Emotions not Thoughts
Emotions come first and thoughts follow. This means that if you wish to heal mental distress, you must focus on the emotion and not thoughts.
Emotions coming before Thoughts is the route to mental healing
Emotions not thoughts – it’s that simple.
Understand emotion as the enormous mass of an iceberg below the surface of the ocean. And thoughts are that small portion of the iceberg that is in view. I confirm this profound truth everyday in my therapy room. If you can quieten down the emotional storm and then focus on using emotions well – ie to get that life working better, then healing will happen.
This post is my take on what Emotions are all about – of how Human Givens synthesises what is known.
Explaining Emotions (a ten minute talk)
Emotions are the fuel that drives action
Having understood that human beings are living entities that spend their existence in taking action to get essential needs met, it is the emotion that flows and courses within us that is the energy that drives that action. You could say that without emotions, there would be no movement at all and we would not be alive.
Emotion as the expectation of action
The word emotion gives the game away. It is about motion and movement.
So anger is the expectation that you will have to defend yourself, in response to a perceived threat. And the looking forward to a pleasure is the opening to relaxing and enjoying.
Emotions are an information system
This system transmits signals to our action centres so we can respond to what we find in the environment – or as potentially subtle and sophisticated sensors that connects to our processing system that takes in what it needs to in order to make sense of what is happening out there.
Metaphorical pattern matching
Pattern matching is the key mechanism by which this all works, which is central (though I hasten to add, not original) to the Human Givens approach.
We all understand the infinite variety of the world by seeing it as being ‘like’ something else and this ‘like’ is stored as a pattern in our unconscious memory bank.
And as we make a connection with this pattern – an emotion will arise to communicate to us – intuitively if you like – so that we can make sense of it and if necessary act on it.
Pattern matching is the means by which we can make sense of what we find in our environment – by matching that up to what we have already processed and stored before.
Pattern matching is always metaphorical as we will never have been able to exactly replicate what is now happening from our past experiences. What we have stored is “like” what is happening now.
The crucial aspect of pattern matching is that all matching is tagged by an emotion. And thoughts? Well they just follow along behind, like a faithful dog.
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