6/3 How does our Emotional Nature Develop?

A. So we continue with the 7 parts of your personality by focusing on the Emotions. 

Where do they come from?  How can we understand the Emotions we have gained from our scared childhood?  How can we move toward Total Wholeness with Healthy Emotions?  All these questions are important, so join us as we see where our Emotions come from!

B.  Our Family of Origin Influences our Emotions

Our family of origin is the emotional cradle of our feelings.  This is the first and most lasting influence on our emotional development, especially from our primary caregivers.  Most often this is our mother.  In some families feelings are belittled, ignored and punished and as the person develops they can learn to treat their emotions in a similar manner. Remember the first 6 years are the most essential to good mental and emotional health.

1.  Emotional sensitivity is ‘wired’ to the physical body.

Somewhere between the 6th and the 8th week of pregnancy, chemical baths of sex-related hormones wash over a baby’s brain.  When testosterone floods a boy’s brain, it can cause the right side to recede slightly, destroying some of the connecting fibres.

As a result, most boys start life more left-brain oriented.  This left side of the brain processes more of the logical, analytical, factual and aggressive thoughts of life.

Since most females start life with more of these fibrous connective tissues, they are able to handle more two-sided thinking between the two halves of the brain.  Thus females are more likely to be involved in relational, language and communication skills.  They can better handle imagination and fine detail activities.  Most females can accomplish several tasks at once, allowing them to ‘multi-task’.

2.  We learn or inherit emotions by watching others

From our home environment, our culture and the world around us, we take on the pattern of responses of others.  This includes our emotional reactions to various events ‘seen’ through our biases and prejudices.

3.  Some emotions are ‘inbuilt’ to help us to cope.

We all take on some coping mechanisms, such as withdrawal, to overcome the fear of rejection by others.  Our reactions to illnesses, accidents and traumas, cause emotions.  If a child is caught in some emotional distress, that they cannot express, their emotions can become crippled and thus restrict the child in their expression, variety and intensity.

4.  Emotions result from our perception about an event or person.

B.  Emotional Development in children

1. Research shows us that a three-month-old baby will have two basic emotions: delight and distress.

As we grow and mature, other emotions develop around these two basic emotions.  The miserable baby with wet nappies, always hungry, seldom touched and given little attention, will develop deeper ‘distress’ emotions and more negative ideas about our world than the baby given plenty of love.

The family of origin was intended by God to develop our emotions in a healthy way and if not dealt with healthily will cause many problems for the person and the family. Have you ever seen a toddler throw a big tantrum, now imagine an adult throwing one with as much rage as the toddler and its becomes easy to see why emotions need managing as we grow.

2.  Remember the poem:

“If a child lives with criticism, they will learn to criticise.

If a child lives with anger, they will learn to be angry.

If a child lives with ……”

What the child grows up with is the pattern that is set for life.

3.  Emotional expression in children is limited.

As children, we could not – or even dared not – express the emotions we were feeling.  The little girl would not have dared say “I hate you Daddy for belting me, when it was his fault.  I want to beat you up too.”  Instead, she learns to bury this emotion, often crushed under a parent’s ignorance or angry abuse. The child is caught in emotional distress they cannot express.

 4.  The effects of neglect and abuse on the emotions of a growing child can leave them traumatised and stunted.

Thus, the emotions themselves can become crippled and restricted in their variety and intensity.  Too much pressure to behave and ‘be good’ crushes the spirit and deeply effects the emotions.  However, too little discipline has effects as well.

The child buries emotions to be able to function.  Suppression can happen so often that now as an adult, they are unable to feel those emotions.  By learning to express emotions, by verbalising them, or writing them down, the child’s repressed emotions can be brought to light.

5.  There are answers for the scars of childhood!

Our Creator does not want us to live in the crippling influences of the past.  We have far more choice as to how we react now as adults.  Yes, the past may be the cause of the pain but there are answers to bring healing to the emotions.  See our future post on ‘Inner Healing’.

The key to how we handle our own emotions as adults is to recognise the patterns we grew up in our family.  We also need to examine how our parents handled their own emotions and each other’s emotions.

Far too many of us have learned unhealthy ways to handle our emotions.  This too can change.  Join us in our next post as we look at the common Unhealthy way we all deal with our Emotions.

Susanne Fengler, Blog Author




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