Most thoughts, information and visuals/audio that enter our brain ignite a first response known as emotion. But we are not always aware of these emotions and we do not always know how to handle such emotion either. So, is self-consciousness of emotions a good thing to do? Being self-conscious will help you to get to recognize your emotions and gain some control over them.
Self-consciousness is not the same than self-awareness. Self-awareness is when one thinks of one existence as a human being in the present time. And self-consciousness is to be aware of our surroundings, aware of our actions and the things/qualities we have. An Emotional experience can lead to formation of feeling. However, feelings and emotions are not the same. Emotions are brief physiological responses from our bodies to a given stimulus, they usually go away quickly too but they come back if the stimulus repeats E.g., anger, embarrassment, envy, empathy, etc. While feelings are mental associations acquired through experience, and they do not go away that quick. E.g., love, resentment, compassion, depression, etc. An emotion can be the beginning of a feeling that will develop later. And feelings can sometimes be expressed through emotions like when you are smiling because you saw the person you are in love with, or when you cry because you are depressed. Therefore, it is said that emotions and feelings are two sides of the same coin. Likewise, there are 2 sides to being emotionally conscious. The good and the bad sides. The positive side says that one will feel satisfied, happy, proud, and socially responsible of one’s actions, but the toxic side says that one will feel overwhelmed, depress, anxious and helpless. Unfortunately, there is no wall that separates one side from the other so an individual can easily shift from one side to the other while practicing self-consciousness of emotions.
Self-consciousness of emotions develops in 2 stages. The first group is composed of embarrassment, empathy, and envy. While the second group is conformed of guilt, shame, and pride. Self- consciousness of emotions appears in our lives around our second year of life and only after the toddler develops self-recognition. In other words, if the infant cannot even recognize himself in a picture or in the mirror, there is no way he can be self-conscious of his/her emotions. Nevertheless, such infant does experience emotions regardless of not being conscious about them. The second group of self-conscious emotions develop only after the toddler has capacity to understand some basic social rules that allow him/her to express either (1) shame (for failing a task), (2) guilt (of doing something not acceptable), or (3) pride (for successfully achieving a required chore). This develops usually after 30 months old.
Bottomline, being conscious of your emotions and having discipline (to not fall into the bad or extreme side) is a must because only when you know about the problem, you can do something about it. Therefore, in a journey of self-help, it will be necessary to practice self- consciousness of emotions but with caution to not overdo because exaggerating this habit will lead to overwhelming and not being able to move on.
Baumeister, Roy F., and Brad J. Bushman. Social Psychology and Human Nature. Cengage, 2021.
Burton M.D., Neel. “What’s the Difference Between a Feeling and an Emotion?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 19 Dec. 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201412/whats-the-difference-between-feeling-and-emotion.
Legg, Timothy J. Ph.D., CRNP and Gotter, Ana. Self-Conscious Emotions. Healthline, June 25, 2017, https://www.healthline.com/health/self-conscious-emotions. Accessed on April 30, 2021.
Lewis, Michael, et al. “Self-Development and Self-Conscious Emotions.” Child Development, vol. 60, no. 1, 1989, pp. 146–156. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1131080. Accessed 5 May 2021.
Rutgers , The State University of New Jersey. Emotional Development: Self and Self-Conscious Emotions. Rutgers Medical School Department of Pediatrics, https://iwjms.rutgers.edu/departments/pediatrics/divisions/institute-for-the-study-of’-child development/research/emotional-development. Accessed on May 4, 2021.
final presentation (power point)