1016 / j.concog.2008.06.009. Epub 2008 Aug 12. PMID: 18701321.
              • Gross, JJ, John, OP (2003). Individual differences in two emotional regulation processes: implications for affection, relationships and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85 (2), 348-362.
              • Gross, JJ (2007). Manual of emotional regulation. New York: Guilford
              • Lazare, RS and Alfert, E. (1964). Threat short circuit experimentally altering cognitive assessment. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 69, 195-205.
              • Phelps EA. Emotion and cognition: knowledge of studies of human tonsils. Annu Rev Psychol. 2006, 57: 27-53. doi: 10.1146 / annurev.psych.56.091103.070234. PMID: 16318588.

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