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Emotional Intelligence

Image of parts of a brain. NB. This diagram is for illustrative purposes only. "Evidence is presented that the mass suppression of emotion throughout the civilized world has stifled our growth emotionally, leading us down a path of emotional ignorance." - Ph.D. dissertation by Wayne Leon Payne. We live in a society that often finds it hard to express emotions, or on the other hand people express "out of control" emotions in a harmful way. As a result, it is difficult to know how to deal with our feelings appropriately. Emotional health is just as important as our physical health, making emotional intelligence vital. By it we understand ourselves, build self-confidence and empathetically relate to others.

This page introduces a framework for understanding emotions. In order to communicate about emotions, we need to know what words to use. We have produced a list of common emotion words and grouped them into Emotional Brain States. An Emotional Brain State is a hardwired circuit in our brain that based on stimuli percieved from the senses produces emotions, bodily (chemical) responses and sensations, and directs the body toward specific actions. Another way to understand an Emotional Brain State is to think of it being like a "Frame of Mind." Have you heard someone say something like "I was in a state of shock"? or "let me wind down" or "change gears" after a tense day at work. These are all different ways we refer to our emotional states in normal conversation. We also have the ability to shift to another emotional brain state if it is more helpful for doing a different set of tasks. E.g. Someone may need to switch from a Seeking/Engaging brain state that was used while working on computer design to a Caring brain state before being able to have a conversation with a partner about his or her longings for greater intimacy.

Notice we mentioned, that the Emotional Brain States are hardwired in, meaning that everyone has these specific states. One author (Brent Atkinson) states that there are 7 emotional states. These are : Anger, Fear, Panic, Seeking, Caring Connection, Playful Connection and Sexual Connection. The Anger, Fear, and Panic brain states are PROTECTIVE of self. The Caring, Playful and Sexual brain states are CONNECTIVE with others. First we want to be aware of these emotional states and understand what they are trying to accomplish for us. The easiest way to answer this is to say that the protective emotional states are informing us of a perceived danger or blocked goal. The connective states are informing us that there is an opportunity to bond with other people.

Read on about the Protective Brain States

Photo Credit: shellgreenier on flikr.com.