There is no doubt that of all the mental abilities that set us apart from other animals, the ability to think in abstract terms and represent complicated ideas in words is one of the most incredible.
What is even more amazing, however, is that we don’t just use these abstract concepts to name what surrounds us. In addition, we are able to think about what we think and what we feel. Maybe we are one of the only species.
What is happening is that we take this fact for granted and don’t stop to examine its potential, its implications. That is why few people know about emotional plasticity, Our ability to adapt to each situation through emotions and feelings.
What is emotional plasticity?
Emotional plasticity is our ability not to limit ourselves to passively experiencing emotional states, but to integrate them into our adaptation strategies to daily challenges.
Keep in mind that neither emotions nor feelings exist simply to enrich our subjective experience of what it is like to live. They are there because they serve a function: to guide our behavior towards goals that are generally suitable for us at all times.
For example, the mix of fear and stress that we usually experience hours before an exam will make it more likely to review knowledge, which under normal circumstances would be an unattractive endeavor. Emotions drive us to action, whether we realize it or not. The question is … are we taking advantage of it?
- You might be interested in: “The 13 Types of Learning: What Are They?”
Learn to adapt to the environment
The concept of emotional plasticity is derived from another that comes from neuroscience, neural plasticity. This last process has to do with the way these nerve cells “learn” to connect to each other following models that are useful to us in certain circumstances.
For example, when we learn to read certain neurons that are activated when part of the arm is in a certain position, they begin to associate more effectively with those that are activated when part of the chest is in position, which facilitates this movement.
Likewise, it has been shown that in many brain-damaged patients, healthy parts learn to perform the functions performed by damaged or missing neural tissue. There are even people who, although they are born without much of their brain, are developing and living in relative normalcy.
So humans we can use emotions as supports, resources to guide our actions effectively. While we tend to think that rationality brings us closer to goals and it’s the emotions and feelings that pull us away from them (as obstacles or things that distract us from what is important), it doesn’t. need to be like that.
Some useful strategies
Here are some examples of how you can take advantage of emotional plasticity.
1. Sense of completion
We humans tend to feel a lot better when we notice that we have achieved a goal. However, each of these goals can be broken down into smaller milestones, milestones to be completed.
So when you see yourself facing a task so complicated and time consuming that it is intimidating, break it down into small sub-goals, each of which can be completed in an hour or less. This way you “force” yourself to reach those little milestones. okay to be able to feel good when you’ve reached the end of each one.
2. Empathy to connect
Meeting new people can be intimidating and touchy, but those cold moments at the start of a conversation with strangers can happen quickly if we send the right signals to empathize.
Tell a short story that is interesting and talk about who we are and what we feel, For example, usually serves to engage others in stimulating dialogues in which everyone speaks honestly. Of course, make sure the topic of this mini-story comes to mind.
3. Create stories to better understand things
There are a lot of things that even though they are boring, we have to study them and learn them. To facilitate the study, make up stories that contain this relevant information. This is an example of emotional plasticity because our tendency to empathize can do it. we are interested in experiences fictitious characters from these stories, more easily memorizing the data linked to these stories.
4. Forms of resilience
Resilience is our ability to recover psychologically after going through a crisis or tragedy. While it might not sound like it, it almost always involves some form of emotional plasticity.
Just focus on the goals you associate with feeling like you’re building something useful. The desire to progress and the satisfaction of moving towards a goal it will make us stop obsessing over problems (To some extent, contrived) that frightened us and tied us to the past.