- "The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions". Donald Calne
- "I have talked about choosing rather than acting from compulsion. When you feel that you have to live according to someone else's direction or live so that you never disappoint or hurt anybody, then your life is a continual assessment of whether or not you please other people". Virginia Satir
Is there any question about the power of emotions? I think not. After all, you don’t have to live very long as a human being to know that your emotions represent a very powerful resource within you. The very term itself, “emotion” speaks about the motion that is present— motion that is directed to move you out (ex-, e-motion) from where you are to somewhere else. That’s become an emotion is “an action tendency” in your neurology.
No wonder then that there’s energy within your emotions— energy to move you to continue doing what is working and energy to move you to stop, look, and listen and change what is not working. Generally speaking, we call the emotional energy that moves us to continue a “positive” emotion and we call the emotional energy that moves us to stop or slow down a “negative” emotion. This corresponds to your neurology. After all, you and I have two kinds of nerve impulses— those that are excitatory and those that are inhibitory. In the excitatory nerve impulses which excite you and move you to continue to do more of what you’re doing, you feel positive. In the inhibitory nerve impulses which interrupt the excitatory processes, and moves you to hold back, to reconsider what you are doing, you feel “negative.”
When you feel your emotions you are feeling the meanings that you have created. That is, the meaning constructions that you’ve created in your thinking, cognizing, valuing, understanding, believing, deciding, appraising, identifying, etc., you now are somatizing. Soma refers to your body and when you transfer your thoughts to your body, you translate from mind into muscle or neurology. This is somatizing— incorporating your meanings in your body.
This explains why, and how, every emotion makes sense. Every emotion that you experience, you created in your body. It is a function of your meaning-making. It makes sense and is right— right to the mental mapping that you are operating from. In this sense, there are no “wrong” emotions. Of course, your emotions can be unproductive. They can be mis-informed; they can be fallacious, erroneous, and unhelpful, but they are always “right.”
And if every emotion is right, makes sense, then you have no need to deny the emotion, resist the emotion, repress it, or get angry at yourself for it. Instead, meta-state the emotion with acceptance so that you simply an non-emotionally just acknowledge what you are feeling. Do that and you will find that you will begin experiencing the emotion as “just an emotion.” In other words, you stop yourself from over-loading the emotion with too much meaning or turning against yourself because of the emotion.
In Neuro-Semantics when you turn against an emotion, we say that you are creating unresourceful “dragon” states. If you hate your anger, if you despise your fear, if youfear your ambition, and so on, you are first of all fighting against an emotion that you created in your meaning constructions and therefore preventing yourself from understanding yourself, your thoughts, your values and judgments, etc. And you are then meta-stating another layer or frame above the particular emotion and thereby texturing it with energy against yourself. In the end, this creates conflict within you so that you create another level of a problem. (This is the subject of the book, Dragon Slaying, 2000).
The meta-stating solution is to accept every emotion, acknowledge it for what it is,curiously explore how you have created it and what it means in your system, and then decide the best way to respond to it. This describes the basic Meta-Stating Emotions pattern that occurs in APG and other Neuro-Semantic trainings and is the foundation for emotional intelligence as it enables you to detect, monitor, and manage your emotions.
Now the power of emotions is basically the power to feel, to be real, to be motivated, and to experience vitality. Pretty important reasons to accept and appreciate your emotions. When you try to not feel some emotion and end up using some ego-defense mechanism like repression to make the emotion go away, you dampen your feelings, authenticity, motivation, and vitality. This also can create distorted emotions like depression.
For example, the emotion of sadness is a “negative” emotion designed to enable you to register loss, come to terms with that loss, and experience the motivation to replace what has been lost. But if you are sad about your sadness, or angry at yourself for the loss, or afraid of the experience of loss— you could create a distorted emotion called “depression.” Now you are “pressing” “down” your energies, hopes, dreams, desires, activities, etc. You are de-pressing yourself.
The solution? Get ready for what might seem like a paradox: Accept the depression andcuriously find out what frame (meaning) that you have given the original emotion, then accepting that emotion (whether sadness, loss, self-despising, etc.), identify a more appropriate meaning frame. “Loss is natural and inevitable, just a part of life.” “Loss is a call for change.”
If you find yourself without energy— with no motivation, vitality, drive, etc., identify a context where this occurs and begin to “climb your meaning ladder” (layers of meta-states or logical levels) to find out the meanings that you have been somatizing. “What does this X mean to you?” “Let’s say that’s true, so what? What would that mean?” Continue this line of questioning and meta-questioning until you identify the matrix of your frames. Now you are at choice point! (Empowerment series #9).
Emotions— your biological, neurological engine for motivation, for vitality, for power! If this is new, get Secrets of Personal Mastery, or Dragon Slaying, or get yourself to an APG training somewhere in the world!
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
Everyone as best as he can!
Everyone as best as he can!