My Emotional Spin Cycle:
Introduction: This report is the data analysis of the premises described in report 1. This is a study of the threefold self during emotional events and how oneself can be described in terms of the daily emotional spin cycle. The spin cycle is described in detail below as the positive or negative aspects of one's cognitive, affective, or sensory-motor self. This study utilizes bridging techniques in the second half of the observational period to help an individual change from a negative state of mind, physical, or emotional state into positive ones. Self-witnessing is used as a threestep method to acknowledge, witness and modify ones state after an emotional event. Self-witnessing proved useful to me in this exercise, as I was able to isolate things that made me feel negative and analyze my ability to use bridges to bring about a positive state.
Implications for this exercise are rather profound as it allows one to understand the threefold self (thoughts, feelings, and actions) and how these can be affected by positive or negative settings on the daily emotional spin cycle. Modern American society now identifies with the weakening of one's immune system, inter-personal relationships, spirituality, coping mechanisms, and mental stability. An exercise such as the one detailed in this report allows one to remove negative thoughts, feelings, and actions to help strengthen any of the weakness listed above. Psychology is a very useful tool for the everyday person to help gain better control over ones life. The understandings of the emotional daily spin cycle and how to use self-witnessing and bridging techniques to help change negative behavior patterns (spin cycle) into positive ones. Such a useful tool could provide much hope for the future to help create entire cohorts of emotionally intelligent, rational thinkers that can have control over the setting of their emotional spin cycle. To create such cohorts, this technique could be taught in high school and psychology classes and implemented in any mental-health programs where it would be applicable (road rage class, anger management, domestic abuse, stress reduction, etc.).
Figure 1. Daily Emotional Spin Cycle (Dr. James, 2001).
The daily emotional spin cycle is made up of four zones, two red and two blue. Red refers to action with others and blue refers to actions with self. Red and blue zones are either negative or positive. The threefold self is defined in each zone as feeling, thinking and doing. It is a cycle because feeling and thinking within a zone support the occurrence of acting within that zone. A person can be stuck within a zone by using positive thoughts to feed positive feeling, which help create positive actions. The same is true for a negative spin cycle.
Threestep method is designed by Dr. James to help people self-witness their negative emotions, especially while driving. The threestep method is described by acknowledge, witness and modify. Acknowledge is the initial determination to gain control over ones negative feelings and daily spin cycle. For the purpose of self-witnessing the individual must acknowledge when they are in a negative zone. For example if the person is in the negative one zone he/she must acknowledge that they are raging. The same is true if the individual is being pessimistic or self-defeating in the negative blue zone. Witness is the self-monitoring of the threefold self (cognitive/thinking, emotional/affective, and sensory-motor/doing) during an emotional event. The witnessing questions used for the self-witnessing for this report included: what happened to cause this feeling?, what is the feeling?, what are the thoughts I had while I felt that way?, did I say something to myself or aloud while I felt this way?, what is my bodily sensation? Am I hot, sweaty, tight, frowning, etc? Modify is the change of your threefold self from one zone in the daily spin cycle to another. When an individual is in the negative zones (1 and 2) the first objective is to modify any destructive behaviors and put the actions into a more relaxed state. This may range from not performing a destructive act to simply relaxing one's shoulders and mouth. Once the body is in a normal state, the modification can be focused onto the cognitive zone where positive statements of determination (red bridge) or resistance (blue bridge) get the mind from thinking negative, often emotionally charged, thoughts to thinking rational positive thoughts. Once the thinking is in the positive zones (3 and 4) then the emotions can follow. The affective will support the cognitive and once the mind knows what is best in an emotional event, the emotions will follow in a positive way.
Bridges are used as part of the sampling method during week 2. For individuals who find a certain event sets their daily spin cycle to a negative zone would benefit most from sampling during these events. After performing the threestep method, a bridge is used to change one from a negative setting to a positive setting. Bridges are identified as red or blue, to be defined shortly, and any self-regulatory sentences or personal mantras are recorded. Then the subsequent state of the threefold self is then recorded after the bridge is complete (how do you think, feel, act now?). A red bridge helps one go from negative red thinking to positive red thinking. A blue bridge allows one to cross from negative blue thinking to positive blue thinking. By observing when one enters a negative spin cycle during the first week of observations, a bridge can be prepared for future use. The bridge is essentially changing the threefold self from a negative to a positive state. The determination bridge to create positive red thinking will help give rise to positive red feeling. Positive red doing (the highest setting) cannot really occur without the combination of these two settings. The resistance bridge from setting 5 to setting 8 is achieved by eliminating negative thoughts and replacing them with realistic positive ones.
Data Collection and Analysis: Observations were taken in the morning, afternoon, and evening of each day over a two-week period. Observations were taken at a random time when there was some relatively, or very, strong feeling occurring. Most observations occurred while I was working or studying. Some observations were also taken while driving, shopping, looking for parking, broken down on the side of the highway, or while relaxing. In most observations I was in a solitary state, as I work mostly with animals. Data of each day's events were written out as soon after the observation (within 5 minutes) as possible and then entered onto an Excel spreadsheet and a daily total was taken at the end of each day for the following categories ranked 1 to 10. These are referred to as the Global Ratings, which were then averaged at the end of each week. (Week One Raw Data and Summary and Week Two Raw Data and Summary).
1) What was my strongest stress point today? (1=very weak; 10=extreme)
2) What was my strongest level of satisfaction with myself today? (1=very weak; 10=extreme)
3) What was my best level of effectiveness or productivity today? (1=very weak; 10=extreme)
4) What was my best level of coping successfully with my feelings today? (1=very ineffectual; 10=extremely effective) Here I chose 5 for neutral on days where there were no observed negative thoughts, feelings or actions
5) What is your current level of hope for the future? (1=little hope or brightness; 10=extremely hopeful and bright)
6) What was the worst level of negativity or selfishness of some other people around you? (1=almost no negativity or selfishness observed; 10=extremely strong negative or selfish behavior observed)
Errors are associated with self-sampling as an individual might tend to observe certain emotional states that an unbiased observer would or would not. For example, an individual cannot see that they are exhibiting stress in traffic (a frowned face and tight hands) while an observer could. Self-witnessing is also difficult in that many people deny when they are emotionally charged in a negative way. Part of negative thinking is often filled with self-importance, which may lead to denial of what is really going on. An example is someone who is driving aggressively and thinks that they drive fine, but was simply running late. The effectiveness of the bridge can only be truly determined if the observer records how he or she feels, thinks and acts and not what is believed to be the correct response.
Discussion: There did not appear to be any negative spin cycle in my daily routine. At this time I am living a rather comfortable and stress-free life. I can understand how a daily spin cycle could occur for someone who has daily stress driving to school or work, or has a difficult time in relationships at home, work, school, or in public. Though I did not have a daily spin cycle, I did experience three very negative things during my two-week observations. Two of the incidents had to do with my job, which consists of maintaining the health, sanity, and training of all the animals at a small family ranch (5 horses, 5 dogs, 5 cats, and assorted fowl). The third incident was probably more typical for a negative experience as I was terribly late to a very important test because of traffic. I used either the red or blue bridge in each case, which did help me remain in my normally positive mood, mindset, and routine.
The first was agreeing to let a turkey that I raised from a chick to be given away for a Thanksgiving dinner. I agreed to him being eaten, but ended up having to take care of this myself. I had to take responsibility because the others who could do it left for vacation without making the arrangements. I was the one who picked up my friendly turkey while his feet were bound and he was placed into the bed of my friend's truck. I cried so much and felt very bad for the turkey's girlfriend. I was in the negative blue feeling as I felt responsible for his death and I could not justify it. The blue bridge I used was that the turkey was too big to walk and enjoy life and that he would no longer appear to be an unhappy animal on the ranch. I was also glad that I gave him to a friend who would kill him quickly and that the turkey would feed my friend's family. The bridge was successful in that I felt better, but I am still crying writing this now after three weeks. I did not want to be the one to send him to his death and I did not think enough about how it would make me feel. I cannot use the justification of eating turkeys is good as a bridge because I have not eaten turkey at all for over six years. The female turkey follows me everywhere like a pet dog and I feel that if there were some way for her to know what I did, she would have bad turkey emotions (if they exist) towards me. I cannot seem to form a bridge strong enough to carry me into positive blue thinking or feeling on this issue. I am considering writing a poem about my pain to see if that helps me release my guilt, anger and sadness. I am also considering sending money to a save-the-turkey foundation when I have some money after the holidays. Doing these things may strengthen my bridge to where I will be in the positive blue feeling, thinking and doing.
The weekend after Thanksgiving was a dog obedience trial. As part of my job I am training each of the dogs so they can get their American Kennel Club Companion Dog Title. I was to take Pinky, who was doing well at the last two shows and I was a bit worried about how we'd do since there has not been any group obedience calluses for us to practice at. I use positive blue bridge in the morning to quell my worries so we could have a good day together. I got to the show early and practiced for an hour before waiting for our class. When we finally went into the class, the dog was not very well behaved. She was not so bad as to not pass the class and she was better than she had been before on certain exercises. When it came time to do a group long sit, the dog laid down. This is automatic failure and I knew that she would do better. I was in the negative red thinking and feeling zone, as I wanted to go across the ring and physically hurt her for being so naughty. I held my composure and used the red bridge to release my anger and tell myself that she will do better next time and that we had improved in some areas. I knew that no punishment; only practice would help for the next show. I was in the positive red zone after using the bridge and praised the dog and felt resolved to better next time. It is generally very easy for me to forgive others and I try not to ever harbor bad feelings as I feel they only hinder my mind and health.
I had been preparing to take a standardized test for graduate school for over a month. I spent $1000 on a review course and had studied well the week before the exam. Whenever I felt unsure of myself I used blue bridges to feel good about how much I had studied and how well prepared I would be. I got plenty of rest and left the house on Saturday morning to get to the testing center a little early. If I was late, I would be locked out and the next test was not unit February. I was driving from Kahaluu and what usually takes 10 minutes to get to the Likelike took 30 minutes. I was running very late and I had to fight stressing out. I used a mantra of "please let me make it to this test and I'll do fine". I was blaming myself to some degree not to have left earlier, which is a negative blue thought. I screeched into the parking lot, parked illegally and ran to the test center, only to just make it in time. I was very relieved and used a blue bridge to convince myself to be calm, focused and proud of myself for being so prepared. I then banished the rushed feelings I had on the way to the test and relaxed. The blue bridge worked very well as I was determined to be in a good state of mind during the test.
When reviewing the weekly summaries of the global ratings and overall positive, neutral, or negative aspects of my threefold self it is noted that my observations show me to be overall positive or neutral (90% for week 1, 80% for week 2). I recorded utilizing one red and seven blue bridges during week 2. There was no difference of my weekly global ratings greater than 0.4.
Conclusion: The self-witnessing done for this report has proven to be a valuable tool in forming ways to reduce negative zones of the daily emotional spin cycle. I feel that this technique is a great way to understand the premise of the threefold self, the emotional spin cycle, bridging for negative to positive, and self-witnessing. I would recommend this as a program to everyone to help himself or herself establish a positive thinking routine. I believe that positive thinking is the key to positive feelings and behaviors that will allow a person to live up to their full emotional potentials.