How Our Emotions Become Physical

How Our Emotions Become Physical
Our Body’s Reaction to How We Feel 


Our reactions and perceptions to our environment around us trigger internal changes and states of emotion to form. We can become happy, sad, angry, frustrated, disgusted, ashamed, remorseful, regretful, just to name a few. These emotions can last various durations of time from only a few minutes long to years, depending on how we process our feelings in relation to the situation that invoked them, and the choices that we make in relation to the reactions to our environment.

If you pay close attention to your body, you may notice some physical changes happen as emotions take effect. For example, if you think of a time when you felt overwhelmingly happy – perhaps you found yourself in a moment of gratitude with your family or loved ones, or your hard work paid off in a big way. Do you remember feeling warm, to a point that your body might have felt that it was buzzing? Do you notice that you might get a hyper burst of energy when you become happy, or do you recognize that in others, as if they get giddy with energy right down to their toes?

Now think of a time that you felt in love. That warm feeling centralizes to specific parts of your body – your heart, and your reproductive organs. Reasons for this are embedded deep into our genetic code and our drive to reproduce, however we’ve evolved to be more than just reproductive animals – natural development in our modern society teaches us that a deep meaningful relationship is worth investing into, rather than just the attraction of love in the physical form.

What disgusts you? Think about it for long enough and you’ll notice that your mouth has maybe pinched, or your throat has gagged up as if you’d be ready to spit at whatever you’re disgusted at – or whoever!

If you’re ashamed, your cheeks might flush. If you’re caught doing something that you shouldn’t do, this might be a natural reaction – but even more so, what you’ll notice happening if you may very close attention, is that the moment that you’re caught doing something that you weren’t supposed to be doing, the heat will quickly leave your arms and legs and go straight to your core, and then flush up into your face. This is your flight instinct kicking in, and it can be so easy to want to RUN! Or, lie. Your body is positioning heat where it requires it for faster adrenaline production. It takes bravery to stick around and own up to what you’ve done wrong.

Remorse, regret, stress and grief all reside in the lower abdomen of the body. You’ll often find it hard to have an appetite if you’re holding onto these emotions, or you may find that eating is the way that you suppress these feelings – it all depends on how your body digests its troubles, no pun intended.

Anger holds the most heat in the face. Notice that its easy to yell when you are mad? There is also a lot of heat in the upper body, which might explain why many people are apt to throw a punch at a wall, or even at the person that has caused them the upset.

Anxiety and depression show interesting patterns. Anxiety has a lot of heat circulating the heart, which will cause a faster heart rate and an increase in adrenaline. The flight instinct will be turned on high. Depression has a clear lack of any heat at all. Those who battle with depression can likely relate to the difficulty to maintain normal function on difficult days – this may help to explain why. Your body is physically struggling – it’s not just in your mind. Be kind to yourself, help is on the way!

So what does this all mean? Even though what you’re feeling is happening on the inside, the body truly does manifest it in a very physical way. The small physical changes that you’ll feel if you pay close attention create heat patterns that can be measured with thermographic technology to show various unique pattern for each emotion. These tend to be culturally similar all around the world from what has been studied.

What is more amazing is that your horse can read these patterns and recognize the emotions that associate to each of them…more on that next!

Infrared Thermography as a Measure of Emotional Responde by Jody Clay-Warner & Dawn T. Robinson
Human Emotion Recognition from Facial Thermal Image using Histogram Based Features and Multi-Class Support Vector Machine by A Basu, A Routray & A K.Deb


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