Thursday, October 25, 2007

Developing Emotionally

Melissa, a client, writes: "As you recall I got booted from my job when you were consulting here a while back. In the congruent model I was too self-oriented and neglected the needs of the Presidential Other and the Context. I recently exited another situation in similar fashion (but recognized the self-orientation problem right away). In my analysis I have discovered my INTP self has built a huge ability to work through and understand problems rationally and a minuscule ability to comprehend problems or situations emotionally. So far I realize I need to build emotional awareness, both of my self and of others. I think they go together. Seeing emotions in myself helps me see them in others. I think I also need more emotional problem skills. A friend pointed out humans are quite often irrational and I get confused trying to deal with those situations rationally. I guess I am looking for ways to develop emotionally. I appreciate any emotions or ideas that you and others are willing to share. Thank you."

I'd like my readers to post any help they can give to Melissa. Let me start by offering an exercise I found extremely useful in learning to perceive my own emotional state:

The Body Inventory

Sit down by yourself.

Close your eyes and mentally perform an inventory of your physical state.

Start with the tip of the big toe on your right foot. Is it feeling anything? Quiet? Itchy? Painful? What kind of pain?

Acknowledge the feeling, then move on to the next toe and repeat the process.

Finish your right toes, then do the left. Then do the parts of your feet, then your ankles and up your legs.

Continue the process up your body, inside and out, until you finish at the top of your head.

If you're pressed, the entire process can take as little as one minute, though if you can spare a couple of minutes, that would be better. You can almost always get a couple of minutes. For example, if I'm in a stressful client meeting, I ask for a health break and head for the men's room (in your case, Melissa, the ladies' room). I can hide out in a booth and perform the inventory. When I'm finished, I not only know my physical state (and perhaps something I want to do to improve it), but I usually have some insight into my emotional state and the emotional states of the others in the meeting.

Give it a try.

Any other suggestions?


Doris Fuellgrabe said...

hi there, gerry - that sounds like a great exercise! i think you hit the nail on the head there saying it's sometimes necessary to take a wee break and have a listen to our body and our insides. i think that's a great tip for melissa (and everyone), because in my experience we're programmed to act and react to situations and people's comments as quickly as possible so as to not appear slow (a.k.a. stupid), but there's really no reason not to take your time before doing or saying anything.
apart from that, it may be interesting for you, melissa, to look into what's blocking the emotional awareness and/or acceptance. is it an introvert thing, or have you grown up with rolemodels who have preferred being rational to showing emotions? what are your beliefs regarding emotions; is it a sign of strength or of weakness to show them? who says, where have you first learned that? "a man screaming and shouting is ambitious, a woman doing the same is emotional or having a nervous breakdown" - what do you think about that? is that belief (always) true and helpful, or is it time to change it into something more productive?
there's nothing wrong with being a rational person, by the way. but if you're interested in exploring your emotions, all the power to you. it sounds like you've already learned from your past experiences and have taken the first step in identifying what you want to do. the mere awareness is a sign for self-reflection that goes a long way. have fun and take it easy, dee xx

Doris Fuellgrabe said...

PS - i'm reading "The new Peoplemaking" by the inspiring Virginia Satir. one of the main themes in the book is self-worth and congruency. it is definitely an interesting read, even for people who don't intend to start families just now. plus she quotes gerry's books in her bibliography, so gerry - would it be inappropriate to ask if you'd care to share some of your experience with ms satir and/or her works? modesto said you knew her personally? thanks, dee xx

Jim Grey said...

I'm an INFP, so I've had to learn how not to operate immediately from my emotional mind and allow my rational mind to have its say first. Psychological researchers, specifically Marsha Linehan at the U. of Washington, call this balance "wise mind," and it does seem to be a matter of practicing (and practicing, and practicing) listening to the side of you that isn't primary. Linehan says, "Wise mind is that part of each person that can know and experience truth. It is where the person knows something to be true or valid. It is almost always quiet, It has a certain peace. It is where the person knows something in a centered way."

Linehan's research turned into treatments for people who pathologically live in their emotion minds, but I think anyway that the idea of wise mind, and that cognitive/behavioral approaches to reaching it, can be helpful to people who find that a mostly-rational or mostly-emotional approach isn't getting them to where they want to be.

Compass360 Consulting Group said...

Jerry, Since you are an advanced aikido player. I will presume you have an understanding regarding to the premise of internal martial arts. It is all about getting a "conscious feel" of the entire body through centering and relaxing. This can be achieved through deep and slow breathing. Beside Taiji, BaquaZhang and Aikido, YiQuan teaches the conscious feel of the entire body. Here is a link to an article on Yi Quan. ... Good luck with the workshop.

reevesy said...

Ultimately, developing emotionally is about increasing your emotional awareness and this starts with self awareness.

To increase your self awareness, you need put aside your fears and desires and just listen, as Jerry's exercise suggests. The more you can listen the greater awareness you will gain.

For books on the subject, I would suggest works by Steve Hagen.


Compass360 Consulting Group said...

>this starts with self awareness.

As an amateur internal martial arts player, it starts with learning how to be still. Then learning how to attain the state of be stillness in motion.

As one learns how to be still, he/she begins to consciously increase their self awareness. Setting aside their fears and desires. In advanced Taiji exercising, they learn how to learn while being still (Ting Jing). During the process, he/she begins to gain a greater state of conscious awareness. This state will help you in various situations. But that is another post.

As a note, real "Taiji play" is not found in parks in Chinatown. It is found in closed door sessions by masters of all races. Finding the real instructor is the challenge.

Compass360 Consulting Group said...

One more note: Peter Ralston's book "Zen Body-Being" is a good step for an "internal martial arts" newbie