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  • Writer's pictureMaria Alda Gomez Otero

Can our emotional life have an impact on the planet?

Most of us think that first come our thoughts and then our being or our emotions. This is because a lot of our scientific understanding is based on French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist Réné Descartes’ (1596-1650) words: Cogito, ergo sum (I think therefore I am). Another well-known French philosopher, however, Jean Paul Sartre posited the opposite statement: “I am, therefore I think.” This created a debate among philosophical schools.

I feel, therefore I am

When we are presented with a threat, this dilemma acquires a new dimension: a person’s areas of the brain linked to emotion are activated before the cognitive areas of the brain, according to research with brain scans. Something like “I feel, therefore I am” would be thus more appropriate. In our society, we are constantly presented with “potential threats” (climate change, financial collapse, terrorism, unemployment, domestic violence...). So chances are that we are first feeling and then thinking. However, when we are facing a threat, our thinking brains do not function at its best, so we can’t make the best judgment of a particular situation. It is only when our emotional and thinking brains work together that we can make the best decisions, for ourselves and for our planet.

Emotional self-regulation

In order to face all the challenges that our world is facing, it is important that all of us, human beings, will become masters of regulating our emotions, learning from them, and paying attention to their impact on our thinking. We currently need to make important decisions concerning our planet. If we let fear overwhelm us, our brains will not work at its best. From now on, working on improving our emotional well-being, reducing our stress levels, so that our brains are more apt to face the challenges ahead is paramount. If we make better decisions on a small scale, that will have implications at a larger scale.

Self-awareness exercise

To start learning how to regulate your emotions, I suggest a self-awareness exercise. Read a piece of negative news in the press and notice the impact of the words on your emotions, including body sensations. And then read the poem below and notice whether it has the same impact or a different one. Start learning how different your sensations feel depending on your situation; notice how you can come in and out of pleasant and unpleasant emotions, just by reading a text. This will teach you that self-regulation is within your reach. Enjoy discovering how you can change your emotional world. Notice the impact on your emotions of the following:

people around you,

the news,


a song you love,

a violent movie,



Get to know yourself better.

Now, here is the small exercise. Read this poem and notice how you feel afterwards.

How to enjoy life

Stay loose

Learn to watch snails

Plant impossible gardens

Make little signs that say “YES” and post them round your house

Make friends with uncertainty

Cry during films

Take lots of naps

Believe in magic

Laugh a lot

Celebrate every gorgeous moment of life

Take moonbaths

Have wild imaginings and transformative dreams

Cultivate perfect calmness

Giggle with children

Bless yourself and everyone else you meet

Entertain your inner child

Build a fortress with blankets

Hug the universe and write love letters often


© Alda Counselling - Exeter & Teignmouth

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