The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Emotion and Personal Growth

The Orbital Frontal Cortex of the brain is centrally involved in making moral, personal decisions. This is part of our evidence that the limbic system, and the emotions, are centrally connect to our sense of morality. What is "right" or "wrong" for us, for society, for our families. As anyone who has listened to highly politicized conversation knows, our moral and emotional filters not only color our world, but actually seem to control the flow of information to our logic centers. People will delete information contrary to their moral, emotional...(and possibly political) views of the world.

In order to not merely survive but thrive in the world, it is important that our emotions, our intellect, and our physical beings all move "in the same direction" much as the light-waves in a laser beam must coordinate in order to punch through a diamond.

"Self defeating" behavior is legendary. Trying to lose weight when you have a deep belief that being sexual is sinful or dangerous is futile. Trying to advance your financial career when you believe money is evil or corrupting or destructive is incredibly frustrating. Trying to maintain a personal relationship while dealing with deep feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness is a study in sabotage.

You can learn to control your emotions by controlling the images and sensations your mind uses to create them. This is one of the valuable things about meditation: when you get quiet enough, the images and sensations that make up the pre-verbal thought matrix will present themselves. By noting the sequence with which your old memories arise, you can begin to sense the way that your mind organizes reality to create your emotional states. Your emotions control your mental correlation and absorption of data. And these two in combination control your physical actions.

Emotion is most primary, but few people have direct access to them. The physical doorway is brilliantly effective, because you are already taking action--"stacking" emotional images and psychological attitudes while in exercise-induced high energy states has been used to program human beings for uncounted centuries. You can use it yourself, remembering that most (if not all--I personally have never run across one that does not) religions will modify the breathing at some point in their training, often playing around with the edge of oxygen debt so that you learn how to suppress panic. Learn to enter physical flow and you learn how to tip-toe past fears and internal voices.

But it is also possible to learn to increase this body-mind-emotion alignment by setting goals that challenge and stretch you. Scare you a little. Start with little ones, incremental goals that you can accomplish in a day or a week--rapid feedback is vital.

When you keep a goal, it is a promise to yourself. Celebrate. If you don't keep it, then chalk the result up to research. You have just experienced your sabotage mechanism. How did it work? How did it use your emotions against you? How did it use your environment to confuse you?

It is critical to judge without being attached to what you see here. To take a surgeon's detachment. There was something your mind wanted, your body had to do, and your emotions had to support.

If you can learn a little something new about your mind, emotions and physicality every day of your life, before long you'll be operating at a level of integration that baffles most people. There is nothing really extraordinary about it. It is the natural, healthy way of functioning. Our old programming, flawed self concepts and emotional baggage make it seem otherwise.


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