Posted by: Edward | January 9, 2007

Alexander Technique your Emotions

Damasio confirms my supposition that memories are emotionally tagged for decision making (144). He also discusses the use of this emotional decision making and how it functions in the case of blink cognition. Essentially the brain compares the current scenario to what has happened in the past and sends you the feelings of the outcome of various options. This makes one option feel better than another.

Damasio makes the claim that the sequence of feeling production goes stimulus, physical reaction (emotion) and last experience of emotion (feeling). He also states that feeling is a long process taking between one second and one minute to occur and extinguish.

The trick to emotional engineering is to recognize an emotional stimulus before it has time to cascade to a full blown feeling and interrupt and replace the physical actions of the emotional reaction. Further you could train yourself to always have the preferred reaction to the stimulus by associating them through a technique such as NLP’s anchoring. While feelings and emotions are useful and evolved because they served our ancestor’s well being and survival, what Spinoza called conatus, individual reactions can be disadvantageous particularly in our contemporary social context.

Take for example the scenario of the boss who habitually yells at his subordinates. Perhaps you have experienced this. You probably associated this stimulus with what is commonly called a negative emotion, the fight or flight reaction or activation syndrome. The problem is that in a work context you can neither fight nor flee your employer. This physical double-bind of reaction and suppression is a major component of stress and is very unhealthy over the long term.

If you were to notice the physical reaction of the oncoming emotions, generally a change in muscle tension, posture, facial expression and breathing pattern; you could interrupt them and replace them with the reactions of an emotion more appropriate for the situation before the feelings and ensuing thoughts overwhelm you. You could even precondition yourself to react in the manner of your choosing to your boss’s unpleasant habit.

Damasio, Antonio. (2003). Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc.

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