Good and bad feeling emotions are the perception by consciousness of the body’s/brain’s physiological biochemistry precipitated by cognitive activities.
Emotions have evolved over millions of years into a discernible identity for all living species not only to survive, but to thrive within this planetary existence called Earth. A parallel process, cognition, likewise, has been evolving into a discernible identity. But, the symbiotic relationship between cognition and emotion, which had become so successful within the multitude of species over Earth’s history, somehow has become convoluted within humanity’s cognitive construct of this unique and wonderful relationship.
9.1 The Grand Illusion Feeding the Dark Side of Emotions
Humanity’s current cognitive construct of emotions is illusionary. Emotions can not overpower reason, emotions are the result of reason. Note that the meaning of emotion from the Oxford Living Dictionary, (9-1) “A strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others” does begin to catch this cognitive/emotional relationship. But their following sentence examples seem to reaffirm emotion’s independent ‘stand-alone’ status:
- ‘She was attempting to control her emotions’
- ‘He began to drink heavily and seemed quite incapable of controlling his emotions.’
- ‘How could she have let him do this to her, to affect her this way so that she had no control over her own emotions?’
- ‘He said the crash had devastated the entire station and emotions were still raw.’
- ‘When he does react, he makes sure that his rational side is always in control of his emotions.’
- ‘Her emotions were too strong, too raw, for her to be able to suppress them any longer.’
- ‘He said he could never condone her reaction but her emotions were understandable.’
- ‘She loves the fact that there is an intensity about holidays that can spark strong emotions.’
- ‘She hated letting other people see her cry, as if it was a point of shame to possess human emotions.’
- ‘There has been an attempt to defuse aggressive emotions and any desire for revenge.’
Wikipedia, along with an extensive discussion, sums up this illusionary nature of emotions by: “Emotions produce different physiological, behavioral and cognitive changes” (Italics mine for emphasis) (ref. 9-2).
All the previous sections of this book have been an argument and explanation of a different cognitive construct of emotions: “emotions are consciousness’s perceptions of the body’s physiological biochemistry precipitated by cognitive activities.” Thus, the construct that emotions produce various physiological, behavioral, and cognitive changes is a red herring for our psychological, psychiatric and pharmaceutical detectives. And most importantly, their patients and the mental health profession suffer greatly with the perpetuation of this grand illusion as ascribed to by most of humanity.
9.2 The Emotional Guidance of What Feels Good Is Good
To recapitulate what has been stated earlier, the cognitive construct of emotional guidance evolved out of the necessary correlative relationships between cognition, physiological biochemistry, emotions and consciousness that promoted life throughout the ages. In the most basic biological sense, this means that what feels good is good. That is, cognitive activities that support a healthy, vital, and vigorous physiological biochemistry must feel good. Any cognitive activities that depress health, well-being and survival that would also correlate with the conscious perception of good feeling emotions instead of bad feeling emotions, would promote behavior contrary to the existence of the species. This basic biological play between good and bad feeling emotions grows extremely complex as humans have evolved an extensive and intricate cognitive neural circuitry to manipulate a multitude of cognitive facets and reflections of constructs, concepts, knowledge and awarenesses. But, no matter the complexity, the basic evolutionary correlation of health and well-being rests upon conscious manipulation of cognition and a return to good feeling emotions. Using one’s own emotions to evaluate one’s own cognitive iterations is called emotional guidance. The skill and gymnastics to manipulate these cognitive intricacies into joyous heath, well-being, power, and freedom for self and others is called emotional wisdom.
9.3 Emotional Guidance Gone Wrong
Often nature’s wonderful cognition, physiological biochemistry, emotions and consciousness correlation relationships have gone astray. Humans have evolved to be happy, joyous and healthy beings. Yet, this is far from our current status quo. An introduction to the how, where and why nature’s emotional guidance can go wrong is discussed in the following paragraphs.
- Aberrant and Destructive Emotions
The “modern” psychological cognitive construct of emotions believes in aberrant and destructive emotions. The premise of cognitive behavior therapy declares that emotions “produce” physiological biochemical changes rather than that they are the perception of physiological biochemical changes. According to this view, emotions are bestowed with a causal property such that they are falsely understood as aberrant and destructive – or the opposite – normal and constructive, and thus their evolved power of guidance is obfuscated. Thus, instead of emotions being used to guide cognitive activities, they are treated as a dangerous disorder that must be managed and controlled. This illusionary construct is ignorant of (1) the dependent nature of emotions on the cognitive processes of knowing, namely, perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, and reasoning (ref. 9-3) and (2) the influence of this cognitive activity on the physiological biochemistry of the body/mind, which (3) activates the emotional neural networks of perception.
- Management of Emotional Disorders versus Management of Cognitive Disorders
The whole content of this book is to empower individuals to use the evolutionary nature of their emotional guidance. Ignorance of this evolutionary attribute of emotions has led to erroneous cognitive constructs of emotional disorders and hysteria that overpower reason, which has resulted in a pharmaceutical approach to manage and control emotions. More insidious is the cognitive construct of cognitive management of emotions by which emotions are deemed to be empowered with a force and influence they do not have.
Yes, emotions change with the change of cognitive behavior in both cognitive behavior therapy and emotional guidance training, but the difference lies within the intent of these disparate theories. Within cognitive behavior therapy, emotions are in disorder and in need of management and if emotions cannot be personally managed, then pharmaceutical management of emotions is warranted. But, to artificially sedate and manipulate emotions is to falsify and distort consciousness’ perception and awareness of the body’s physiological biochemistry and thus, to falsify and distort the very awareness of the cognitive behavior or activities that this therapy purports to utilize for healing. This can generate a vast disconnect between emotions, cognition, and resulting behavior. This truly is creating insanity.
The intent of emotional guidance is to use emotions to guide cognitive behavior because emotions are reflecting the consequences of cognitive behavior on the body’s physiological biochemistry: any disorders and chemical imbalances or neural network abnormalities are due to these cognitive activities. If cognition cannot be personally manipulated with one’s conscious awareness of own’s own personal emotional state, then it is cognition that must be pharmaceutically managed, rather than emotions. What is retained in emotional guidance therapy is not a distortion but an honest and accurate emotional feedback of cognitive behavior or activities.
Of course, emotions can be sedated and artificially manipulated with chemicals or electronic implants. However, consider the analogy to using chemical pain management when setting broken bones after extreme physical abuse. Pain is a necessary consequence of physiological harm and abuse. Not knowing if one’s leg is broken would have dire consequences. Artificial pain management may be necessary during healing, but with these pharmaceuticals, there is also a keen awareness of further physical abuse and damage because of the lack of honest and accurate pain feedback. Similarly, any artificial emotional management must be temporary and also come with the keen awareness of continual and unrealized cognitive self-abusive behavior because of the lack of honest and accurate emotional feedback.
- Medication Addiction: Inertia – a body at rest…
How easy is it to come up with an excuse to not to go to the gym for some needed exercise? Exercise is wonderful for the body. Likewise, emotional guidance may be encouraging a change in cognitive behavior, but how easy is it to take a drink and numb the senses instead of exercising a change in cognitive activity? Actually, contrary to the interest of the pharmaceutical industry, millions of people successfully self-medicate this way and manage to navigate the potential pitfalls of addiction. But finding a successful prescription which acts only as a temporary cognitive/emotional band aid is not in the fiscal interest of the current pharmaceutical industry.
How easy is it to avoid the effort needed to question one’s own thoughts and values and to rework a lifetime of so-called ‘useful’ core beliefs? A psychiatrist explains to you that, “your condition is the result of an illness. You are not at fault but you must be responsible and take care of yourself and learn to manage your illness. Your responsibility is to now take these medications for your own benefit, maybe/probably/definitely for the rest of your life.” Your doctor doesn’t question his/her years of education, training and the millions of dollars spent on researching and reinforcing the paradigms of affective disorders, diseases, and illnesses. Who are you to question the seduction of pill therapy, which is only further reinforced when these drugs camouflage any emotional dissonance that existed as signals that you need to alter your own cognitive behavior? And to further dilute your powers of emotional guidance, the pain and agony of chemical withdrawal because of biological addiction and the ensuing suffering from not taking certain medications and drugs can be the final blow to the freedom and empowerment emotional guidance would otherwise promise.
An observer asks, “Why do you hit your thumb with a hammer?” “Because it feels so good when I stop!” is the reply.
The pain of self-cutting and self-burning creates a distraction from an internal emotional pain. It is also symbolically broadcasting outward this internal and hidden emotional pain. Emotional pain does not broadcast a need for sympathy and understanding to the world like a broken leg does. Also, “….it feels so good when I stop!” is an intuitive awareness that “my emotional pain should stop so why doesn’t it?” Why is it obvious that the self-abuse and pain from hitting your thumb with a hammer will stop when the behavior stops, yet the same concept is not understood with cognitive self-abuse. Emotional pain is telling you to stop beating yourself with your proverbial cognitive hammer.
Merriam-Webster defines self-indulgence as: excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetites, desires, or whims. This definition promotes the view that a self-indulgent person dives in and explains, expounds, and continues the emotional roller coaster ride by allowing their emotions to drive cognitive behavior. On the contrary, it is cognitive behavior which further drives and embellishes its own cognitive vortex, thus accentuating an emotional feedback reverberation loop. An emotional roller coaster may be fun at a concert, play, or show when it is enhancing emotional joy, but if the same uncontrolled self-indulgence activates hatred, envy, anger, depression or some other emotionally negative pattern of thought, it can be a disastrous ride through hell, very possibly resulting in a tragic ending of death/suicide.
Along with learning how and when to get on an emotional roller coaster for entertainment is the necessary knowledge and skill to get off and stop this self-indulgent cognitive behavior when desired. Also, allowing a book, concert, or play to drive cognitive emotional behavior for entertainment is ethically different than allowing a sales person or politician the same unrestrained control and influence.
- Camouflage, Deception and Trickery
The power of millions of years of evolution is within your emotional guidance system. Yet this power is a challenge to others who need your servitude for their own edifice. Culture, society, religion, government, education, psychology and your parents are major influences: within their weaknesses they impart weakness; within their strength is the possibility to educate, teach, and train emotional empowerment.
Camouflage, deception, trickery, entrapment, and many, many other cunning devices have evolved throughout the natural world and so to find these within humanity should be no surprise. Who has not been given a very believable sales pitch from an apparently honest and respectable person, only to be had? Sales and marketing have become a very powerful force of human nature. Affective realism is the concept that the emotions that I feel when observing an event, person, or object are also believed to be an inherent and intrinsic truth or property of that event, person, or object. Sales and marketing have become masters at creating the illusion of feels right for their own selfish interest and gain even to the detriment of their customer. This deception of personal emotional guidance must be acknowledged, understood, and be part of emotional guidance training and development within our educational institutions.
- Affective Realism Gone Really Wrong
A father hires a nanny for his daughter and the nanny turns out to be a sexual predator. The daughter keeps silent and her abuse goes on for years. The father, a very successful businessman and powerful lobbyist, rather than accepting responsibility for his inadequacy as a father and employer becomes a self-righteous crusader for “justice.” Regardless of how innocent or abusive the encounter, he initiates a lifelong crusade damning tens of thousands of people whose sexual encounters don’t meet his standard of propriety to a lifetime of punishment, pain, and suffering. He continues with no acceptance of the fact that all people, including sex offenders, have the neuroplastic capacity within their brains to change, reinterpret reality, and to recreate a beneficial new reality and quality of life for themselves and for all those around them. (ref. documentary film Untouchable: David Feige, director.)
Affective realism falsely empowers an event, person, or object with an inherent and intrinsic emotional truth or property of that event, person, or object. It is about them. It is about what they are or what they have done. It is their fault and responsibility that I feel this way (good or bad). And therefore, something must be done about them so I feel better.
Feeling good is necessary for biological health, vigor and well-being. But there is a difference in feeling better as in feeling less bad and feeling better as in feeling more good. Notice the cognitive construct of the blame game vs. the guilt complex. Blame feels better than guilt. It feels better to blame than to be guilty but they both feel bad. It feels better to blame than to admit inadequacy. It feels better to find fault within others rather than to admit one’s own personal inadequacy. It is easier to condemn and punish than to forgive and heal. One does not condemn a person who is physically broken and bleeding to a prison cell to suffer and die, yet a mind that has been abused and broken being condemned to further torture and abuse is considered just. This whole scenario is nauseating. The real crime is in society’s ignorance of not only emotional guidance training, but an understanding of the real pitfalls from lack of such training and development of emotional wisdom.
- Cognitive and Emotional Entanglement
The infectious enthusiasm of the Grateful Red, that is, the UW student section, is spreading throughout the 80,000 spectators as the traditional end of the third quarter ‘jump around’ begins to the tune of the same name by the group ‘House of Pain’.
Similar audience enthusiasm can be found at sporting events, musical concerts, and other entertainment performances around the world. This massive infectious quality of emotions can be found within even the smallest of interactions. It only takes two…. two on a dance floor is beautiful, but two in a suicide pack is tragic.
Cognitive and emotional entanglement is the infectious quality of thoughts, concepts and ideas to spread across a population. Fan support of their home team is fun. Mob insanity for a lynching is incomprehensible….to most of the world. The South’s enthusiastic unification into the Confederacy to defy the Unions’ usurping their righteous belief in slavery, Nazi Germany’s mass hysteria for Jewish extermination, and white America’s extermination of the Native American population shows how insidious and infectious thoughts, ideas, and beliefs may become unquestioned and acceptable patterns of thought and behavior. Again, the lack of emotional guidance training is horribly unappreciated.
Acceptance of the absurd and ridiculous may seem impossible but the brain, with its extraordinary neuroplastic adaptive abilities, makes the many socio-diverse populations possible. Inanities to one population are acceptable and unquestionable truths to another. Closed, untarnished and free from contamination by outside realties, segregated populations are free to evolve their own myths, constructs and truths….as in the conclusion that “I deserve death, simply for existing.…” rationalized below:
“The church also taught me the story of Jesus, the son of God, whom God sent to earth as a defenseless human infant. Jesus spent 33 completely sinless years on this planet, only to be brutally murdered as a sacrifice for me, because of me. I was born with my sinful nature and no matter how good I try to be, how many prayers I pray or Bible study gatherings I attend, I am ultimately a sinner ― and the wages of sin is death. According to the church, I deserve death, simply for existing. But the church also claims there’s good news! Even though I deserve death, Jesus’ bloody crucifixion and subsequent bodily resurrection saves me from a fiery eternal hell ― all because I believe this supernatural story and earnestly accept the gift of his grace. And because of this sacrifice, I owe him a lifetime of gratitude, worship and a commitment to follow his commandments (even though, because of my human flesh, I will always ultimately fail him) (ref. 9-4).”
So, the issue really isn’t the absurdity of one paradigm versus another, but what does an individual person do with what he/she believes:
- Does her belief that she and others are “always an ultimate failure” contribute to a life of emotional trauma?
- Does her belief that she deserves death turn into a belief that she and others deserve to be executed for lack of obedience to His laws?
- Should others die because they don’t express the appropriate faith as was decided during the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Hunts, the Jewish Holocaust, or the extermination and genocide of the Indigenous populations of the two continents of the Americas?
- Does all this belief and faith in death and deserving of death translate into a breaking point where somebody goes ‘crazy’ and burns up a church or shoots up a Synagogue?
- Or how about “just” punishment within the judicial system of the USA including capital punishment, that ignores neuroplastic changes within the brain which offer opportunities in rehabilitation and recidivism reduction.
Hopefully, the woman quoted above has successfully navigated through the dark side of emotional realism and has retained her humanness within emotional guidance and is living a healthy, wealthy, and joyous life.
- Core Beliefs: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (ref. 9-5)
The definition of a core belief can be very complex under the epistemological view called foundationalism, or a core belief can have a simple, useful definition of – commonly accepted thoughts and ideas held without question. I have done my best to outline how a commonly accepted understanding and definition, that is the core belief, of emotions has outlived its usefulness. Any discussion of emotions can and should be thought of in their simplistic sense rather than within some complex theoretical view, reserved only for a very highly educated few. Simply, there exists something commonly called emotions that we feel and it feels good or it feels bad. The great question is not really “how do you feel?” but “how do you want to feel?”
The flexibility of the mind, body, emotion, and consciousness relationship is confoundedly amazing to realize, as exemplified by the thousands if not millions of different societies around the planet over the thousands of years of human existence, each with their own unique beliefs, understandings, interpretations, and explanation of life’s realities. The core beliefs within a culture that are passed down through the generations can be very useful. The concept of reincarnation has allowed billions of individuals to find comfort within their difficult existence. But this same understanding of cause and effect surrounding life’s good and bad fortune can allow for the ignorance of possible, and very real, action available to individuals within their culture for their own upliftment and for the upliftment of their fellow humans.
Within another culture exists a core belief of just punishment for breaking the law. Within this discussion is a very real and complex debate of what is law and what are the grounds for its existence and what is just punishment and the grounds for its existence. These core beliefs are useful and have demonstrated great success in many cultures but the acceptance of such beliefs have curtailed the debate of how the core belief of forgiveness can be the mainstay of a successful culture. A developing new core belief and understanding of neuroplasticity – the concept that the brain can rewire itself to accommodate new beliefs and realties – leads to a frontier of law and justice without punishment.
Justification for the domination of one people over the other, for the enslavement of a people, or even for the extermination of a people has somehow always found a foothold somewhere within the human psyche. Even today, war wages, individuals are tortured, and children are ripped away from their families in the most advanced civilization ever to exist. This same culture justifies the deaths of the 45,000 people who die annually because of lack of heath care (ref. 9- 6) so the richest people in the nation can have even more wealth. As a world, the people in power justify more wealth in exchange for the deaths of 10 million children who die yearly from lack of heath care (ref. 9-7).
Because the brain has the capacity to rewire itself and adapt to accommodate the billions of individual families within the thousands of cultures around the world, a person can learn – and many have learned within a proper environment – to be empowered for joyous success without disempowering another’s capacity for joyous success.
Until the illusion of emotions is understood, power will always be manipulated by those who deem their own joy and success is dependent on taking from others or from the disempowerment of others.
9.4 “Reptilian” and “Mammalian” Cognitive Processors (Mind/Brain)
The “reptilian” mind is a metaphor for a very fast and reflexive cognitive neural network processor (brain/mind). Reptiles have been a very successful animal species on Earth, dominating the landscape for hundreds of millions of years, whereas modern human existence can only be thought of in tens of thousands of years and our domination of the planet in terms of a few thousand years (ref. 9-8).
Reptilian ethics is about an intuitive knowing with a lack of complex thought and rationale. It is reflexive and quick and where the fastest and strongest wins with a might is right ethical attitude. This is perfectly understandable in sports competition. And in the hierarchal structure within business and industry, quick decision making promotes inventiveness, creativity and growth. The next better idea can quickly displace an older, less profitable/functional better idea.
Mammalian ethics is a metaphor for a complex, and sophisticated cognitive mind/brain processor. Mammalian ethics is about thought and reason, a might for right attitude. It is not because I have the power it is right but what is right? If I have the power of deception, what is the right use of deception? If I have the power to decide, what is the right decision? Life is not so simple: there is a vast array of ideas and meanings to life in which ‘what feels good is good’ is a complicated ideal that needs deliberation and thought.
Again, with the lack of understanding, education, and training about emotional guidance principles, people can be subjugated and manipulated to support action against their own self-interest. It took WWII with the cost of 70-85 million lives to bring Germany out of its hypnotic stupor (ref. 9-9). Ideally, our government officials work for the benefit of all, not just for the favored few. Governments working to empower its citizenry to be healthy, wealthy, independent and strong feels right. Businesses’ developing, manufacturing, and producing products to empower its customers to be healthy, wealthy, independent and strong feels right. Henry Ford paid high wages so his laborers could buy his cars and all of society benefited and became wealthier. The health, wealth, independence and strength of a society is dependent on these same attributes existing within all the people living within the society: the proverbial ‘high tide lifts all boats.’
Ideally, reptilian and mammalian brains work in concert within the varying environmental demands. The great problem in our time is the reptilian control of mammalian powers. Control and deceit have become more and more sophisticated. A political discourse of lies, misinformation and deceit can be impossible to sort out. And the more lies there are, the less comprehensible is this discourse, which leads to reptilian politics based on an emotional effect of conflict and fear which weakens all of society. A mammalian inclusive, multi-agenda politics is based in a joyous and hopeful emotional effect, which strengthens and empowers all of society. For the good, the health, and the well-being of a society, it is now time to start teaching, training and educating the population about their own emotional guidance.
9.5 Out of Darkness: The Intentional Life
Emotional guidance is about coming to an internal place of emotionally feeling good. The brain/mind has such wonderful qualities of allowing. The ability of individuals to adapt into thousands of vastly different and complex cultures is astounding. But ultimately, a clash of ideals arises against society’s rules of behavior. Individual conflicts with statutory rules, class rules, house rules, and ‘my’ rules and customs are inevitable. But maybe here, what feels good is good has not gone wrong.
Compassion for one’s own family members may just seem natural, but stewardship of other people and beings of the planet can and should become just as natural. What need are the deaths of great whales, magnificent sharks, or ancient turtles satisfying? A rare life on this planet should be respected, glorified, and honored, not destroyed and harvested for its resources. Individual wealth and power may not necessitate a greater stewardship of others who occupy this planet, but wealth and power should not lessen one’s respect for the other beings who occupy this planet. Modern science and technology’s greatest gift to humanity is the capacity to respect the life of this planet. Might does not make right, but it does make for the capacity to contemplate what is right.
The greatness of the human life experience emerges from the flames of individual desire arising out of hell’s fiery conflicts on earth. Intention is forged in these fires. Emotional guidance aligns our journey with these new intentions. Each succeeding generation will have its own mountains to climb and waters to cross with their own stars to navigate towards. Intent is that guiding star; and it is our emotions that perceive its light. The more joyous the feeling, the more harmonious and powerful the wonders revealed through life’s journey.
- Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/emotion
- Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion).
- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Cognition: Thought Process. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/cognition-thought-process
- Elizabeth B. (2018, Nov. 11) My evangelical church is gaslighting me, but I refuse to fall for it anymore. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/evangelical-christians-trump_us_5bfc326de4b03b230fa57ae9.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA) (a film produced by Alberto Grimaldi) Director: Sergio Leone Director, Writers: Luciano Vincenzoni, Srgio Leone.
- Cecere D. (2009, September 17) New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage. The Harvard Gazette
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