What are emotions?
The Oxford defines emotion as “Any agitation or disturbance of mind, feeling, passion; any vehement or excited mental state.”
It seems that most emotional states are chemically mediated within our brains, and it also seems that there are patterns we can learn that can promote or dampen those chemical systems within our brains.
Our brains have evolved over millions of generations to allow us to survive in various sorts of social groups.
At some stages in our evolution we have been in social groups that are dominance hierarchies.
At other stages in our evolution we have lived in highly cooperative social groups.
We have chemical systems that support both modes of existence.
We can learn to cultivate or suppress either mode.
We can learn other modes.
We are extremely complex entities, with many different systems, and usually we are not aware of the functioning of most of those systems.
Some of those systems have mechanisms that allow them to take control in certain situations – extreme pain or anger are reasonably common examples that most of us have experienced.
So it is a really complex topic, at the level of biochemistry, at the level of neurophysiology, at the level of psychology, at the level of culture, and at the many higher levels of awareness that one can cultivate with much practice (including contemplative disciplines, logic, higher mathematics and many others that have no common names).
Each level, each set of subsystems, has connections and influences to all other levels.
It really is, very, very complex.