NLP Practitioner

Emotional Intelligence Series #4

What Are Emotions Anyway?

Part II

In the last article, I identified emotions in six ways thereby revealing a bit of the complexity about emotions.

  • 1) Emotion as movement.
  • 2) Emotions as inhibiting and exciting nerve impulses.
  • 3) Emotions as distinct from feelings.
  • 4) Emotions as cognitively based.
  • 5) Emotions as relative to map and territory.
  • 6) Emotions as interpretations.But wait-there’s more! I’m not done with defining an emotion.
  • 7) Emotions as reflexive layers.

When it comes to bodily emotions there are basically a dozen or more basic or primary emotions. Various authors have detailed these over the years, and depending on the author, there are anywhere from 8 to 20 core emotions. And like when you mix up the primary colours and apply perhaps brown and yellow together, you get secondary colours, and if you continue mixing colours, triary colours. So with emotions.
We have primary emotions, secondary, and triary emotions. Robert Plutchik’s book, Emotion: A Psycho-Evolutionary Synthesis (1980) posited 8 primary emotions: fear, surprise, sad, disgust, anger, anticipation, joy, and acceptance (receptivity).

12 primary emotions were later coded using six continua:

Joy (delight, pleasure) – Sad (grief, pain, dislike)

Fear (away from, anxiety, worry)- Anger (aggressing, going at)

Calm (relaxed) – Tension (distress, stress)

Fatigue (tired) – Energetic (vitality)

Distracted – Focused

Love (liking, attraction) – Hate (aversion, indifference, apathy

These levels of emotions arise from your reflexive consciousness. Just as you can think about your thinking, you can emote about your emotion. It is an exceedingly simply process. Simply answer, “What do you feel about anger?” Or, “What do you feel about fear, jealousy, stress, sadness, joy, excitement, etc.?” Further, if you are human, you cannot not reflect on your emotions. And since thinking-emoting is a single process that we can only pull apart linguistically, when you think-emote you create a state-a state of mind-body-emotion. And when you bring one state to another state, you build up the second, third, fourth, etc. levels of emotions-about-emotions.

This means that we have emotions all the way up the meta-levels.

And that’s one reason why emotions can become considerably stronger as they go up the levels. So just as joyful learning is much more emotional than just “learning,” so passionately joyful learning, and ferociously passionate, joyful learning, etc. endows the foundational emotion with more and more emotionality. This puts the lie to the overly simplistic idea that the founders of NLP presented.They said that to “go meta”is to dissociate, to be less emotional, to be emotionless. Yet that is just not so. Going meta can, and often does, generates stronger experiences of emotion.
Dissociation is only one of 16 interfaces that can occur when you go meta. It is one that probably only occurs about 1% of the time.

Going Meta

To go meta and layer another emotion onto your previous thinking-and-emoting is to generate layers of emotions about the original subject. This explains, in part, why it is sometimes difficult to say what you feel. You feel a lot of things! About a challenge, you may simultaneously feel excited, scared, fearful, stress, anticipating, curious, etc. And about excitement, you may feel enthused, playful, curious or ecstatic. And about fear you may feel some self-doubt, apprehension, etc. Emotions as reflexive layers reveal that emotions can be quite complex. They can also set us up to feel contradictory emotions at the same time, which again, makes it difficult to say exactly what you feel-as if it is normal to feel only one things at a time.

Moods and Attitudes

Now true enough, many secondary and triary emotions, as they go up the levels do tend to become more like moods (a pervasive emotional state) or even as attitudes (a disposition of body, mind, and emotion). This changes the quality of the emotion, even thought it is still an emotion.For example, fear becomes a generalized fearfulness, a timidity, a shyness, an avoiding. Anger becomes rage, then sarcasm, then hatredm aggressiveness, disrespect, etc.

The bottomline about emotions is that they are a kind of thinking

Anger thinking creates anger feelings; fear thinking creates fear feelings. Jealous thinking creates jealousy feelings. Because thinking-feeling is a single process, theirs is no real distinction between them. Your nervous systems operate holistically so that thinking-feeling blend together as an energy source in your body.

Are you looking for more emotional intelligence? You are in the right location

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