I wonder what makes people wonder what the strongest, most powerful emotion is!
I guess, maybe, somewhere deep down people (with this question) think that by finding out this one specific emotion they may be able to figure out their emotions, or at least narrow down the emotional work needed.
And, who knows, maybe they’re right. Maybe finding this powerful human emotion might actually help us in understanding our emotions better.
Let’s find out, shall we?
Now, if you’re in a hurry your answer is right below this paragraph. However, if you’re keen to understand how exploring this question might just change your life’s perspective then continue reading beyond the highlighted answer!
The strongest, most powerful human emotion in the world is neither fear nor anger nor happiness nor love. It’s the unconditionality. And this unconditionality usually finds itself love, thus, making it Unconditional Love. You may not like hearing it, and it may very well be difficult to achieve 100% unconditional love a 100% of the time, but just because you don’t like something or it’s difficult doesn’t make it untrue, now does it?
Alright, now that you already know the concluded answer, let’s see how and why I’ve written what I’ve written above!
Is Fear The Strongest Emotion?
I would say, yes, 100%, fear is a very strong emotion. In fact, I believe it’s the root emotion of any and all other emotions you might find yourself struggling with. If you want to know how it’s at the root of all difficult emotions, read this.
Fear is an extremely potent driver of our actions, or rather reactions because it’s vital for survival. Anytime the mind perceives a threat, it doesn’t waste time analyzing it. It does whatever needs to be done to stay alive!
Now, whether the threat is real or not is a different conversation for a different time. The point here is that when our mind perceives a threat as real, fear takes charge.
Once fear takes charge, it overrides everything else! It’s what Daniel Goleman calls Amygdala Hijack where the amygdala, or the reptilian brain, overpowers rational brain function.
So, is fear the strongest emotion? I’d say, yes, it’s the strongest emotion as it can overpower all our rational thinking!
However, is it the most powerful emotion?
I’d agree with Hal Runkel, who in his article What’s More Powerful Than Fear? hints at something that’s more powerful than fear, though he doesn’t really say what it is!
I’ll carry his baton, at least for now, and not reveal right away what’s more powerful than fear! Let’s unpack one thing at a time, and see where we end up! What say?!
Try not to skip to the end!
Primary Defense Mechanism
This quiz helps you understand how you typically respond to emotional overwhelm and stress by identifying your primary defense mechanism.
Internet’s Most Powerful: The Emotion of Anger
According to a 2013 USA Today article, a Chinese social network similar to Twitter had concluded anger to be “the most influential emotion in online interactions.”
Could anger then be the most powerful of them all?
No doubt, anger can be one of the most destructive emotions there ever was! However, the question to ask ourselves is: What brings out anger?
It could be humiliation, a sense of injustice, or to protect oneself or someone else. What do you think is behind humiliation, injustice, and protection?
The need for safety, and the fear of not being safe.
So, I’d say, anger is potentially the most destructive emotion, but clearly, not the most powerful as it stems from fear which itself is not the most powerful emotion!
Marketing’s Most Powerful: The Emotion of Happiness
When thinking about power, happiness may not be the first thing to strike you!
However, Oliver Yonchev makes a strong case in a Business Insider article that while fear is a powerful emotion, “it’s not a sensible emotion for brands to focus their long-term marketing efforts around.”
He refers to a study that found positive emotional narrative-based content gets shared more than negative ones. In other words, content that creates happiness, in general, is preferred to fear-evoking stimuli.
In fact, if you look at advertisements you’ll notice that companies that seem to do well are companies that focus on the feel-good factor of happiness in one way or the other.
So then, do we have our answer? Is it happiness? Is happiness the most powerful emotion?
What happens when you ask the question: “But isn’t happiness so fleeting?” Can an emotion so fleeting be the most powerful one? I’d say, maybe not.
What About Gratitude As The Most Powerful Emotion?
“Gratitude is one of the most powerful human emotions. Once expressed, it changes attitude, brightens outlook, and broadens our perspective.”
Well, one, she herself says in the quote above that gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions, and not the most powerful one.
Two, my question here would be, what enables us to feel gratitude? Would a person full of hatred or anger or fear feel gratitude? What might be the base emotion that allows gratitude to walk in?
We’re red hot now – very close to our answer!
Is Love The Most Powerful Emotion?
Alright. Yes, it is love! Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging – I’ll explain how and why it’s love. Also, it’s not romantic Romeo-Juliet love. It’s a different form of love.
No, I don’t have anything against Romeo-Juliet kind of love – I’ve loved that kind of love, I’ve been in that kind of love. However, such love has two characteristics.
One, it’s very intense. Two, it’s very “attached” – can’t live without the other type. The problem with these characteristics is that intensity cannot last long, and attachment eventually leads to suffering.
I’m not even talking about maternal love because after a point that too becomes dependent on attachment and expectations.
The love I’m talking about here has a word that might make some of you groan! Any guesses?
Yup, it’s the unconditional-kinda-love. I told you, I know some of you are groaning! Unconditional love is so impractical, I hear you say!
Don’t get your you-know-what in a bunch yet! Hear me out on this.
The only way you can have absolute unconditionalness in love is when you feel absolutely safe and secure in whatever is such that nothing creates any sense of scarcity or fear of losing or rejection in you.
How on earth does one reach such a state – no scarcity mindset, no fear-driven thoughts, and actions?!
Well, that’s another conversation, and if you’re curious about it right now then go read about the Whole View Method.
As for our conversation here, and the impracticality of unconditionalness, here’s a thought: while you may not have experienced forever unconditional love, I bet you that you would have felt moments of unconditional love for someone (romantic and/ or platonic).
How did that moment feel? If you could take yourself back to that moment you’ll notice a few things: an expansiveness within you, a sense of love that transcends your object of love, and deep gratitude and inner joy that is full of contentment.
Wow. I just re-read the statement above. You re-read it too. If you’ve never felt a moment of what’s described above, you my friend need to risk falling in love!
If you have, then you know exactly what I mean. Now here’s my question to you – if we can feel moments of such unconditionalness, do you think it’s not possible to expand the moments into our state of being?
I’m not saying it’ll be easy-peasy, but would it be so unthinkable? I doubt it.
I don’t feel such unconditional love all the time. But I am, with practice, able to feel it in moments every now and then. And all I can tell you is – it’s the most beautiful, loving power there ever was.
Unconditional Love is the strongest, most powerful emotion in the world because all other emotions are transformed by it as it soothes them all with its unconditionality!
Some people, like psychologist Elaine Hatfield, might call it Compassionate Love, as Dan Bolton mentions in his article. Call it what you may, its characteristics remain the same – it’s unconditional, expansive, and leads to gratitude, joy, and a sense of stable happiness (also called contentment).
I want to close out this article in a different way from most other articles I write. I’m not going to share a point-by-point summary of the article because the basic crux here is that Unconditional Love is the most powerful human emotion there is!
I want to conclude this article by saying that Unconditional Love is going to be a forever journey. I believe that’s how it’s supposed to be. We live our lives so heavily conditioned even before we’re born, in fact, if I dare say, even before we’re conceived! And so, it’s only reasonable to be unconditionally loving with yourself as you walk this path of unconditionality. Remember, every single step you take is a step forward even when it doesn’t feel like that in some not-so-great moments.
As always, I would love to hear from you how this piece landed with you. Please share any thoughts, comments, and questions in the box below!