Customizing My Emotional Spin Cycle:
Psych 409a - Fall 2001- G15
Dr. Leon James
Instructions for this report
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II. Data Collection and Analysis
As I explained inReport 1, this project is divided in two sections. In the first section (Report 1), I tried to define in my own words with the help of different sources (such as books, news media, web sites and Generational Curriculum), the terms used in the Map of the Emotional Spin (created by Dr. James) which shows us how our emotions, feelings, thoughts and actions work together in our day-to-day lives. In this Report, the second section of my project, I am going to describe, analyze and discuss the findings of my self-monitoring study in which I had put into practice the knowledge from Report 1.
The Map of the Daily Emotional Spin Cycle tells us very important facts about our society. It explains how we usually deal with our emotions, feelings, thoughts and actions. Based on observations of ourselves and of people around us, we can conclude that the majority of us do not have their cycle under control because of the simple fact that they are not aware of it. There are no instructions for ordinary people that tell them how to be aware of, control and modify their inappropriate behavior. It is the result of our socialization. As Dr. James explains, our emotional spin cycle is created based on our cultural norms of behavior and is then divided into four main categories. Dr. James writes, "We have the impression that we are acting on our own from ourselves, not realizing that we are just running off the social scripts we acquired as children and adults." To understand how this happens, we just need to look around and see how people act in similar ways in specific situations. The problem is that we are not only acquiring social adaptive forms of behavior but are also acquiring anti-social, destructive kinds of behavior. Our society is showing incredibly high rates of rage in the last years. This is the result of an emotionally uneducated population, which will increase with each year if we do not stop it. To resolve this problem we must introduce specialized educational programs in our society, especially in kindergartens where children start the process of socialization. There should also be more literature about how our emotional spin cycle works (available for everyone at any age), more video-tapes in schools, universities and also on TV (showing the consequences of uncontrolled behavior, explaining how to be aware of it and how to modify it), and more support groups for those who want to change but can not do it by themselves.
I had the opportunity to be in Dr. James' classes where I learned about my emotional spin cycle, understanding how it works, and how to control it and modify it. In this report, I am going to show how I used to behave before I learned the three-step method (Sampling and Differentiating) and how I came to behave afterwards (Modifying and Re-sampling).
Data Collection and Analysis
The main goal of this project was to understand my emotional spin cycle, how it works and how I can improve my behavior using it. To reach this goal I needed to first analyze my own behavior, all the steps I passed through on the cycle. Second, I needed to understand what I was doing wrong, and third, modify it. I used two methods in this report to collect data: self-monitoring and the three-step method. I also divided the collection of the data into two phases so I could compare how I behaved before I started to use the Bridge technique and after.
The three-step method, of course, consists of three steps. In the first one, called "Acknowledge," I recognize that I am having a rage episode. Without this step, I could not have continued this method because I would not know what must be changed. In the second step, called "Witness," I become aware of my threefold self. I know that what I am doing is visible to others, so I try to be more aware of my actions. By asking myself questions such as, "What are you thinking about?", "Is it a good thought?", "Why not?", and "Why am I feeling annoyed and upset?", I became aware of my thoughts and feelings, which helped me to control my behavior. In the third step, called "Modify," I started to change my threefold self by first modifying my sensorimotor behavior, relaxing my body, controlling my breath and my actions. Second, I modified my cognitive behavior by stopping the cycles of aggressive thoughts. And third, I modified my affective behavior, reminding myself of what is really important to me, what goes first in my hierarchy of motives.
The self-monitoring method, which goes together with the three-step method, is where I register the information down on my data collection tables (data 1 and data 2). The technique used in my self-monitoring is called the sampling technique. This technique required me to select one intense feeling that I experienced during the morning, afternoon and evening and describe it. There should be a description of my feelings at that moment, a description of what kind of thoughts I had and of what kind of actions I completed and sensations I experienced. The information gathered was registered as soon as it was possible, which made it more reliable and more likely to be accurate. Important details such as time, place and my appearance to others were also registered. Another useful way to record my inner state and my relation toward others during the day was through the Global Ratings, in which I rated my stress, satisfaction with myself, effectiveness or productivity throughout the day, my level of coping successfully, my hope for the future, and the worst level of negativity or selfishness toward other people around me on a scale from1 to 10 (1= low level; 10=high level). This information about my threefold self was gathered for 8 days. This was the first phase of the gathered data, called: Sampling and Differentiating.
If you look at the situations I described in this phase, you will see that in the majority of the cases, the reason why I was enraged was connected with unimportant things, which led to negative moods for the rest of the day influencing my behavior. The place where my episodes of rage occurred most often was in my home environment. The reason for that I suppose is because we feel freer to do what we want in our own homes than we do in front of others. In the Global Ratings, the average score level for stress was 7, for satisfaction with myself it was 5, for hope--6, for effectiveness and productiveness--6, for coping successfully--6, for the worst level of negativity or selfishness toward other people-5. When I collected the Global Ratings twice a day I assumed that there would be a difference in the levels of rating, but there were almost none. The only item that differentiated a little bit throughout the day was the level of negativity or selfishness toward other people, which showed an average level of 4.8 in the morning and 5.75 in the evening. From this data collection I can make the following conclusion: based on my improper way of analyzing the events around me and inside myself, I had lower levels of satisfaction, productivity, coping and hope which led to higher levels of stress and pessimism.
The next 8 days I focused on the modification of my threefold self. I chose an area that I wanted to target for my self-modification. I chose to focus on my home environment, where I realized I had the majority of my rage episodes. This second phase of the gathered data was called:Modifying and Re-sampling. Here I followed a specific procedure called the Bridge Technique. It had seven steps in my data collection procedure:
1) What was I feeling? What did I feel like doing? What were my emotions? 2) What was I thinking? What were the sentences I said to myself? 3) What were the sensations in my body, my appearance to others, and acts I did overtly? 4) What was the Bridge I used (Determination-red or Resistance-blue)? What self-regulatory sentences did I say to myself? 5) What was my modified thinking? 6) What was my new feeling? 7) What were the resulting sensations, appearance and overt acts?
To understand better how the Bridge works, let me first explain some important details about the threefold self and about the Daily Spin Cycle. AsDr. James explains, the threefold-self has two arenas to function in: the arena of "others", which can be positive (positive-red-zone) or negative (negative-red-zone) and the arena of "self" which can also be positive (positive-blue-zone) or negative (positive-blue-zone). Every single day we need to interact in these two zones, with others (red zone) and with ourselves (blue zone). As you can see, there are 4 zones systematized in a cycle. The upper half is connected to others (zone1-negative red, zone4-positive red) and the lower half is connected with the self (zone2-negative blue, zone3-positive blue). Each zone has the threefold self: the habits of feeling, thinking and doing. Zone 1 has its threefold self on rage, Zone 2 on depression, Zone 3 on Self-confidence and Zone 4 on zeal. There are all together 12 settings systematized around a circle, which is called the emotional spin cycle. It shows how cultural norms of behavior are acquired. If you look at the Map of the Daily Emotional Spin Cycle, you will have a better idea of what it looks like and how it works.
The Bridge refers to the sentence I said to myself to convince myself to "cross the bridge" from the negative zone to the positive. The Bridge is supposed to initiate a new positive way of thinking to counteract the current negative thinking. But to start the Bridge I needed first to be motivated to change my thoughts. My motivation was to not let small and unimportant things destroy my marriage and my life. So every time I became aware of my negative feelings and thoughts I brought to my mind this sentence, which lead me to new, more rational thoughts, feelings and actions. The first couple times there was a big struggle to change to the new thoughts, but this struggle decreased with time. Once again, at the end of the day I collected the Global Ratings which helped me understand the progress I had made. If we look at the data collection, we will see that I came to analyze my thoughts and the events around me in a much more effective way. The Global Ratings also support this statement. My coping level increased from 6 to 9, my hope from 6 to 9.7, my effectiveness and productivity increased from 6 to7.8, the satisfaction with myself increased from 5 to 8.5. My level of stress decreased from 7 to 6, and the level of negativity of other people decreased from 5 to 4 . I should say that I indeed feel better after using the bridge technique. The conclusion I can draw from this data is that as I increased the awareness of my threefold self, it became easier to control and modify my behavior. With the Bridge technique, I created resistance in my mind against negative and cynical thoughts, which made me a more positive and happier person.
Because of the fact that the method used was self-monitoring, there could be some biased information in the data collection. Maybe I didn't describe my behavior in the same way someone else would. In my opinion, bias could be seen as a sign of invalidity if the individual didn't progress throughout the project. While analyzing the data we should ask ourselves: " Does this person really want to change, is there a sign of a behavior that must be changed?" If the answer is "No" it will be reflected on the person's data; there won't be any critic view of him/herself. Those who want to change will try hard to be as accurate as possible. Even if there is some bias it will not make a difference. This is how I understand my data collection. I was aware of what behavior I did not like and I tried to change it. According to Ormrod (1995), when we have goal-directed behavior, motivation usually leads to improved performance.
The period of time - two weeks- to collect the data could also show some signs of invalidity. Some people need more time to find in themselves some kind of behavior that is inappropriate and it can also take longer to change it. For others It might be easier and take less time. I would say that for me this time was enough because of the fact that it was not the first time I had monitored my behavior.
In my point of view the data collected about the way I react in certain situations could be generalized. It shows what kind of emotions and feelings certain situations create in me. For example, I said that I hate a messy apartment, I hate the TV being on while I am studying, I hate it when a driver does not see me and almost causes an accident, etc. This could be generalized as follows: I get upset not only seeing my place in a mess but also when I see my classroom, my city, and other places messy. I hate not only the TV being on while I am studying, but whatever makes noise and distracts me. I hate not only drivers, but whoever or whatever that can be dangerous and cause accidents. However, you can not predict my thoughts and actions such moments because they will depend on the situation, on how important the subject is for me at that point and on how fast I can control my threefold self (emotions, thoughts and actions). If I am sick for example, I am not going to care about any messy place, my health is more important than that.
Manifestation of the Spin Cycle
I began to understand the spin cycle when I started to monitor myself and record my behavior. When I recalled the details, I became aware of how my feelings toward the situation called forth certain thoughts and how these thoughts influenced my actions. From the fourth day on, my awareness of the cycle started to come to my mind automatically, as soon as I felt I was getting angry. I think the reason why it became automatic was because I wanted to change. I didn't want to feel angry, to be stressed and depressed anymore. In the first phase of the data collection, I was, in the majority of the situations, on a cycle of going from zone 1 (negative-red - Rage toward others) to zone 2 (negative-blue- depression). It was on the second phase of the data collection, after being familiar with the Bridge technique that I crossed to the positive side of the cycle, to zone 3 (positive-blue-mastery) and zone 4 (positive-red- zeal)
Chart I- Sampling and Differentiating
Chart II. Modifying and Re-Sampling
Based on the sampling fromPhase One and on Chart I (results of Global Ratings), we can see some patterns of negative behavior in a cycle going from rage toward others to rage toward myself, which is reflected by my high levels of stress and negativity toward others and lower levels of satisfaction with myself, hope, productivity and effectiveness and coping. On Chart I, we can see how my feelings, emotions and thoughts were more unstable, which probably influenced my actions. Now looking at Chart II, and at the re-sampling from Phase two, we can see more stability and optimism in my feelings, emotions and thoughts which led to more rational, adequate behavior.
I need to say that I learned a lot about myself doing this project. I now use the techniques described above in my day-to-day life, especially the Bridge technique. I used to be a very emotional person and reacted several times in very inappropriate, irrational ways, making myself and people around me miserable. Now, when I feel I am raging, I automatically become aware of my threefold self, I first analyze why I am feeling like that. This brings up my motives, making me realize the unimportance of the event, and soon I forget about it without spoiling my day (which used to happen constantly). I definitely recommended this technique to my friends (who are emotionally like I was) and I will keep doing it. Being aware of our threefold self always brings positive results not only to ourselves but to everybody around us. If everyone in this world were aware of their feelings, thoughts, actions and aware of how they work together, we could be living in a perfect world! No matter what kind of behavior you want to change, these techniques can help with all of them. Another important thing I discovered after re-reading my data was this sense of surprise when you look back at the way you behaved and think how silly it was. One of my colleges laughed when I talked about my self-monitoring saying: "I do not have time to do it!" to which I answered: " Well, it is up to you, of course, but if you think that a couple minutes is a waste of time in trying to make your life better, I need to say that you just do not like yourself or are being too lazy!" Sometimes, indeed, people can be so lazy, even though the effort required is for making themselves happy! This worries me. As I said above, there should be more information about these techniques everywhere, so people can see the power of it, how it can change their lives, its consequences, etc. We need to change people's mentality about certain things.
Ormrod, J.E. (1995). Educational Psychology: Principles and Applications. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey p.475