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Why is it beneficial to express emotions?

Why is it beneficial to express emotions?

May 28, 2024

In the last two decades, the rise in the study of the nature of emotions and the relevance of their proper management for the psychological well-being of the human being has been justified by innumerable investigations, initiated by authors such as Peter Salovey and John Mayer or Daniel Goleman Thus, currently the construct of emotional intelligence is approached and included by most of the branches of psychology (clinical, educational, sports, organizational, etc.) as one of the basic components to reach a higher level more easily of personal efficacy.

Let's expose, then, what is the relationship between the two phenomena: Why is it important to know how to express and manage emotions?


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What are the emotions for?

In general, emotions present three fundamental functions that allow humans to adapt more competently to the environment in which they are interacting. Thus, they present first a communicative function, from which it is possible to let others know how you feel yourself and, from that, to be able to discern what psychological needs that individual may present.

Secondly, emotions regulate one's own behavior and that of others, as it exists a very close link between the individual emotional state and the type of behavioral response issued.


Finally, emotions strongly affect the process of social interaction, allowing you to perceive more effectively the particularities of the interpersonal environment where the subject is developing, allowing him to reach a higher level of intellectual and emotional psychological growth.

Functions of basic emotions

Paul Ekman established six so-called basic emotions, since in his investigations made from the non-verbal language analysis (facial gestures) of individuals from different cultures showed how expressions of joy, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise were common and, therefore, unconscious, innate and universal. All of them present a considerable utility based on the three general functions mentioned above but what type of message or information does each of them transmit?


1. Joy

Joy becomes a facilitator of interpersonal interaction since the social nature of the human being, according to the preservation of one's own survival, tends to approach what produces a sense of well-being (social relations) and to flee from the stimuli that cause the opposite effect.

In addition, joy is an enhancer in the achievement of deeper objectives and vital projects, since It serves as motivational activator and promotes the individual to take action .

2. The sadness

It is the emotion that is experienced before the loss of a valuable and significant object for the individual. This kind of event causes feelings of grief, failure, remorse, etc. that must be processed and assimilated gradually. Thus, sadness is useful for the activation of processes such as introspection, awareness or expressions of support for the other. It could be understood as a sign of "energy saving" from which an adequate elaboration of the duel that has generated the object of such loss is possible.

3. The rage

It is about the reaction produced by situations in which the individual perceives obstacles with respect to a specific established goal . Thus, the person feels that he must preserve integrity and defend himself, another individual / s or some other specific phenomenon. In this sense, the emotion of anger indicates that there is a potential danger that must be faced and overcome.

4. Fear

It is the warning issued by our mind before the perception of a potential danger which can compromise one's physical or psychological survival. Such a threat can be real (going full speed down a dimly lit road) or imagined (fear of being fired from work).

This type of notice allows the person to prepare a specific response . Unlike the previous one, fear has a connotation of avoiding suffering the effects of the threat instead of orienting oneself to confronting it openly.

5. The disgust

This is the emotion that is more linked to more organic aspects since the message that is intended to send is to protect the subject before the intake of food or harmful substances or, at least unpleasant, for it. So, is related more to a biological level than to the psychological .

6. The surprise

It implies the experience of an unexpected circumstance for which the person needs to gather his own resources and prepare himself for the action. It is a neutral emotion since its momentary nature has no pleasant or unpleasant meaning in itself.

The benefits of expressing emotions

As has been observed, the experience of each and every one of the emotions described above has an adaptive function for the human being. In this is the inherent characteristic of communicating with the environment, so one of the first reasons that underlies the need to master the competence of emotional management lies in the fact of not losing this communicative and adaptive ability.

It can be concluded, therefore, that the problematic element does not reside in the manifestation and experience of the emotion itself, but rather that the phenomenon causing the emotional distress in which the person is immersed is the degree of intensity of that emotion and the type of management that is carried out on it.

When an emotion prevents the individual from remaining conscious in the present moment and in the reality that surrounds him at that precise moment, it is usually when greater emotional affectations are derived. That is, when emotion "kidnaps" the mind and transports it out of the present, the thread of the rational, the logical or the authentic is often lost.

According to the Salovey and Mayer Model (1997) on emotional intelligence, emotions are understood as skills that can be learned. These skills consist of emotional perception, emotional understanding, facilitation of thoughts and regulation of emotions . It could be said that the first of these abilities greatly favors the development of the others, since a previous objective to consolidate becomes the competence in knowing how to identify and express one's own and others' emotions.

From this milestone, the processes of analyzing and giving meaning to emotions (comprehension ability), the integration between cognitions and emotions which guides the subject to attend to the most relevant contextual information for decision making (facilitation of thoughts) and the promotion of intellectual-emotional knowledge or the scope of adaptive equilibrium with respect to pleasant / unpleasant emotions (emotional regulation) become more easily affordable

Damages of the resistance to express emotions

The absence of competition in the four indicated skills can lead the individual to adopt emotionally dysfunctional functioning dynamics, that is, based on the aforementioned emotional "kidnapping". Said repertoire is characterized by the following manifestations, according to three levels of action:

1. At the cognitive level

Inability to describe and observe the present experience (self and others) in the absence of unfair or excessive judgments and criticisms about externalized emotion; incompetence in the understanding of the cause that motivates that emotion and the type of information that can be extracted as personal learning.

This point is related to the use of a type of irrational or distorted cognitive reasoning with respect to the expressed emotion.

  • Related article: "Cognitive processes: what exactly are they and why do they matter in Psychology?"

2. Emotionally

Difficulty in finding the balance between resistance to emotion and emotional overreaction in the face of potentially destabilizing situations; inefficiency for transform the meaning given to unpleasant emotions (initially negative) in a more accepting perspective, promoting a greater tolerance to discomfort.

Both the attitude of suppressing emotions (especially the unpleasant ones) and emitting them in an uncontrolled and excessive way are equally harmful to the individual.

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3. At the behavioral level

Impossibility to self-control the issuance of an impulsive or hasty response that difficult the proper management of the concrete situation ; deficiency in the ability to differentiate what kind of emotional consequences the person will experience in the short and long term, which usually tend to be mitigated or modified over time.

Behavior guided behaviorally by an incorrectly managed emotion can cause the aggravation of the experience increasing the discomfort generated initially.

In conclusion

It has been proven in the text the essential character that presents an adequate level of emotional competence to promote the psychological well-being of the human being.

One of the prerequisites to consolidate this ability lies in the ability to know how to identify and express one's emotions, understanding them as "warnings" that alert the individual to an experience or event that must be attended psychologically as a priority. On the contrary, repression or resistance to emotions can lead to significant damage at the psychic level .


How to Process Your Emotions (May 2024).


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