This is the third and final post in this series covering the four steps of the Emotional Mastery Cycle (EMC).
Step #1 called your attention to the importance of being aware of how your emotions manifest themselves physically in your body and reminded you that you needed to learn, or become aware of, how your emotions communicate with you.
Step #2 discussed the role of the emotional action readiness in preparing your body to take directed action against a perceived threat and cautioned that, while our emotions prepare us to face survival based threats, most of our threats, today, are psychological in nature. Consequently, we need to manage our action readiness and lower our energy level.
Your management efforts involve two steps both of which were discussed. These steps were to take a deep breath and take a physical step back from the threat.
Finally, the discussion of Step #2 noted that managing the emotional process only occurs in Step #2 as emotional mastery is our goal and gave you the reasons for this.
In this post, I will discuss the final two steps of the EMC…
Step #3: Understand the message of each emotion and assess the match between your emotion and the situation in which you find yourself.
As I’ve discussed in several earlier posts, each emotion communicates a different message based on the nature of the “threat” that is perceived and the physical preparation needed to deal with that “threat”.
Emotional mastery involves understanding this message by reading your body (step #1) and using this information assess your situation. Your assessment involves comparing the actual nature of the threat with your initial perception (as manifested in the message of the emotion).
Here are some examples of the messages of specific emotions:
- Anger: The threat is real and you can eliminate it by throwing enough force at it. Anger prepares you for war.
- Anxiety: Anxiety is a future based emotion. There is a possible threat which could have severe negative consequences. Anxiety prepares you to either freeze or take the necessary steps to prevent the threat from happening.
- Sadness: Sadness informs you that you have sustained a significant loss. Sadness prepares you to withdraw, heal your wounds, and move on.
- Fear: Fear is a here and now emotion which tells you that you are facing an eminent threat that will significantly harm you. Fear prepares you to escape.
- Joy: Joy, or happiness, informs you that you are facing a situation which brings you pleasure. Joy prepares you to engage.
- Here is a link to a post on Jealousy and envy.
- Here is a link to a post on Guilt and Shame.
In comparing the actual situation with the perceived threat, you need to ask some important questions. And, you need to remain open to the answers.
Some examples of questions to ask….
About the situation
- What do I believe is going on here?
- How would an independent observer view this situation?
- Have I possibly misunderstood what was said/done?
- Could I be missing something here?
- If I am correct in my assessment of the threat, what is the real risk to me, if any, of this threat?
About Your Feelings
- Does the intensity of my feelings match the situation?
- Do I have several feelings I need to consider?
- What are my options for expressing my feelings?
- Are there “display” issues I need to consider?
About the Other Person
- What interpretations or judgements am I making about the other person and what he/she is doing?
- How does the other person perceive what is going on?
- What is the other person trying to accomplish here?
- Could his/her actions be the result of a lack of ability to express his/her needs in a more appropriate way?
About What You Can Do
- What actions can I take to possibly defuse the threat?
- What actions do I want to take?
- What are the consequences of each option?
- What result am I hoping for?
- What if I do nothing?
Other Important Links
- Here is a link to a post which discusses the advantages of asking “What” vs “Why“.
- Here is a link to a post which discusses what questions to ask when you get angry. There are questions about the situation, your own anger, the other person’s anger and your response.
You may have to solicit input from both the other person in the interaction or a third party to get the information you need.
Once you are satisfied that your assessment is complete in that you have as close to an objective view of what is going on in your situation as you can get, you are ready to move on to Step #4.
Step #4: Choose and implement an adaptive response.
Based on your assessment of your situation, you can make a plan to adaptively deal with what is going on.
An adaptive response is one that improves your situation and, as much as possible, that of the other person you are dealing with.
Finally, you can implement your plan.
Note: I hope this series has been helpful to you. If it has, please help me reach more people with this free resource by recommending and including links to this blog in your emails and social media.