It's a funny old thing emotion. The word emotion is derived from the Latin "exmovere". Literally translated it means "an energy that moves". Thus - emotion is an energy in motion.

One of the strangest things about the human species is that the older we get the more try to control (and in particular) suppress - our emotions. Perhaps this has something to do with being a "civilised" species - perhaps it is this supression of emotion that actually characterises us as being civilised!

To drive the point home - from the moment a human is born into the world - there is no control of emotion - the fear of a newborn is instantly expressed in the crying. As the human child grows - emotion manifests in many more and varied ways - hapiness, excitement, sadness, depression, anger, fear etc. - you all remember being a child and being a lot more reckless with emotions than you are now.

What triggered this whole thought-thread on emotion was this: I was walking back to the office from the a lunchtime visit to the the sandwhich shop when I noticed the laces on one of my shoes had come undone. As I stooped down to do it back up - a complete stranger, quite by surprise to me, placed his hand on my shoulder. My internal reaction was one of intense fear. A rapid build-up of fear and numbness that shot through me in an instant. My external reaction was, however, very different. I calmly looked around and gently rose back upright and gestured in a gentlemanly fashion "what can I do for you?". It turns out that the stranger was a drunken man who was requesting any spare change - quite oblivious to the fact that he had just caused my entire body to be charged-up to the point of exploding.

Anyway - I sent him on is way - and as calmly as I could made my way back to the office - heart still thumping but numbness wearing away slowly. I had just experienced a major suppression of the external effect of the basic animal instinct of being prepared to protect myself to survive injury or death. In this case, the emotions associated with fear and uncertainty were overpowered by emotions associated with dignity and risk of embrassment or over-reaction. (I sure would have looked stupid if I'd have lashed out and socked the drunken man on the chin!)

This is the same sort of behaviour that causes parents to volunteer their own death or injury in return for the protection of life of their children. In cases like this - it is the emotions associated with love of the child that overpower the emotions associated with impending death.

It is perhaps this very unique (and perhaps unconcious) management of conflicting emotions that defines the success of the human species.

What is even more interesting though is this: the more aware you become of emotions and the way in which they influence your behaviour - the more you realise that every interaction with every other human is determined by the way in which we handle conflicting emotions. Every interaction and behaviour in the office, or over the phone, or by email with every other human is characterised by a conflict of emotions - either within self - or between colleagues.