Emotion and personal identity By Adunke Olatunji

Emotion is described as strong feeling deriving from one’s mood, circumstances or relationships with others. It is pertinent to remind ourselves emotion could be positive or negative, depending on the condition. Also, identifying who you are influences the outcome of our feelings.

Although each of us is profoundly influenced by our/ surrounding society and social relationships, we are also unique individuals. We respond to
life’s problems and circumstances quite differently from anyone else. This
capacity is a reflection of our personal identity and allows us to experience life in a way that is distinct from others. It enables us to have our own unique ‘take’ on the world.

However, the conflict between having to conform with what is expected of us, but also wanting to do this in our own way often makes us feel at odds with ourselves, with other people or even by social institutions like school and work. Personal identity is always caught up in, and constantly emerges from, this tension between fitting in with society and other people (especially those with whom we are intimate) and wanting to follow our own desires, hopes and wishes.


Each of us has different levels and types of awareness and perception – practical, emotional, self-protective and so on that shape our views of ourselves, the world and other people. This allows us to respond to situations and problems in terms of our own unique sense of who we are, usually in a manner that offers the ‘best’ side of ourselves to other people. Of course, things don’t always go well, or at least in the way we anticipate and as a result, this unintentionally contributes to life’s ‘rich tapestry’.

The problem is that we are all emotionally needy but each of us has
different patterns of need. We all require a certain amount of love, care and
attention. We need to feel we belong, that we are accepted, that we are
valued and that other people need us as much as we need them. That is,
a basic level of need must be met in order for us to feel self-confident, and secure about dealing with other people and life’s problems. However, the
balance in our needs and desires shifts constantly both in terms of longterm personal development as well as in relation to everyday problems and events. We must have a basic level of inner security otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do anything properly, but at various times we also feel pangs of

The extent of the insecurity is the key. We might feel insecure about whether we are loveable, whether we have enough confidence, our ability to make things happen, or to turn bad circumstances around. Usually such feelings are short-lived and only occur in certain situations,
such as going on a first date with someone, or attending a job interview.

However, some individuals live their whole lives in state of chronic insecurity that restricts their ability to do things and to enjoy themselves to the
fullest extent. Why is this?

To enjoy a satisfying life you must be able to translate your wishes, hopes,
desires and needs into reality. This requires that you are able to manage
and deal with other people so that they naturally provide you with the things you need most, whatever they may be: love, companionship, attention, care, a sense of purpose, feelings of elation and joy and so on.

To accomplish this, you have to sensitively ‘read’ other people for their moods, attitudes and preferences and then act upon this information in
a way that meshes with your own needs and desires. Of course this isn’t
a one-way street.

You cannot afford to be totally selfish otherwise people will refuse to cooperate.
An important rule of social life here, is that of reciprocity. You must offer something back in exchange for what you desire. But for true personal satisfaction there has to be more than mere exchange. There must be genuine emotional commitment to the other person. You must take account of their interests, wishes, needs and desires in the way that you deal with them.

In short, you must be able to benignly control, influence and direct the other people in your life so that they satisfy your emotional needs and desires while, at the same time, they satisfy their own by doing the same with you. In this sense the smooth working of personal relationships depends on mutual being control. Of course, much of social life is not smooth and trouble free. This is because the delicate balancing involved in mutual benign control often breaks down either abruptly, or through slow deterioration.

When this happens the essential empathy, care and mutual cooperation of being influence becomes displaced by selfishness, and manipulation. Emotional
blackmail is a common example of such psychological manipulation.

The blackmailer says, in effect, ‘if I don’t get my way and you don’t comply,
then I’ll withdraw my love, care and support for you’. An ultimatum like
this may seem effective in the short term, but since it is based on emotional
manipulation, it often produces a brittle and merely outward show of
consent in its human ‘target’.
Experiencing life and personal identity
Many relationship problems hinge around.

©️Adunke Olatunji

Published By: EDITOR

CARL UMEGBORO is a prolific writer, public affairs analyst and an Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB Hons) and a renowned columnist in all national newspapers in Nigeria, Africa Press Reviews, TheWorldNEWS and numerous foreign media including Park Chester Times, New York, USA. Umegboro is a regular guest-analyst to many TV and radio programme on crucial national issues. To send your opinions, articles and reports to the Admin, contact: +234 (0) 802 318 4542, +234 (0) 705 710 1974, +234 (0) 817 318 4542. Email: carl@carlumegboro.com, umegborocarl@gmail.com

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