This my 201st and first post of 2022.
Going into 2022, for your convenience, I have made it very easy for you to access all of my previous posts with 3 clicks.
- Clicking on the INDEX tab above will give you a drop down menu of the categories under which my posts are listed.
- Clicking on the CATEGORY will give you a list of all the posts in that category.
- You then can click on the specific TITLE and you will be redirected to the post you want.
It is that simple.
And, now, the Emotional Mastery Cycle (EMC)…
The main underlying message in all of my posts is that everyone can learn to master their emotions as strategic tools.
The process of mastering emotions is described by the emotional mastery cycle.
While it is a little more complicated in its entirety, the emotional mastery cycle (EMC) can be summarized in 4 steps.
In the next three posts, I will discuss the EMC in detail.
My goal is to provide you with the information you need to, at the very least, begin to master your emotions in 2022.
The 4 steps are:
- manage your own readiness
- understand the message of each emotion and assess the match between your emotion and the situation in which you find yourself
- choose an adaptive response
Step 1 of the EMC: Self-awareness
Basically, all emotions start with your subconsciously scanning your surroundings.
When a threat is perceived, it is automatically labelled an “emotionally significant” event (ESE) because it represents an event that is important to you for some reason. Importance could involve a physical or psychological threat or a situation which commands your attention because it is interesting, engaging or unique.
It is important to note that you determine the criteria for labelling an event as a threat. You also need to know that you may, or may not, be immediately aware of those criteria.
Physical (or survival based) Threat
A physical threat could involve an assault on your body, or a situation involving pending or existent damage to your physical possessions, financial well-being. A physical threat is perceived as imperiling some aspect of your survival as an individual (or family). The threat may be actual or implied.
A psychological threat involves an actual or implied compromising of your values, your plans, your goals, your dreams, or your self-esteem/self-worth.
An ESE may be “real” in the sense that it is clearly identifiable by you or by an observer.
Or, it can be identifiable only by you.
The ESE may also be “real” only to you and exist only in your imagination.
The specific “status” of the ESE is irrelevant if the emotional part of your brain (your Amygdala) subconsciously recognizes and reacts to the an ESE and subconsciously elicits a physical reaction in your body.
This subconscious process is very fast, is outside of your awareness and is the basis for people (incorrectly) believing that their emotions control them.
The emotional process evolved to allow our cave ancestors to quickly react to a threat, which for those cave dwellers, was a survival based threat which would kill them.
Our cave dwelling ancestors didn’t have to master their emotions. They only needed to recognize a threat and take effective action. The reason for this is that all of the threats our ancestors faced were survival based. They either nullified the threat or they died.
You and I, however, are in a different situation. The threats we face today are usually psychological threats to our goals, our egos, our quality of life etc.
So, we need to master our emotions and this mastery process begins with self-awareness.
We need to learn to recognize, identify and label the physical reactions elicited by our subconscious.
In this post, I will help you navigate through Step 1 of the EMC.
Step 1 of the EMC: Self-awareness
In this post, I will help you begin to become aware of your physical reaction to an emotionally significant event.
Some people are keenly aware of their bodies. Others, not so much.
The physical changes in your body that may indicate an emotion include:
- the tightening of specific muscle groups,
- a change in perceived temperature in your body (hot or cold),
- an alteration in a “physical” system such as breathing,
- stomach churning
There can also be behavioral changes which can seem to spontaneously occur in reaction to an ESE. These changes include (but are not limited to):
- rate of thinking (increasing or decreasing) or
- a noticeable change in behavior that is not typical of you (there are examples below)
The goal is to become aware of any significant changes and be able to determine if there is a connection to a specific emotion.
Below are 4 exercises you can use to help you connect your physical reactions to specific emotions.
Exercises #1 is the most important so do that one first. After you’ve spent some time with #1, you can move on to #2, #3 and #4.
Exercise #1: Your Body-Your Reaction: A checklist
Take a moment and focus your attention on your body. Go through the checklist below and try to recall if this “body part” gives you any information that an emotion is trying to grab your attention.
(tightening or a headache)
(tears, tightening around the eyes)
(“forced” smiling, tightening, dryness, clenched teeth)
(any noticeable changes including speeding up, slowing down, shortness of breath or holding your breath)
(clenched, white knuckles, sweaty palms)
Changes in body temperature
(feeling cold, warm or hot)
Changes in energy level
(decrease or increase)
Changes in behavior
(actions that are not typical for you such as withdrawing from, clinging to, or becoming verbally or physically aggressive toward others, sleeping excessively, blaming others, self-harm, drug/alcohol abuse)
(it’s your body so you name the physical changes)
Try to recall (as vividly as possible) a situation in which you felt a specific emotion such as “stressed” (anxiety), angry, happy, sad, frustrated, guilty, or surprised. Imagine each emotion separately. As you “relive” each event, you may find your body reacting as it does when those feelings are present. Note any physical sensations you experience during this exercise.
Ask a friend who both knows you well and who you trust if they have ever noticed how you react when you experience the above emotions. Sometimes, others know us better than we know ourselves.
In real time as you experience an emotional event, try to connect the emotion, your body and the event.
Keep in mind that learning about your body involves new learning and takes both time and practice.
Once, you become adept at knowing how your body informs you that you are facing an emotional situation, you are now in a position to master your emotions as tools and strategically deploy those emotions to improve your life and your relationships.
You are ready to move on to Step #2 of the Emotional Mastery Cycle which I will cover in my next post.