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HOMESpiritual Psychology

Emotional Management and Appropriate Reaction

Published on December 4, 2018

 

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There is no denying that there is a natural impulse to get out of a foul mood when we fall into one. Once we feel something those feelings often suggest a course of action. When we miss out on the meanings of our feelings and emotions, and when we avoid contact with the feelings themselves, things get complicated.

The first HeartHealth technique opens people to getting directly in touch with their heart felt feelings. For many this first step is the hardest for either their rational or conceptual thinking minds have captured the mainstream of their consciousness. When we are thinking we are not able to experience our feelings or garner the full meaning from our emotional states. When the mind is engaged in judgments of emotions and feelings, when it is dividing the feelings into positive and negative, the meanings of the emotional messages become less clear. So the first stage of emotional heart intelligence is to allow feelings and emotions enough breathing space so we can feel them in their purity. Only when we experience them can we read the inherent messages in them.  The cornerstone of self-awareness is the ability to recognize feelings and emotions as they happen. The ability to monitor inner affective states is crucial to psychological self-understanding and insight as well as to our spiritual evolution.

But the next stage is emotional management. Feelings are not something we can or should control, those waves that ripple across and through our beings. Even our intense emotional reactions to things should not be repressed but we can stop well short of violence in our expression with a minimum of emotional intelligence. But we have a lot of say in how long a reaction or emotion captures our mind or beings and we have freedom of choice in how to respond in terms of action. We can handle or manage our feelings so that they are appropriate to the circumstance they are arising in. This is the hallmark of Aristotle’s insight that what is wanted is appropriate emotion, feelings proportionate to the circumstance.

Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, this is not easy.undefined

– Aristotleundefined

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Anger provides one of the best examples of emotional intelligence when it is realized what the purpose of the anger is. There are many shades of anger ranging from normal anger, fury and outrage, to its repressed form, resentment, to the extreme, pathological hatred and violence. Anger calls clearly for either a change in our self or a change in our current situation. Like most powerful feelings, we risk much when we do not take into account the intelligence of the emotion or feeling state; for our feelings count ever bit as much if not more than our thoughts in accessing situations correctly.

When Einstein said that emotions don’t lie I think he was in part referring to their normal authenticity and anger is very authentic though not a popular emotion. Though actors and children and emotionally ill people are often overly dramatizing their feelings, our feelings represent real being states or inner experiences of being. Though emotions and feelings are things we normally think of as interior manifestations of inner process, emotions and feelings are the most powerful forms of being to being communication. Emotional displays have powerful and immediate consequences and impact the people we project them onto to. The HeartMath people have coined the term emotional virus. They are indicating the fact that emotions are somehow highly contagious in social environments. This is as true at the office as it is in our personal sphere at home.

It takes incredible strength and centeredness to withstand the bombardment of other people’s emotions when they do reach out into our ‘private’ space…Though we can work, through time, to achieve deeply centered spaces it matters much where we anchor and center our consciousness. If it’s in the mind, yes we can become impervious to other people and their feelings and emotions; but that center will be one of detached aloofness and coldness of heart. Better to react. The heart can achieve a place where it can become impervious to emotional viruses because the most open heart, the most vulnerable, is actually the strongest and is radiating out its center, its love and its power instead of being dependent on others. Yet a strong brave heart can be hurt.

The case for emotional management is strong and in fact people spend much of their time doing just this. Much of what we do in life can be seen as attempts to alter or manage our moods. From watching television to smoking cigarettes, from reading books to taking walks, from drinking and doing drugs, to taking medication and seeing a therapist. The skill of soothing our hurt or disturbed feelings is an important emotional skill. Some psychoanalytic thinkers, such as John Bowlby and D. W. Winnicott see this as one of the most essential of all psychic tools. How we sooth our self says so much about who and what we are as beings. It is human behavior to try to get out of a bad mood. The whole edifice of our emotional intelligence though rests on how we do this. Some approaches to life sell us on think positive, or feel positive feel good directives. What is not seen clearly is that it is not so important what we feel as what we do with the feelings. First there is listening to them and allowing them to enter fully into our consciousness. Then there is the lesson or message to understand and learn. Then there are changes to make. To feel good yet understand little is not evolutionary. There are various options for managing our feelings and emotional reactions. On certain occasions one management tool might be more appropriate and at other times another

Power The Third Side of The Heart

There is a drive in some human beings that motivates them toward action because they want to make things better, more pure, more harmonious. If we want to be more pure or make things out there more harmonious we need the perceptual ability to see the impure, the disharmony and divisions in human life. To work to make things more positive we need to see and work with the not so positive. We all have a healthy and unhealthy self, a light and a dark side. As long as we are human this is so no matter what we like to think and believe. No matter how happy we are or how much money or success we have there is a part of us that is afraid of change. A part that is not perfect. A part that is a bit lazy. There is a part that resists change and clings to the secure status quo. There is in most of us a natural resistance to making the effort to grow and would rather take the easy way out of the more challenging situations we find ourselves in. There is an innate fear of risking in most people, a fear of venturing forth into the unknown, into the face of change and truth because of a fear that we might lose what we already have.

John Cage said "I can’t understand why people are so frightened by new ideas. I am frightened of the old ones." It is commonly known that humans fear new things, new ideas. People basically find something new threatening because if they incorporate the new they might have to revise their inner life maps. We don’t want to look too closely at things that might cause deep earthquakes in our lives and beings.

We need a force, a power, and will to confront our resistance to growth and change. We need power, wisdom, and love to struggle with that which holds us back. People have a difficulty in dealing with the dark side of life and in part this is our resistance to feel and experience our feelings in their fullness. Once we allow full awareness of feelings to enter our consciousness the next step is finding the courage and will to express them appropriate through communication and action. What is now needed on earth is a form of beautiful power. Beautiful power comes when love and intelligence combine to form the foundation on which all action rests.

Power wielded without love has been responsible for much human misery. Beautiful power is rare because the nature of power holds a temptation that corrupts the human heart. Only people who have entered their dark sides and have come out through to the light can claim the true wisdom and love to wield power in a way that does not add to human misery. People who have avoided a conscious trip into their own darkness are totally vulnerable to being corrupted by the temptation to use power inappropriately when it is placed in their hands. True and beautiful spiritual power arises from the effort we have made to face our own inner fears and resistances. How we handle issues of power are tied to this internal confrontation.

We never escape the issues of power for they are always present in our personal life. In our families, in our relationships with children or our parents, and in our community life, power is an issue that confronts us. The use of power without love always ends up creating problems and some being pay a high price.

Power used without love hurts the universe of beingundefined

The struggle for power is seen in many families. Many children naturally become very determined to use power to defeat their parents. Children often gain a great sense of satisfaction from refusing to do what their parents want. Many children feel that if they were to comply with their parents requests they would be yielding to a stronger power and thus they would thereby lose their own sense of worth. This fear of being overwhelmed by a greater power is a devastating reality for some children and this often leads to some frightening efforts to demonstrate their own power.

Love and awareness naturally bring us into a direct confrontation with the abuse of power. Love and heightened awareness bring with them increasing responsibility to act with wisdom. Power is the ability or capacity to perform or act. Power implies a specific capacity, faculty, strength, or aptitude to exercise control or influence over events. Power measures our forcefulness and effectiveness. Nothing gets done and nothing changes without the application of some force, some energy, and some power. With power comes the ability to function, to grow, to make things happen and change.

Imbalances in power take two basic forms. Our tendency is either toward the passive, weak, resistant, and fearful side of power, or we gravitate toward the aggressive, domineering, power hungry, and abusive use of power. Any weakness in our family life often invites our loved ones to step on us in abusive ways. It is almost impossible for our children not to exploit any weakness that they perceive. Passivity reflects a lack of self-respect, self-love, and self-awareness. In our interpersonal encounters power flows from the person who is more forceful. Stronger people tend to push their emotional influence on the more passive. Dominant partners tend to talk more.

Communication is Powerundefined

Love does not grow inside of us without effort and some struggle. We need to use power to evolve and grow. We need strength to confront our passivity and fears and resistances to change. Our mind so easily postpones things (essential communications). This is the serpent self in the story of Adam and Eve. Scott Peck had an incredible insight about this story. He said, "The story suggests that God was in the habit of ‘walking in the garden in the cool of the day’ and that there were open channels of communication between Him and man. But if this were so, then why was it that Adam and Eve, separately or together, before or after the serpent’s urging, did not say to God, "We’re curious as to why you don’t want us to eat any of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We really like it here, and we don’t want to seem ungrateful, but your law on this matter doesn’t make much sense to us, and we’d really appreciate it if you would explain it to us." Peck adds, "But of course they did no say this. Instead they went ahead and broke God’s law without ever understanding the reason behind the law, without taking the effort to challenge God directly, question his authority or even communicate with Him on a reasonably adult level."

Man does not like to communicate and does not like to look at the reasons why. Most married partners do not communicate deeply and it’s the same between kids and adults. Humankind does not want to see the crucial importance of this yet the bible shows that we are thrown out of the Garden of Eden as a direct result of non-communication. People rarely put their feelings and emotions into words and it is even more rare when a person listens to such communications. There is a tremendous conspiracy and resistance on a race level to authentic heartfelt communication. Part of this was shown in the beginning of the book with the prose on listening, we are afraid of what we might hear so its better not to communicate in the first place. And here is what sets the stage for much of what is wrong with human life. It is exactly our inability to be listened to that creates so much of violence and frustration in human relationships. In couples whose marriages last we find people who communicate.

So a mother can postpone confronting a father who is abusing his daughter. Why does she not open her mouth? We postpone all our confrontations with our fears; we postpone taking a good look at our selves and the quality of the interpersonal environment around us. We do not want to understand what is happening around us because if we understand then we must act, we must change. We must communicate and this is a risk. If we share what we really are feeling then we might have to face the reaction and non listening (non love) in the other. And if we decide to communicate and act we must be prepared to fight for what we feel is right. Is love worth fighting for? Is it worth it to confront the lack of love in our intimate relationships? Should a wife confront the abusive husband? Should Adam and Eve have confronted God with their feelings and doubts? In reality we fear what we might find and what we might have to change when we see the truth of our situations.

When we are guided by love and intelligence, we will act with appropriate action, not excessive action. The quality of our action and communications are very much dependent on the quality of our awareness. Children who are more able to verbally express themselves are better able to protect themselves against the threat of being victimized. They are far more likely to demand to be left alone, to yell, scream, and kick, threaten to tell and in general fight back. Not only do we need the emotional intelligence to know and feel when something is wrong we need the ability to express it. This is the essence of beautiful power, expression!

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Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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