Instructions for Your Research Project
The Four Options
Customizing My Daily Emotional Spin Cycle
409a, 409b, 459--Spring 2002--G16
Dr. Leon James, Instructor
See Due Dates here
Note: These instructions for students are based on a forthcoming book by Diane Nahl and Leon James.
These are the general instructions about the project as a whole, giving diagrams, theory, design, and procedures for your project.
You must also read the separate instructions
for Report 1 (annotated
bibliography) and Report 2 (data, analysis, and
discussion). This will allow you to do a really meaningful
project in which you can show your understanding of what you did.
You will need to read the following instructions several times before the content falls into shape in your mind. Try to memorize most of the diagrams and examples so you have this information available in your mind all day long as you get ready to observe your daily emotional spin cycle.
This will allow you to do a really meaningful project in which you can show your understanding of what you did.
The Threefold Self
The Threefold Self
All individuals are socialized in accordance with cultural norms. To be socialized means to acquire particular habits in the three areas of human functioning:
á habits of feeling (affective domain of behavior)
á habits of thinking (cognitive domain of behavior)
á habits of sensations and acting out (sensorimotor domain of behavior)
Every individual has a threefold-self in which the three domains of behavior act together, yet each can be distinguished and isolated for observation and self-modification.
Your threefold-self has two life arenas to function in. One is the arena of others and the world; the second is the arena of self (or the private world within). These two life arenas--others/world and self--each require their own particular way of functioning. We are required to function in both arenas every hour of every day since we have to deal with others and the world, as well as with ourselves.
Our functioning in the two life arenas (others/world and self) can be either negative or positive. For instance, rage is a feeling located in the negative about others/world arena because it is the feeling of anger against someone or thing. Compassion is in the positive about others/world arena because it is the feeling of tolerance and caring for someone or thing. Similarly, the negative about self arena includes depression and self-destructive behavior since these involve negative feelings towards the self. The positive about self arena includes feelings of self-confidence and enthusiasm since these are positive feelings towards the self.
These four life arenas of our daily life are called "the four options" because it is up to us to choose in which of the four life arenas we want to function in any situation or at any moment. Our automatic habits normally determine which option we choose, and in many situations our automatic reactions are negative. Nevertheless, we always have the freedom to switch options from negative to positive. The positive options represent healthy adjustment, happiness, and success, while the negative options represent maladjustment, unhappiness, and failure. So it makes sense to customize your automatic habits so you end up functioning in the positive arena most of the time, if not always. This is what your project is about.
The Four Options
The diagram below is called "the four options diagram." It shows the four options we have on our daily emotional spin cycle:
The two options in the upper half of the diagram are called the red zone which refer to others and the world (one is negative and the other is positive). The two options in the lower half of the diagram are called the blue zone. It refers to self (again, one is negative and the other is positive).
Note that each of the four options involves the threefold-self: feeling habits, thinking habits, and acting out habits which include sensations in the body that we are aware of but do not show overtly, as well as our body movements and appearance that others can see. The four options are called the "emotional spin cycle" because they map out the cultural norms of behavior we acquire in our socialization or upbringing. To function as socialized individuals our threefold self must acquire particular habits that run themselves off according to a standard behavioral routine. These socialized habit routines are sometimes called "social scripts" or "schemas" (see instructions for Report 1).
We all have the impression that when we act, we are acting freely from our own
feelings and thoughts, not realizing that we are mostly running off the social scripts or
behavior routines we acquired as children and adults. This is shown by the fact that when
we compare what people feel, think, and do in specific situations we find that these are
very similar and predictable. Some of these behavioral scripts are pan-human (all
cultures) while others are specific to a cultural and ethnic sub-group. These demographic
similarities or equivalencies in social behavior prove that people's feelings, thoughts,
and actions are learned habits that are standardized or shared by many individuals in a
society. Without this standardization process we would not be able to
communicate with strangers and society would not be possible. Communication and
cooperation require that people overlap to some extent in their habits of feeling,
thinking, and acting out. These standardized habit routines of the threefold-self can be
categorized into four main types, which are here called "the four options."
These are the four types of behavioral routines we can choose to run off at some
particular moment in our daily round of activities. It's up to us which we choose at any
Without this standardization process we would not be able to communicate with strangers and society would not be possible. Communication and cooperation require that people overlap to some extent in their habits of feeling, thinking, and acting out. These standardized habit routines of the threefold-self can be categorized into four main types, which are here called "the four options." These are the four types of behavioral routines we can choose to run off at some particular moment in our daily round of activities. It's up to us which we choose at any one time.
Normally we just react automatically without having the impression that we are choosing our reactions. Nevertheless, these automatic reactions are just old habits that we chose to establish and reinforce in the past. We can consciously choose to modify them so that the new habits will then become our automatic reactions. These new habits are also standardized but they may suit us better, as for example when we choose to switch from negative to positive zones. This switching is indicated on the diagram by the red bridge and the blue bridge.
Getting to Know What the Options Are
How well do you know your own daily emotional spin cycle? There are two methods psychologists use to identify the personality habits of individuals. One approach is indirect: it is to ask people to respond to various questions (or "personality scale items") and then to compare an individual's answers to other people's answers or to some standards already established. This indirect method raises reliability and validity issues since the data depend on how accurate people's responses are, or how well they represent what they really do. A second approach is more direct: it consists of having people monitor or observe their feelings, thoughts, and actions as they occur in the course of the day, and make some sort of record for later analysis. In some situations this direct approach offers a better promise of being valid and actual. It is the method we will use for this project.
The idea in a nutshell is for you to observe your threefold-self at certain challenging times you select during each day and to observe the negative options you are choosing in that situation. This is called "baseline observation week." The second part is called "intervention week" and consists of your attempt to modify your negative emotional spin cycle in that same situation by choosing a positive option instead. The change to a positive option is accomplished through the "bridge technique." This involves talking yourself into switching over from the current option you are using, which is negative, to the positive that is also available to you.
Look at the diagram again:
Notice the option at the top left "negative about others and the world." Here the threefold self is running off the habit routine of RAGE or ARROGANCE. This affective feeling state or motivation in your mind, seeks and hooks up with a type of cognitive thinking that is called EMOTIONALLY IMPAIRED. When we are in an enraged or arrogant affective feeling state, a compatible cognitive thinking routine is triggered in our mind. This type of cognitive routine is not objective, realistic, or rational but is merely made to suit the negative feeling of rage or arrogance. The negative emotion and the impaired thinking then combine together to produce an overt behavioral routine that is called AGGRESSIVE or DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. In this way the threefold self runs off a series of negative habit routines consisting of a negative feeling coupled with impaired thinking and acted out as destructive behavior. This is one option we have in many situations in which we find ourselves every day.
Now notice the option at the top right: "positive about others and the world." Here the threefold self is running off the habit routine of RESOLVE with COMPASSION. This affective feeling state or motivation in your mind seeks and hooks up with a type of cognitive thinking routine that is called EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT. When we are in a positive affective state of RESOLVE with COMPASSION, we are highly motivated to do something to solve a problem. The affective feeling habit of resolve (or determination) needs to be associated with the affective feeling habit of compassion. This is what makes it different from rage. When we choose the rage option, all sorts of negative affective feeling habits will come associated with it, such as cruelty, hatred, and insensitivity. But the resolve with compassion option comes associated with positive feeling habits such as compassion, empathy, fairness, and tolerance.
The positive affective feeling state seeks out and triggers a compatible cognitive thinking habit. This type of cognitive thinking activity in the mind is objective, realistic, and rational. We then understand the realities of the actual situation instead of misunderstanding it and replacing it with the subjective distortions in thinking caused by negative emotions. The positive affective feeling state of RESOLVE with COMPASSION then seeks out and combines with EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT thinking, and together they produce an overt behavioral routine that is called SUPPORTIVE and CONSTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. The threefold self runs off a series of positive habits consisting of a positive feeling coupled with emotionally intelligent thinking and acted out as constructive behavior. This is a second option.
The "red bridge" (look at the diagram again) connects the negative and positive portions of the upper half of the diagram. The bridge is shown to connect negative thinking to positive thinking because we have voluntary control over our thinking process, and much less control directly over our feelings. The idea of this approach is that if you voluntarily change your negative thinking into positive thinking--a choice we always can make--then the negative feeling will soon turn into positive. Then the new positive feeling coupled with the positive thinking together will produce the new overt behavior. At that point you're living the new option and you've been successful in switching over from the negative option.
Of course this may not last long since a few minutes later a new situation or concern comes along and we can be thrown back into the negative spin cycle. But now we can use the bridge technique again and get ourselves moving in the positive spin cycle. Eventually, with daily practice, we will learn to switch to positive as soon as we observe ourselves in negative mode. In this way we change our life and our personality for the better. The bridge technique gives us a choice to customize our options to suit what's best for us and society.
You use the red bridge to cross from negative thinking to positive thinking, from emotionally impaired thinking to emotionally intelligent thinking. Our ability to use the bridge technique is part of the socialization process that produces all our habits. The red bridge technique consists of talking to ourselves in a certain way so that we stop thinking negatively about someone or some situation and start thinking positively. We have the capacity to monitor our thinking and to note that it is emotionally impaired or biased. We can then replace this type of negative thinking routine with more objective and emotionally intelligent thinking routines. Of course to use the bridge technique we must be motivated to use the positive option available. Without that motivation we keep re-running or re-cycling the negative routines of the threefold self that we have acquired in the past.
Now look at the the third option of routines that is labeled "negative about the self" (at the bottom left). A general name for that category is DEPRESSION or INADEQUACY. These associated negative feelings about ourselves seek out and encourage thinking routines that are called PESSIMISTIC or CYNICAL. Feelings of depression are actually feelings of rage turned towards ourselves. Similarly, feelings of inadequacy are actually feelings of arrogance turned against ourselves. Rage against others or the world alternates with rage against the self, and vice versa. The rage-depression spin cycle and the arrogance-inadequacy spin cycle, represent two very common options many people take every day. Note that the feelings of depression-inadequacy combine with pessimistic-cynical thinking to produce the behavioral outcome called SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR. This is the third option.
The fourth option is located at the bottom right of the diagram. It is labeled "positive about self." In this state we are opting for feelings of enthusiasm and self-confidence which we have available due to our socialization process. These positive feeling states would not last on their own because they need to seek out and be connected with positive thinking habits called here optimistic and realistic thinking. The positive feeling states of enthusiasm and self-confidence act together with the positive thinking routines called optimism and realism, to produce the positive outward routines called SELF-ENHANCING BEHAVIOR. The healthy growth of our personality and character depends on our choosing this fourth option. Self-enhancing behavior includes mental health, discipline, orderliness, mastery, and coping. The well-adjusted, happy, and successful individual chooses this option more than the negative counterpart.
Here is the diagram again. After looking at it, see if you can reproduce it from memory by drawing it on a piece of paper.
Note the "blue bridge" in the diagram that allows us to cross from negative thinking about self to positive. The blue bridge represents our capacity to monitor our own thinking process and to recognize what is pessimistic and cynical in it. We can then question this pessimism or cynicism and substitute positive forms of thinking about self called optimism and realism. But optimism by itself could degenerate into unrealistic wish-fulfillment--which is in the negative category. This is why we need to combine optimism with realism to insure that we run off only positive thinking routines that correspond with reality. The blue bridge allows us to talk ourselves out of pessimism or cynicism and switch to more positive and more realistic thinking routines.
The idea is that as we make ourselves think positive things about ourselves, the positive feelings we have lying dormant will activate themselves since now they can act together with positive thinking routines. When we make ourselves think optimistically and realistically we create the conditions for bringing on positive feeling routines such as enthusiasm and self-confidence. Self-enhancing behavior will be the result when positive feelings of enthusiasm and self-confidence combine together with positive thinking called optimism and realism. The blue bridge may also help you flip-flop in positive zones. Just as rage and depression flip-flop or take turns, in the same way enthusiasm and self-confidence flip-flop with resolve and compassion, keeping us in the positive zones.
Your task in this project will be to monitor the negative options you tend to automatically select in particular recurrent situations every day, and then to use the appropriate bridge technique to switch to a positive zone. You will then observe to what extent the bridge technique worked out or not. Often we seem unable to cross the bridge due to the grip of negative feeling and thinking routines that appear to hold us there captive, and we seem to ourselves unable to get free of them. But at other times we succeed in crossing the bridge and changing the option that our threefold self is performing. Your self-analysis data will indicate when you are more successful and when you are less so. This is the purpose of the project. (Note: Your grade does not depend on whether you're successful or not when applying the bridge technique but on how you write up the project.)
What follows below further describes and explains the differences between the four options. The better you can understand these differences, the more accurately you can do this project and the more meaningfully you can write up your report. So it's important to re-read and study these instructions several times until you are able to memorize most of the material.
The Negative Spin Cycle
The diagram below summarizes what was said above about "the negative spin cycle." After looking at it, see if you can reproduce it from memory by drawing it on a piece of paper.
Note the one-way horizontal arrows showing the sequence of habits in the threefold self: the negative feeling states motivate you to select negative thinking sequences, and the two together produce the outward negative behaviors. The two-way vertical arrow on the left portrays the negative spin cycle that flip-flops between feelings about others/world, followed by similar feelings about the self, and then, recycling both ways keeping you in the negative zones.
Now let's summarize what was said above about "the positive spin cycle." After looking at it, see if you can reproduce it from memory by drawing it on a piece of paper.
The Positive Spin Cycle
Note what a wonderful life we would have if we kept recycling only between positive feelings towards others (resolve with compassion) and positive feelings toward self (enthusiasm and self-confidence). It's our choice. One of the topics you should discuss in your discussion section of your Report 2 is why we don't make this choice all the time, or even most of the time. How can you explain this rejection of a happy and productive life? Think about that.
Here is another view of the negative spin cycle, focusing more specifically on feelings states and how they connect with each other when we recycle them all day long.
The Others-Self Negative Spin Cycle
Note in the diagram above that rage and arrogance are both negative states towards others or the world, and similarly, depression and inadequacy are both negative states towards self. But there is also a specific relation between sub-elements. Feelings of rage flip-flop and are eventually followed by feelings of depression; then, feelings of depression flip-flop and are followed by feelings of rage. Similarly, feelings of arrogance are followed by feelings of inadequacy. It is the arrogance, when turned inward, that produces the feeling of inadequacy. When arrogance is turned outward, others are found to be inadequate in our mind and we want to criticize them and condemn them. When arrogance is turned inward, we make ourselves feel inadequate or flawed in some way. Raging against others eventually is followed by raging against ourselves, which is when we fall into a depressed modality. Then, raging against self is followed by again by raging against others/world. To avoid repeating this negative spin cycle over and over again we must use the two bridges. If we succeed in crossing one of the two bridges we then enjoy life in the positive spin cycle.
Let's look at a diagram that summarizes what was said before about the positive spin cycle.
The Others-Self Positive Spin Cycle
The diagram above for the positive spin cycle shows that feelings of resolve towards others and the world can be applied towards the self, in which case we are in the affective state of self-confidence. We cycle between feelings of resolve and feelings of self-confidence; similarly, we flip-flop between feelings of compassion for others with feelings of enthusiasm with one's life. Resolve refers to the determined motivation to do something about a situation. The flip side of this positive feeling is self-confidence, which is a kind of resolve towards our own inner world. Compassion for others is compatible with resolve. Compassion limits what your resolve is motivated to accomplish. Without compassion, resolve turns into rage or arrogance. When compassion is turned toward the self, it is called enthusiasm. The feeling of enthusiasm is the opposite of depression or dissatisfaction. Depression and dissatisfaction indicate the absence of enthusiasm. As soon as you cycle into the enthusiasm habit routine, depression and dissatisfaction vanish into a distant memory.
Now let's take a closer look at the two bridge-techniques.
The Two Bridges
Red is used to represent our spin cycle options involving others and the world. Recall the expression "I saw red" which refers to a negative feeling state of anger or rage. Red is also the symbol of passion and love. Anger is a negative passion towards others while compassion is a positive passion towards others. Both are red.
Now recall the expression "I feel blue" which refers to a negative feeling state of depression or inadequacy. Blue is the symbol for feelings towards the self. Negative blue for depression and feelings of inadequacy, positive blue for enthusiasm and self-confidence. The two bridge techniques are described in the forthcoming book Seeing Red, Feeling Blue by Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl.
Note in the diagram above that the bridge techniques is applied to the thinking or cognitive part of the threefold self. This makes sense since we can control our thinking in a direct way while this is not as easy to do with our feeling or affective state. Performing the bridge technique depends on two socialized abilities we all have. First, we are capable of observing or monitoring our thinking process, up to a certain point. Second, if we are motivated, we are able to activate what is in our memory in such a way as to run off new thought sequences that are INCOMPATIBLE with those going on at the time. For example, when we become aware that we are ridiculing someone in our mind (a form of rage or arrogance--negative red feeling), we can remind ourselves that this is unkind and unjust, and going along with this may corrupt our good character (applying the red bridge). We can also tell ourselves that if we ridicule someone now we are likely to ridicule ourselves later, which hurts, and may lead to depression or feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction (negative flip-flop cycle). We can elaborate even further on this emotionally intelligent rationale (red bridge), until we are prepared to accept a new appraisal of the person or situation. This whole event may take just a second or two. Now we no longer feel like ridiculing that individual. We may even experience a flip-flop into the positive blue zone, as we begin to feel good about ourselves, feeling new enthusiasm and renewed self-confidence.
In this way our feeling state changes from negative to positive, and our thinking from emotionally impaired to emotionally intelligent. This is the red bridge. The red bridge allows us to change the situation that surrounds us. Rather than conflict with others and waste of opportunity and productivity--which are the outcomes you obtain from emotionally impaired thinking, we can expect instead initiative, cooperation and productivity--these being the outcomes you obtain from resolve with compassion. The red bridge turns conflict into cooperation, and lost opportunity into productivity or success.
Self-Regulatory Prompts for the Red Bridge
The red bridge promotes productivity and leadership. As the diagram below shows, it consists in bringing up thoughts that are INCOMPATIBLE with emotionally impaired thinking. For example, you might become aware that you're thinking "He doesn't deserve my respect. I'm not going to get along with him." as this person makes a suggestion to you. You're thinking of denigrating things you can do to him as a way of pursuing your dislike for this individual. But then you decide to apply the red bridge technique to combat your biased and hostile thoughts. From your memory you can bring up several favorable things about this person. The moment you convince yourself that you have no data to the contrary and that your hostile attitude is not justified, your feeling state may change from negative to positive, from feeling hatred or anger to feeling resolve with compassion. You tell yourself you're going to make the effort and see if this person deserves your compassion and good will rather than just assume he doesn't. Already you might feel better as a result of the flip-flop cycle from positive toward others to positive toward self.
To cross the bridge in your mind you need to say to yourself appropriate self-regulatory sentences. You can prepare them ahead of time, write them on a reminder sheet, etc.
Here are some self-regulatory prompts for the red bridge. You can say them to yourself to <="color: red">strengthen your determination to do something constructive (resolve with compassion--option 2) rather than to remain in the destructive rage mode (option 1)--see if you can memorize them:
** order yourself to stop ruminating (the
compulsive rehearsal of how you're going to get even and retaliate)
** question your cold logic or negative conclusion by qualifying it, saying to yourself: "Not necessarily" or "Maybe, maybe not" etc. which help weaken the intensity of your negative persuasion
** make yourself think of relevant counter-information you've been ignoring so far
** restore balance by reminding yourself to think of both sides of the issue
** remind yourself that retaliation hurts people including yourself and it's not good
** remind yourself that all people have an inherent right to be treated with decency
** remind yourself that aggressive behavior won't bring you what you want
** consciously reject any fantasies of revenge as uncivilized and beneath you
** reject violence as ineffective in bringing about your goal
** reaffirm the human responsibility you bear to be fair and forgiving
** think of the consequences you will have to deal with and how much trouble that will be
** think of alternative options you have available
** figure out a more effective course of action
** communicate your ideas to the other person and try for reconciliation or compromise
** convince yourself it's better for you to forgive and forget insults
** put yourself in the other's shoes and try to picture their perspective (empathy)
** decide to gather more information before you act
** decide to consult someone before you act
** remind yourself that the way you appear in face and tone of voice is a visible message and counts as acting or doing
** act the opposite of what you feel and say nice things instead of not nice
** decide you're going to pursue this without anger but with resolve or determination with compassion
** etc. etc.
Self-Regulatory Prompts for the Blue Bridge
The blue bridge promotes emotional health and objective self-confidence. As the diagram below shows, it consists in bringing up thoughts that are INCOMPATIBLE with pessimistic and cynical thinking. For example, you might become aware that you're thinking "He doesn't like me" as this person turns down an invitation to lunch with you. You're thinking in a suspicious way about him, telling yourself that he is just giving an excuse for not wanting to be with you. But then you decide to apply the blue bridge technique to combat your pessimistic or suspicious thoughts. From your memory you can bring up several situations when your friend showed signs of liking you. The moment you convince yourself that you have no data to the contrary and that your suspicion is not justified, your feeling state may change from negative to positive, from feeling depressed or dissatisfied to feeling enthusiasm or self-confidence.
Notice that you can't directly make yourself feel enthusiastic or self-confident when you're thinking pessimistically or cynically. Pessimistic and cynical thinking are compatible with feelings of depression, dissatisfaction, or inadequacy and incompatible with feelings of enthusiasm and self-confidence. You can only feel self-confident or enthusiastic when your thinking is optimistic and realistic. The bridge technique works because it depends on your ability to change your thinking, and it does not attempt to change your feelings directly. But once the thinking changes, more compatible feelings are then encouraged.
The blue bridge lets you cross from option 3 (negative blue thinking) to option 4 (positive blue thinking). Negative blue feeling is an emotional state in which you try to persuade yourself that there is something wrong with you and you should feel bad or unhappy about it. This negative routine includes depression, generalized anxiety, and a pessimistic or cynical outlook on yourself as well as on others. Negative blue thinking is activated, supported, and reinforced by negative blue feeling.
To make use of the blue bridge you need to use optimistic self-regulatory sentences that create resistance in your mind to continuing with the pessimistic and cynical thinking. These self-regulatory sentences move you across to positive blue thinking by creating psychological resistance in your mind against pessimistic or cynical thinking.
Here are examples of prompts you can use to create resistance to pessimism or cynicism, and to facilitate the opposite type: optimistic and realistic thoughts:
** question your assumptions that lead to
** tell yourself you're catastrophizing in an irrational way
** tell yourself "Stop it!" when you witness yourself ruminating compulsively
** do a scenario analysis of the situation, writing down all the versions
** reject the idea that the worst is going to happen
** do a re-appraisal of the situation and find some good things about it
** go over in your mind what others have said to you
** remind yourself there's a big difference between fantasy and actuality
** remind yourself there's a big difference between possibility and probability
** tell yourself you don't want to be known as a cynical person
** tell yourself you don't want to be known as a pessimist
** reject any idea that you don't need anyone's support or that you are self-sufficient
** remind yourself that change is possible
** reaffirm your belief that you deserve dignity and love
** tell yourself you want to be civilized and not break things
** tell yourself you're going to feel better about yourself by switching emotional style
** tell yourself you're going to be more productive by switching emotional style
** tell yourself you have the capacity to be successful and your turn has come
** reassure yourself that you are capable and review your accomplishments
** etc. etc.
Now let's take a look at the four options in detail to see how each actually consists of many habits that act together. By studying these lists you will be able to recognize and correctly categorize what your threefold self is doing in any situation you are observing. See if you can reproduce most of the lists from memory.
Option 1: The threefold self is negative towards others and the world
Negative affect against others can be summarized under the category of RAGE or ARROGANCE. This refers to a desire or motive to hurt someone or to damage and destroy something. This emotional option includes a large collection of negative feeling habits towards others and the world such as:
** desire to harm or cause injury or loss to
someone for the sake of vengeance
** hatred or the desire to torture or kill someone, or to make them suffer
** wanting to condemn someone as worthless or useless
** wanting to discriminate against someone due to your prejudice
** feeling like throwing something or punching out in blind fury
** enjoying mocking someone or putting them down
** wanting to get someone into trouble out of envy or jealousy
** wanting to insult someone to make them feel bad
** wanting to hurt someone's reputation
** wanting to make someone feel dirty or ashamed
** sabotaging a group activity to get back at someone
** profiling people negatively on the basis of race, religion, age, or gender
** being indifferent to how your actions affect others negatively
** rejecting legitimate authority when you feel like it
** not caring about others when you expose them to risk
** allowing yourself to cheat or lie when you feel like it
** losing your temper but not feeling like apologizing for it later
** allowing yourself to loaf or not do your duties when you feel like it
** allowing yourself to miss appointments, phone calls, or be late
** feeling lack of sympathy for someone who needs your help
** allowing yourself to misuse things or be careless and negligent
** etc. etc.
Negative cognitions towards others are made of emotionally impaired thinking routines. This type of thinking process is biased, inaccurate, and irrational. For example, we might assume that someone wanted to insult us when in fact there was no such intention. It's common to make mistakes and exaggerate when we think in this faulty manner. Emotionally impaired thinking is encouraged or facilitated by anger or arrogance. When you feel rage or disdain towards someone, you begin to think in an impaired fashion, making the wrong assessment of the situation, losing the sense of reality. Negative feelings and negative thoughts always function together and support each other. It's common to be aware of our thoughts but most people are less aware of their own feelings. This emotional option includes a large collection of negative thinking habits such as:
** planning to take revenge or to retaliate no matter what
** engaging in fantasies of violence or torture
** thinking about all the things you're going to say to upset or insult someone
** compulsively going over and over again some past conflict situation
** using a biased train of thoughts called self-serving logic
** conveniently ignoring relevant information
** exaggerating or being inaccurate in order to justify our rage or arrogance
** keeping blinders on to maintain one's skewed thinking
** interpreting many things as insulting that are not meant that way
** not considering alternatives (rigidified thinking)
** maintaining an attribution bias that favors self and makes others to be always at fault
** putting things together in a false sequence that supports your side
** justifying something wrong we did instead of accepting responsibility for it
** discriminating against someone on the basis of their family, race, or religion
** rejecting something because it comes from an authority
** accepting something uncritically because it fits with one's prejudices
** thinking in a stereotyped way even if it's irrational
** maintaining views and attitudes without examining their logic, rationality, or consistency
** being suspicious of people without rational cause
** thinking badly of people from habit or amusement
** etc. etc.
Negative sensorimotor behavior does not occur by itself. It is preceded by negative feeling and thinking. For instance, if you're feeling anger towards someone (option 1) and you become aware of negative thoughts, you frequently act out your anger by behaving aggressively or destructively. You may feel like being violent in some situation in which you feel rage and at the same time think thoughts that justify and reinforce the rage. You are experiencing the spin cycle of option 1 back and forth for minutes or hours. But in other situations it's dangerous to express your hatred and judgment in overt action such as saying something or making an insulting face or gesture, or throwing something. In that case we inhibit the overt doing and our rage remains private.
Here are examples of negative red doing (sensorimotor behavior):
** hearing your voice as shrill or
** attacking someone in anger using your body, an object or weapon
** standing in a hostile or aggressive pose to threaten someone
** yelling at people to make them feel bad
** speaking with a sarcastic tone to insult someone
** gesturing insults or using offensive, mocking, or ridiculing language
** setting your face into menacing expressions
** writing an insulting or hurtful letter or note
** leaving an insulting message
** driving off in a hurry, screeching your tires to show you're mad
** driving fast to take out your anger on something
** making an irate phone call
** deliberately playing loud music to annoy someone or just due to lack of caring
** damaging property to retaliate or get even
** sabotaging something (throwing a monkey wrench) out of spite
** breaking your promise or commitment because you're mad
** etc. etc.
Make sure you have the main diagram of the four options pictured in your mind as you go through these lists. For your convenience, here is the diagram again:
Option 2: The threefold self is positive towards others and the world
Positive red feelings (upper right half of diagram) are perfect substitutes for
negative red feelings. All red feelings are "hot" or intense and powerful, but
it makes a difference if they are negative hot or positive hot. Negative red hot feelings
are associated with rage or arrogance (option 1). Positive red hot feelings are associated
with resolve and compassion (option 2). Resolve, or determination, is an intense
motivation for protecting something valuable to society, like a cause or principle you
feel strongly about. For instance, instead of complaining and getting mad, you decide to
do something practical to change a situation. Sometimes the feeling of resolve appears to
others as anger, but it's not. For instance, anger (or rage) is the strong desire to
punish, destroy or injure by an aggressive act, whereas resolve with compassion is the
strong desire to protect or support something by democratic or humanitarian means provided
by law and conscience. The feeling of compassion has to be added to resolve so that you
don't fall back on blind anger. Compassion is a feeling of support for someone who needs
help. It is the desire to assist, rescue, and protect what we consider valuable or loved.
The feeling of compassion includes the fear to injure someone, and so it is the opposite
of anger (the desire to hurt someone). Resolve combined with compassion
(option 2) is the perfect antidote to anger and rage (option 1).
Resolve combined with compassion (option 2) is the perfect antidote to anger and rage (option 1).
Here are examples that can help you better observe and describe your <="color:red">feelings that fall in option 2, called resolve with compassion.
** rejecting your impulse to be violent
or to injure someone or something
** promoting in yourself the feeling of compassion
** promoting in yourself the desire for peace or the desire to forget and forgive
** strengthening the desire to protect or promote something worthwhile
** honoring your commitment to do something constructive and avoid conflict
** not taking yourself too seriously when feeling offended
** seeing the humor of your predicament and laughing at the whole thing
** feeling sympathy or caring for the other person as a human being
** wanting to resolve the problem and reconnect when feeling separated
** not wanting to hurt the relationship by being angry or hostile
** placing trust in the system and relying on it to work itself out
** compelling yourself to act according to your higher values and principles
** giving yourself permission to reconnect by forgetting your pride
** feeling good about being fair-minded and civilized
** being ready to be conciliatory for the sake of peace and order
** feeling relief not to have to be angry any more
** looking after other people's comfort and safety
** exerting control over how much force is used when necessary
** fighting to protect what's yours without hatred or malice
** refusing to participate in activities that you consider harmful or unjust
** feeling responsible to carry out our duties and promises
** etc. etc.
Positive red thinking has to be compatible with positive red feeling and the two mutually support and reinforce one another. Positive red thinking is the opposite of negative red thinking and can be used to counteract it. This is called applying the red bridge technique. The negative and positive thinking are incompatible and cannot exist simultaneously in our mind with the same force so that one wins and inhibits or suppresses the other. When the negative thinking is strong or pervasive in our mind, the positive is weakened and stays in the background, rendered ineffective for now. This is called seeing red--which refers to impaired thinking due to negative emotions.
We have the ability, from a higher motivation of self-interest and conscience, to perform positive thinking routines in order to counteract the negative thinking routine we are performing in some particular situation. Emotionally impaired thoughts (option 1) are personal, skewed, inaccurate, and unrealistic, while emotionally intelligent thoughts (option 2) are social, objective, realistic, and accurate. Emotionally intelligent thoughts include stopping your negative thinking routines and making yourself run off positive thinking routines such as considering better alternatives you have in a situation, and their positive outcomes. These positive thoughts interact and reinforce positive feeling routines.
Positive red doing is to act in a supportive and constructive manner. This is the sensorimotor outcome of positive feeling and positive thinking acting together. Feelings of resolve with compassion seek out and encourage emotionally intelligent thinking routines, and the two together produce constructive and supportive behavior such as cooperation, friendship, and sharing. Examples include:
** hearing your voice as normal and
** acting safe and being careful of the safety of others
** softening your stance or expression so it's not perceived as threatening
** keeping your voice down and acting with civility
** speaking with a neutral tone that would not be considered aggressive
** finding something good to say, counteracting the negative
** showing patience and being accommodating
** keeping a pleasant expression on your face
** removing any insult, sarcasm, or condemnation when writing a letter or note
** leaving only polite and reasoned messages for others
** inhibiting any overt show of being mad or acting in anger
** driving carefully and lawfully even when you're upset
** postponing making an irate phone call, never making it
** controlling loud music (etc.) so as not to annoy someone
** being careful with other people's property
** cooperating for the greater good even when you feel like sabotaging
** keeping your promise or commitment even if you're upset
** etc. etc.
Option 3: The threefold self is negative towards self
The blue zone refers to the emotional lifestyle we have towards ourselves (bottom half of the four options diagram). There is a negative blue zone (option 3) and a positive blue zone (option 4). Depression or inadequacy is the title for a group of negative feelings towards oneself. Depression or feelings of inadequacy are forms of raging against oneself. It includes dissatisfaction that becomes obsessive. Also generalized anxiety and excessive worry. It may not be conscious, but these negative feelings towards the self are ways we make ourselves suffer, even to the point of destroying our happiness and sanity. Of course this is an irrational state of mind and it engenders irrational thinking routines called pessimism and cynicism. Pessimism is a type of thinking that involves unrealistic and exaggerated expectations of negative outcomes in our undertakings. Cynicism is a type of thinking that involves automatic suspicions and doubts regarding sincerity, goodness, and truth in ourselves (and in people generally). Pessimistic and cynical thinking routines are encouraged and strengthened by negative feelings towards the self such as depression, inadequacy, chronic dissatisfaction, excessive worry, hopelessness, and helplessness.
Negative blue feelings are experienced in many varieties that include self-hatred ("I hate myself"), desire to punish self ("I'm such fool. I could kick myself"), feeling guilty ("How could I do such a thing"), ashamed ("Oh, no, what are they going to think of me"), lack of enthusiasm ("Everything sucks"), and so on.
Here are some examples that can help you better witness and describe your feelings in option 3 titled depression and inadequacy--see if you can memorize them:
** feeling mad at yourself (calling yourself
** feeling compulsively ashamed or guilty and unable to stop
** wanting to hit or kick yourself (raging against oneself)
** wanting to punish and denigrate yourself
** feeling worthless
** feeling helpless
** feeling over-anxious or terrified about a normal event
** feeling that you deserve to be condemned or ridiculed
** wanting to cut or injure yourself
** wanting to break something that is of value to you
** wanting to throw away something that is dear to you
** wanting to die or disappear
** feeling totally discouraged and unable to stop
** feeling desperate and out of control
** feeling a lack of enthusiasm for everything
** feeling picked on all the time (without objective evidence)
** ignoring your conscience
** ignoring health motives, letting yourself go
** ignoring prudence, showing preference for high risk behaviors
** maintaining preference for a junky lifestyle
** choosing to associate with bad friends
** etc. etc.
Negative cognitions about self are characteristically pessimistic or cynical. Pessimistic thinking includes catastrophizing, which is the tendency to expect the worst to happen to us in some situation and to magnify or exaggerate the likely negative consequences. Cynical thinking is a kind of pessimism since it suggests that nothing is fair, noble, or sincere in what we do, or what anyone else is doing. Feeling depressed or obsessively dissatisfied engenders pessimistic and cynical thoughts. The feeling and the thinking agree with each other and end up on the same side, reinforcing one another and strengthening their bond. Together they can produce negative forms of acting out called self-destructive behavior.
Here are examples that can help you better witness and describe your pessimistic and cynical thinking routines:
** thinking that the worst is going to happen
** exaggerating how bad things are and scaring yourself
** compulsively thinking about bad things (ruminating)
** not thinking clearly, being inconsistent
** blocking out what others are saying or suggesting (skewed thinking)
** ruminating over something that happened and unwilling to stop thinking or talking about it
** elaborating on fantasies of doom and gloom
** thinking pessimistically (the possible becomes the probable)
** thinking cynically and doubting anything good and true
** thinking there is no higher authority than your own (cynicism)
** concluding that life just isn't worth all the trouble (suicidal)
** deciding you don't need anyone for support or approval (alienation)
** deciding there is nothing you can do about something (helplessness)
** planning to hurt your relationship with someone who loves or supports you
** thinking you don't deserve better (low self-esteem)
** etc. etc.
Self-destructive behavior is the overt outcome of combining negative feeling and thinking (option 3). The variety of such behaviors is quite large and they are familiar to everyone. They include loss of energy and motivation, the slowing down of the body, reduced activity and productivity, so that we fail to complete tasks or we deliberately make errors to sabotage the outcome, thus insuring that we lose. We also tend to engage in high risk behavior that is dangerous and destructive to ourselves. This negative sensorimotor behavior continues as long as the negative feeling and thinking continue to act together. In other words, as long as you continue to feel obsessed with your dissatisfaction and reinforce this feeling with pessimistic or cynical thoughts, you will act out some self-destructive behavior.
Here are examples that to help you better witness and describe self-destructive behavior routines:
** moving abnormally slow or feeling tired
all the time
** unable to complete tasks
** sustaining injuries due to carelessness
** engaging in high risk behaviors due to recklessness
** looking downcast, unhappy, discouraged, sad sack
** not taking care of your body
** overdoing or indulging in harmful substances
** purging (bulimia syndrome) or gorging
** doing dangerous and reckless things that are out of control
** deliberately spoiling your chances and insuring defeat
** etc. etc.
Option 4: The threefold self is positive towards self
Positive blue feeling towards self typically includes the feeling of self-satisfaction, self-mastery, and the desire to enhance your potential. It's the opposite of negative blue feeling. Positive blue feelings seek out and promote positive blue thinking routines. Positive blue feelings also function to counteract negative blue feelings so you feel less depression or dissatisfaction, if any. Positive feelings towards self include feeling enthusiastic, effective, productive, grateful or appreciative, and feeling more integrated and whole.
** feeling satisfied with your work
** feeling confident you'll succeed
** having a "Can Do" attitude
** not being afraid to stand up and be counted
** being motivated to improve yourself
** being motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle
** being committed to uphold your beliefs and values
** feeling hope or certainty about your future
** feeling respect for what's good and true in yourself
** feeling enthusiastic and full of vitality
** feeling motivated to protect your best interests
** etc. etc.
Positive blue cognitions are optimistic as well as realistic. They are compatible with positive blue feelings such as the feeling of self-mastery and self-confidence. Optimistic thinking counteracts pessimistic thinking, and instead of expecting the worst, one ranks the possible or likely outcomes of any event in terms of their probability or likelihood of happening. Positive thinking is not only optimistic but realistic, objective, and rational. Switching into positive thinking about self is called the blue bridge technique. Some illustrations:
** thinking about what is likely to happen instead of what one fears
** giving yourself the benefit of the doubt
** questioning your pessimism and cynicism
** arguing with your negative position
** making yourself stop thinking about something negative
** deliberately trying to figure something out instead of jumping to conclusions
** examining what others are saying about your situation
** thinking that you deserve respect as a human being
** thinking that with practice you can achieve your goal
** etc. etc.
As always, the doing or acting out in the sensorimotor domain is an outcome of the affective (feeling) and the cognitive (thinking) domains acting together. Positive sensorimotor behaviors include a variety of self-enhancing routines such as:
** following regular and lifelong healthy diet and exercise programs
** acting with discipline leading to your goals
** maintaining good relations with others
** doing things that lead to success
** practicing good time-management techniques
** maintaining a neat or appropriate appearance
** exercising appropriate control over your budget
** making adequate provisions for the future
** preparing for challenging experiences
** practicing healthy habits and routines
** avoiding unnecessary risk
** acting in a prudent or careful manner
** taking steps to protect what's yours
** etc. etc.
Design of Your Experiment
Why do we want to know in detail what our daily emotional spin cycle is? The reason is that we can then control it or customize it to our preference and rationality. The coping and successful person learns to control the spin cycle. At this time the majority of people are reporting daily feelings of anger and depression--see survey at this address: http://www.aloha.net/~dyc/rage-results.html. This means that most of us are choosing the negative options many times each day in our activities and interactions. There is a habitual and automatic flip-flop effect between the red and blue options, either negative or positive. For instance, after choosing the rage against others option (1), we find ourselves automatically sliding into the rage against self option (3), which is a state of depression or dissatisfaction. This rage-depression flip-flop is a sociogenic habit we have from our socialization. Similarly, there is a flip-flop effect for the positive options: feelings of resolve with compassion towards others (option 2) spins us into feelings of resolve for ourselves, which is called enthusiasm and self-confidence (option 4). Vice-versa, feelings of enthusiasm and self-confidence flip-flop into feelings of resolve with compassion. Both these habit mechanisms are portrayed in the diagrams you saw above. They will help you understand and memorize the mechanisms involved.
Here is the design of your project:
Week 1: Baseline observations:
Sample activity A (negative red): day 1 || day 2 || day 3
Sample activity B (negative blue): day 4 || day 5 || day 6
Week 2: Intervention--practicing the bridge technique:
Sample activity A again: day 1 || day 2 || day 3
Sample activity B again: day 4 || day 5 || day 6
You can repeat the above experiment with two additional weeks and different sample activities (this is optional).
The purpose of the experiment is to enable you to map out the negative spin cycle options you choose in some of your recurrent daily activities, and then to use the bridge technique to move your spin cycle from negative to positive options.
You need to select an activity that you do on three consecutive days every week--so this limits the choices. Examples include: Getting up in the morning; doing things at home (cleaning, fixing, cooking, etc.); driving to work or school; performing your job tasks; going shopping; talking to someone on the phone; watching a particular TV program; studying or doing your homework; and other such recurrent activities you do alone or in company. The activity could be short (just a few minutes) or long (several hours), but it must be recurrent or routine so you have to face the same psychological issues every day. At the same time, the activity you select must have elements that fall in the negative category (options 1 and 3). One sample involves an activity in which you feel, think, or do something negative towards others and the world (negative red--option 1). Another sample should involve option 3: negative towards the self (negative blue). So you need to select a daily recurrent activity during which you can observe yourself run off negative routines towards others and self. Activity A must be negative towards others and the world (negative red) while activity B must be negative towards the self (negative blue).
You start with sample activity A on day 1. You need to take notes of your actual feelings, thoughts, and doings or use a tape recorder to dictate them. Be sure you end up with enough of a sample of what you are actually feeling, thinking, and doing in the selected situation. You also need to explain the context so the activity makes sense to the reader.
To keep a record of what you are feeling:
Ask yourself: What am I feeling right now? What do I feel like doing right now? Usually you get an inkling of what it is and then you can describe it: I feel like jumping off the roof; or, I feel like smashing something; or, I feel I'm being denigrated; I feel totally hopeless; etc. Keep writing things down as long as that feeling lasts--seconds, minutes, or hours. Be sure you distinguish between what your are feeling and what you are thinking. Sometimes we need to use a metaphor to describe what we are feeling. There may be several ways of describing a sequence of negative feelings. Be sure to study the lists given for options 1 and 3 to help you observe the feelings.
To keep a record of what you are thinking:
Give an approximate transcript of your thinking sequence in the selected situation. Obviously, we think several or many sentences in any situation in a brief period of time. Try to write down as many sentences as you can or is feasible in the situation. Be sure to study the lists given for options 1 and 3 to help you observe the negative thinking.
To keep a record of your sensorimotor doing:
First separate what is invisible to others and what is visible. Ask yourself: What am I sensing in my body? Invisible sensorimotor routines that are negative include sensations of weakness or tension, pain or unpleasantness, heat or cold, and so on (see lists above). Then ask yourself: What can others see about me? Visible sensorimotor routines that are negative include what others can detect from your voice, choice of words, face, hands, gestures, posture, appearance of your clothing, smell, etc. Be sure to study the lists given for options 1 and 3 to help you observe the negative doing.
When you finish the first day with activity A, you repeat the process for day 2 with the same activity, and finally, the third day. Then you begin observations with activity B on day 1, and repeat for day 2 and 3. This is the end of your baseline observations--two activities observed on three different days each (see design above).
Now you begin your intervention week, doing the same thing as before. The only difference is that now you are going to apply the bridge technique.
You stick with the same two activities but now you are introducing an intervention we called the bridge technique in the discussions above. This time it's important to keep notes on how you use the bridge technique in addition to the feeling, thinking, and doing (as you did the first week). Write down what you actually said to yourself to move yourself over from the negative to the positive options, either red or blue. Then describe the consequences of applying the bridge technique: What was your feeling after the bridge? What was your thinking? What was your sensing and doing? These consequences may be immediate or longer lasting. Or, the bridge technique may not work out or may end up having no visible effect.
In addition to the above, you need to collect <="color:red">Global Ratings once at the end of each day:
_____ 1) What was my overall stress point today: (1=very weak; 10=extreme)
_____ 2) What was my overall level of satisfaction with myself today: (1=very weak; 10=extreme)
_____ 3) What was my overall level of dissatisfaction with others today: (1=very weak; 10=extreme)
_____ 3) What was my overall level of effectiveness or productivity today: (1=very weak; 10=extreme)
_____ 4) What was my overall level of coping successfully with my feelings today: (1=very ineffectual; 10=extremely effective)
_____ 5) What is my 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)
By collecting these 6 numbers at the end of each day you will be able to use a global assessment comparison between the baseline week and the intervention week.
For instructions on how to write up your report, see Report 2 Instructions.
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