Emotion (e-motion) is energy to move.
It’s intended to help us deal with threats and get what we want and need.
At some point, everyone generates a dysfunctional amount of emotion. That means:
- more than is necessary or helpful
- more than we want to have
- more than we know what to do with
- a type and amount that works against us instead of for us as emotion is intended to.
Being responsible (response-able) means being able to respond to situations in the best possible ways.
As we turn our emotional thermostat up, we become increasingly more reactive and less response-able – our behavioral thermostat follows.
It’s said that there’s two ways to make a situation you don’t like worse, do nothing, and overreact to it. Too often people do that latter because they generate more emotion than is necessary or helpful.
There are real threats out there, but the reason people generate a dysfunctional amount of emotion is that human beings have a tendency to imagine threats where they don’t exist and to magnify ones that are out of proportion to reality.
Many people struggle with anxiety and anger. Many even have anxiety disorders and anger problems.
Anxiety is called a figment of imagination because it’s about things that could happen but haven’t happened yet and often never do. Anxiety is the flight half of our fight or flight response.
Anxiety often morphs into anger (the fight half) in response to a perceived threat. However, it all stems from perceiving threats where they don’t exist or magnifying ones that are out of proportion to reality.
Three ways people imagine or manufacture threats where they don’t exist or magnify ones that might out of proportion to reality.
- They wrongly see what others say and do, and what happens as the literal cause of how they feel. That’s not how life really works. What others say and do is just an event in our lives. It’s what we choose to think about such events that really determines how we feel. We’ll talk about that in Tool 3.
- We all have a symbolic self. The symbolic self is the person we want to be and be seen as by others. Criticism or name-calling from others gets perceived as a threat to our symbolic self. The brain treats a threat to the symbolic self the same as one to life and limb. It’s a second way we imagine threats where they don’t exist. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. Turns out that old adage is true.
- A third way we create threats where they don’t exist or magnify ones out of proportion to reality is by the way we choose to look at things. For example, if we want something and don’t get it, that will be perceived as a threat. However, if we think we need it, and demand it, the perceived threat will be much bigger if or when we don’t get what we want. We’ll talk about ways we think that create or exacerbate perceived threats in Tool 4.
The goal of doing this work is called GETTING better.
There are a lot of ways to temporarily feel better. Some are healthy (exercise, yoga, meditation), others are not (smoking, drinking, using drugs).
Getting better means permanently reducing the frequency, intensity, and duration of troublesome emotions.
The only way to GET better is to change the way you think.
We all have much more control over our emotional thermostat and emotional destiny (how we’ll feel in the next few seconds, minutes, hours, etc) than we realize. We are going to show you how to acquire that control.