UNDERSTAND AND MANAGE EMOTIONS
Emotions result from stimuli; in spite of this, depending on the situation, we will react in a variety of ways. In this, emotions are telltale signs of our perception of reality. Each emotion felt informs us as to the manner in which we understand life, ourselves, others, and the world.
Our body is endowed with emotional memory. All that constitutes our history, all of the emotions we have experienced since our conception, are recorded in the neurons, cells, tissues, nerves and muscles. Whether they were rejected or forgotten, they determine our reactions and our behavior here and now.
Emotions are complex reactions that mobilize the body and the spirit. They involve some subjectivity (anger, anxiety, love, joy, etc.), they push people into action (escape, attack, etc.), in a more or less obvious manner, and lead to a deep change within the body – increase in cardiac rhythm or in blood pressure. Some of these modifications prepare the body for actions of sustained adaptation. Other postures, gestures and facial expressions communicate to others what we feel or what we wish the person to believe.
The goal of The Emotional Coaching is to develop the concept of being conscious (or aware) of oneself. To identify and recognize one’s emotions is thus essential. “What I feel says who I am.” By the same token, “if I deny my emotion, if I forbid it, it is from me that I escape.” It is here that the concept of emotional intelligence takes roots. Emotions express the essential needs of the individual. To identify, recognize, express, respect one’s emotions, as well as those of others, is the royal path towards well-being.
THE PRINCIPAL TYPES OF EMOTIONS
The trigger to anger is our perception of a situation that we view as detrimental or menacing to us or to our loved ones, which goes against our ideas, our beliefs and our values. The purpose of anger is to defend ourselves against such a threat. Anger could have a positive effect. It can, for example, lead the other party into submission, which, in the short term, could be a benefit. It can inform the opponent as to the importance of what is at stake for us. Moreover, it can help us in becoming conscious of ourselves. Being angry could be satisfying, especially when there is no danger in doing so, or there are no long-term consequences. However, this is not always the case. Anger could also motivate us in developing our abilities, which we may need in demonstrating that we are right and the opponent is wrong.
Envy is coveting what another possesses. It is closely associated with the impression of being deprived. Possession becomes the key to allowing the coveter to feel appreciated and accepted. When believing the other person to be less worthy, the coveter cannot tolerate the other possessing something that should ultimately belong to him.
Jealousy is different from envy in that it is played out between three people. Someone has taken something that we consider as ours, more often than not, the affection of a third party.
The jealous individual has lost, or is in danger of losing a benefit, generally the affection of another.
Jealousy comprises a good part of anger. Jealousy could be based on real elements or on erroneous perceptions. Some people have an exaggerated need for love (a deficiency), which is stimulated when they believe that they are going to lose that love. Low self-esteem, associated with the doubt of being able to establish a relationship sufficiently satisfying to retain the partner, leads one to be more vulnerable to jealousy.
Sadness occurs when we realize that a loss is inevitable. Whether it is the loss of one’s job, lover, residence following a natural disaster, wealth, health, children leaving home or retirement, the acceptance of this loss takes time. Sadness often occurs after a period of fighting against the reality of the loss, accompanied, again often, by a combination of anger, anxiety, culpability and, sometimes, by shame, envy, jealousy and hope. Sadness is a condition of inactivity during which the person has abandoned the idea of being able to prevent or restore the loss.
Fear is associated with the perception of a threat against our personal safety and against our identity. However, it is related to a specific situation – a concrete and sudden danger to our physical well-being.
Guilt or culpability concerns moral failures. We compare our actions to internal standards against which we measure them. The person who feels guilty believes that he, or she, has transgressed a moral code, which had been accepted as part of the person’s values. People who feel guilty did not necessarily do something reprehensible. They only believe they did.
Guilt is a very useful emotion for society – it helps in promoting socially desirable behaviors.
Parents promote guilt when they punish their children for their transgressions, which are then interiorized to the point whereby the child becomes anxious if it does not comply with the family rules.
The sight of, or listening to, a loved one provokes an intense emotion. The fundamental fiber of love is associated with the desire of participating in an affective and physical intimacy, usually (but not necessarily) reciprocal. There are probably no human relations in our society that are socially more complex and delicate, and containing more emotional risks than that of searching for, and maintaining a loving relationship.
Disgust is the reaction to the prospect of digesting or to the excessive proximity of an indigestible object or idea (metaphorically). The person realizes that he, or she, is incapable of welcoming or integrating this element, which is considered to be toxic.
The person has a strong impulse, often innate, to avoid or to get rid of the offensive object. The object induces some reactions of avoidance, nausea and vomiting.
Shame is associated with a failure to attain our ideals or the ideals of others. As with guilt, it is a matter of comparison with the internal standards by which we measure ourselves. In this instance, it is a question of the ideal of “me” – of oneself. Our self-esteem is at stake in this comparison between what we are and what we would wish to be, what we should be. We note here that the internal standards are not the same for everyone. The ideals of some could seem amoral to others.
Some people deny their shame and attempt to transfer blame to someone else, which could lead to intense expressions of anger. Shame leads us to feel powerless and to consider ourselves as a bad person whereas anger is comprised of an active factor and a recovery of control. Some prefer that option.
Pride is provoked by an event, which we perceive as a confirmation or an amplification of our personal sense of valor. It is a question of increasing our personal sense of valor while taking credit for an action (an object) or the realization of something of value. This realization can be ours, or that of another person with whom we identify.
Shame is associated with failing to attain personal standards. Humility consists of recognizing our limitations. Pride, as opposed to these emotions, is associated with the success in attaining, or even surpassing these standards, and with the recognition of one’s worth and merit.
The individual understands that another human being, similar to him, suffers and deserves his help. Compassion leads to being touched by the suffering of others and the desire to assist them.
Empathy is a very important human capacity, which enables us to walk in another individual’s shoes, to relate to him, or her, fully and to demonstrate kindness toward the person. We can imagine ourselves in their situation. Compassion is nonetheless associated with positive or negative emotions. Compassion is a specific, personal emotion, which is a reaction to our comprehension of the life of another.
In the framework of The Emotional Coaching, we will focus on the “queen of emotions” - The Fear.
In the first instance, fear responds to a very precise stimulus, peril. This emotion is ignited when one is exposed to danger, but also beforehand (apprehension, etc.) and afterwards (post-traumatic stress). Fear allows the individual to adapt to danger (adrenaline influx, mobilization of the body, etc.). Fear is intrinsically linked to pride, to the fear of losing – a material possession, love, talent…. As soon as we identify with something, worries emerge and remain as long as we fear that it could escape us. We shrink, we defend ourselves, and we lose contact with ourselves. Behind the needs, desires, compensations, dependence, past injuries, there is, of course, fear. Fear is what conditions the unconscious chain reaction, which is linked to our dark side. Fear tyrannizes and paralyzes us. It imprisons us. In other words, it makes us vulnerable.
We must be aware that superficial fears bully us and motivate our daily routine. It is only by scrupulous observation of the reality within us that, one day, the grip they have on us will be released…
We deploy all sorts of mechanisms designed to protect us:
- Escape, submission, dependence;
- Aggressiveness, arrogance, violence;
- Menace, threats, blackmail, intimidation.
Behind these mechanisms, hide some fears, in particular:
- Fear of being rejected; to disappoint.
- Fear of not being loved;
- Fear of ridicule, of being ashamed.
- Fear to fail
- Fear to win
Linked to “personal values”, in other words, to the image that we believe others have of us, or to the image that we have of ourselves, these fears take root in our upbringing, our education, our social and cultural relations and our various experiences. They have considerable influence over our vital energy, in other terms, over our personality.
These fears sometimes make us refuse to –
- Succeed according to our own criteria;
- Ask for things for ourselves;
- Express our emotions freely;
- Say “no” without having to justify our saying so;
- Displease anyone;
- Dare without feeling guilty, etc.
DISCREPANCY AND REASSURANCE
If the emotions express the essential needs of the individual, by definition, fear expresses the need to be reassured. But reassured of what? The anxious individual lives through a discrepancy between desirable, absolute reality (what I would like / must be) and the reality felt, posed as real (what I think I am). Doubt begins to creep in, “I should be like this but I am like that.” The inner monologue of social anxiety is born from this dichotomy, “We talk to say something intelligent, but I have nothing interesting to say.”
It is the same thing for stage fright, “I should be able to do this, but I cannot manage to do it.” This discrepancy is felt so strongly that fear invades our being and thereby inculcates the need to be reassured.
Schematically, the emotion offers two options:
- The subject expresses his doubts, his fear, his need to be reassured. He finds his interlocutors prepared to listen to him and to reassure him. His doubts subside; even disappear under the effect of the dance of comforts.
- The subject does not express his emotions. There is no one to talk to… or no one sufficiently attentive. His doubts increase to the point of becoming a phobia.
How do we reach the point of not being able to express our emotions?
The fundamental dilemma is probably socio-cultural. Expressing one’s emotions is to be sensitive, and being sensitive, in the West, is to be weak. “You’re a man. A man does not cry,” is something we hear early in life. The child will not be heard; rather we will “toughen him for his own good”; “Straighten up, people are looking at us”; “You’re grown-up now, stop your silliness!” The fear of a child is often ill perceived; ill lived, ill negotiated, perhaps because the adult is the one who still fears the dark anyway. A society which claims to be Cartesian, so-called scientific, does not leave any space for the irrational.
The Emotional Coaching allows to:
- Develop self-confidence;
- Open up to who we are, without blame or judgment;
- Decide to be ourselves and not the person others would want us to be;
- Discover and better understand some of the causes responsible for our physical and psychological limitations.