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Old 06-26-2019, 12:06 PM
 
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I believe that our emotions, if understood and allowed to be, can guide us toward healthy or maybe beneficial choices. Fear can keep us safe. Anger can help us defend what's ours. Contentment hearkens back to choices that brought it about, and reinforces those choices. Even negative emotions like shame or envy have a purpose. Shame may keep us from doing something that will put our status with our group at risk, or it may motivate us to hide what we've already done. Envy can help us define what we want and possibly instruct us on how to get it. Watching other people's emotional displays, and having the ability to read them, also taught us what was safe and effective, and what was not.

All this makes particular sense to me in the circumstances our ancestors lived in where survival was often an immediate concern. Those ancestors survived because those emotions moved them toward actions and circumstances that enhanced their survival, and away from those that did the opposite. Those sensations and almost iunstinctive responses were likely heritable, and so we have similar tendencies. A person with no sense of fear likely died before reproducing, or in any case each generation with that trait ran a distinct risk of being the last. To the extent that this is true, it can explain a lot of current emotional turmoil when our emotional systems seem to be looking for the kind of immediate threats we faced for most of human development. Our living circumstances have evolved faster than we have.

So if you share my admittedly simple explanation regarding how emotions work, or if you can look at them through that lens, where does sorrow fit?

Last edited by homina12; 06-26-2019 at 01:33 PM..
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Old 06-26-2019, 12:59 PM
 
Location: on the wind
7,072 posts, read 2,899,892 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homina12 View Post
I believe that our emotions, if understood and allowed to be, can guide us toward healthy or maybe beneficial choices. Fear can keep us safe. Anger can help us defend what's ours. Contentment hearkens back to choices that brought it about, and reinforces those choices. Even negative emotions like shame or envy have a purpose. Shame may keep us from doing something that will put our status with our group at risk, or it may motivate us to hide what we've already done. Envy can help us define what we want and possibly instruct us on how to get it. Watching other people's emotional displays, and having the ability to read them, also taught us what was safe and effective, and what was not.

All this make particular sense to me in the circumstances our ancestors lived in where survival was often an immediate concern. Those ancestors survived because those emotions moved them toward actions and circumstances that enhanced their survival, and away from those that did the opposite. Those sensations and almost iunstinctive responses were likely heritable, and so we have similar tendencies. A person with no sense of fear likely died before reproducing, or in any case each generation with that trait ran a distinct risk of being the last. To the extent that this is true, it can explain a lot of current emotional turmoil when our emotional systems seem to be looking for the kind of immediate threats we faced for most of human development. Our living circumstances have evolved faster than we have.

So if you share my admittedly simple explanation regarding how emotions work, or if you can look at them through that lens, where does sorrow fit?
Considering that there are many reasons for sorrow its probably complicated. Sorrow seems to be a result of something else, which could be another emotion.

You could feel sorrow over an action you took, the loss of a loved one, sad about your life in general. The "use" for sorrow would differ for each of those. Maybe sorrow triggers re-assessment of past behavior which could prevent a person from repeating a mistake. Sorrow over life could also be regret over past mistakes too, or opportunities/risks not taken. Maybe sorrow over a loved one triggers closer bonds with and care for the other loved ones a person still has.
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Old 06-26-2019, 03:00 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
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Sorrow might be a byproduct of love, in some cases. You suffer sorrow when you lose a loved one in death, or to estrangement.
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Old 06-26-2019, 03:48 PM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homina12 View Post
I believe that our emotions, if understood and allowed to be, can guide us toward healthy or maybe beneficial choices. Fear can keep us safe. Anger can help us defend what's ours. Contentment hearkens back to choices that brought it about, and reinforces those choices. Even negative emotions like shame or envy have a purpose. Shame may keep us from doing something that will put our status with our group at risk, or it may motivate us to hide what we've already done. Envy can help us define what we want and possibly instruct us on how to get it. Watching other people's emotional displays, and having the ability to read them, also taught us what was safe and effective, and what was not.

All this makes particular sense to me in the circumstances our ancestors lived in where survival was often an immediate concern. Those ancestors survived because those emotions moved them toward actions and circumstances that enhanced their survival, and away from those that did the opposite. Those sensations and almost iunstinctive responses were likely heritable, and so we have similar tendencies. A person with no sense of fear likely died before reproducing, or in any case each generation with that trait ran a distinct risk of being the last. To the extent that this is true, it can explain a lot of current emotional turmoil when our emotional systems seem to be looking for the kind of immediate threats we faced for most of human development. Our living circumstances have evolved faster than we have.

So if you share my admittedly simple explanation regarding how emotions work, or if you can look at them through that lens, where does sorrow fit?
We have to feel sorrow to feel empathy and love for others (for example, you can't feel sorrow when someone dies if you didn't love them or at least feel empathy for them), and we have to have love and some degree of empathy for others because survival is very difficult when one is entirely on their own. You already mentioned several things that aid in our ability to function and survive within society, not just in the wilderness - sorrow and love/empathy are tied together because the loss of love makes us feel sorrow and seeing sorrow in others makes us feel empathy, all of which aids in our ability to find companionship and function in society.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:17 PM
 
Location: planet earth
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Sorrow relates to perception of loss.

You might be interested in the Abraham Hicks Emotional Scale. They teach that emotions are purely guidance, and that the negative emotions are you not being in alignment with "who you are."
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:44 PM
 
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Good responses. I like the idea that emotions not only guide our actions, keeping us safe or on a path that will work for us, but they also communicate. Sorrow takes a form that elicits concern and support from others. In an evolutionary context, that could be literal support while we get back on our feet emotionally, as well as emotional support that lets us feel closeness or love when we need those things. So we get past the hurt and function again, and survive. It's more subtle now, but for most of human history we've needed direct help and cooperation from a clan or tribe or village to survive. So that makes sense.

But still, why sorrow. It's the sorrow or depression or despair that puts us at risk. Couldn't good experiences end or change without sorrow instead or causing sorrow so that others help us out? Sorrow seems like a medication that causes nasty side effects but which contains it's own antidote. Why did we evolve to need sorrow and what it signals in the first place?

Maybe it comes with the genetic territory, sort of the flip side of love or happiness or belief. I guess the risk of having experiences that provide positive emotions is that those experiences may end, and we suffer in their absence. In an evolutionary sense, given our tendency to support people who are suffering, I suppose that while sorrow doesn't help us survive, it doesn't typically work against survival either. And I guess it can form bonds that strengthen relationships and the group, making everyone safer.

Right now I'm thinking sorrow is like an appendix, though. Mostly useless and prone to painful inflammation.
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:45 PM
 
Location: San Angelo, TX
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Slowly releases trauma of a loss, required for your health. It passes...
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Germany
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I guess it's like mourning a future that didn't happen?
Interesting, the Abraham Hicks Emotional Scale is what I think is happening generally.
Negative emotions are just your subconscious trying to tell your conscious self that it disagrees with how you are thinking.
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Old 06-27-2019, 12:22 AM
 
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To signal to others that we are in need of some level of care on a social level. What does a baby do when it needs something? It cries. Because babies can’t do ANYTHING for themselves they’ll also cry at ANYTHING. As we mature we’re obviously capable of doing more and more for ourselves, but comfort, care, and feeing loved isn’t something we’re able to do on our own. I think we retain weeping when sad as a way to signal to others that we need that loving.

I recently read an article that suggested that heartbreak activated the same parts of the brain that physical pain does. I.e., feeling heartbroken physically HURTS, as far as the brain is concerned. But obviously there are no physical wounds to care for. No bone to splint or cut to stitch or illness to medicate. What we do have is a brain that is capable of releasing chemicals with pleasant effects like dopamine and oxytocin to basically self-medicate. But, it can’t release these just on its own, these chemicals need a trigger. What does the brain do to get what it needs to heal, which is, a caring embrace that means so much to social animals like humans need? It conjures up the emotional need to cry, to mope, to physically act pained despite the absence of obvious injuries.

I think that’s a big part of the “strong people aren’t supposed to cry” slant in cultures. The desire to hide sadness and sorrow comes from the desire to be totally self-reliant. To allow those emotions purchase in the facade we project to the world signifies that we need something that we can’t do for ourselves. We admit vulnerability and the need to rely on other people, at least briefly.

Here’s a fascinating study on cultural differences of grief and sorrow, albeit channeled through a single film:


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HSqLr8dA3wo
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:39 AM
 
12,677 posts, read 14,059,781 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homina12 View Post
....
So if you share my admittedly simple explanation regarding how emotions work, or if you can look at them through that lens, where does sorrow fit?
If I were to go along with this reasoning, I would say the purpose of sorrow is to relieve negative emotions about events and allow the person to move. And moving on is the point of life, like it or not.

We abort the spontaneity of life by holding onto emotions and endlessly mentally masturbating with them.
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