Maintaining control of our emotions is essential. It’s critical when challenging your own beliefs. Learn how to use this simple tool will improve results.
The Emotional Check Process
The accuracy of research depends on our ability to be as open-minded and unbiased as possible. Incorporating this checking method into your research process will yield more accurate results and make the research less stressful. This process is beneficial when the investigation involves issues with your beliefs. Emotional checks are an essential quality assurance technique. It will ensure you base your decisions on evidence rather than emotions.
Many people use this tactic when they view social media because it contains divisive and inaccurate propaganda. So, you are likely to run into ideas and opinions that clash with your own. An emotional check process ensures you make better decisions.
Challenging our Beliefs
When we face ideas that conflict with our current beliefs, it creates a dilemma. And we react automatically to protect our sacred ground. As we mentioned above, this is also likely to trigger our “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction instinct.
When we cannot resolve the difference between our beliefs and new data that can cause a pain response, it will manifest as physical or mental pain or both. It causes headaches, back, and muscle pain, to severe anxiety and anger. It causes the psychological condition of cognitive dissonance.
Emotional checks guard us against doing flawed research because we get emotionally sidetracked. The goal is for common sense and logical reasoning to guide our thinking. Checking our emotional state as we go helps us to conduct better research. Conflicts are bound to arise, especially when we are investigating issues that involve our sacred ground.
On the positive side, these conflicts force us to face the fear we might be wrong, and this is where the opportunity for growth begins. Using these breaks will help you conduct sound research. It will help us face those fearful ideas, and it will increase both your enjoyment and accuracy. Here are the three steps to this process.
Calm The Active Mind
It’s a time-tested process to help regain and maintain your emotional equilibrium. It helps reduce the effects that our emotions have on our ability to assess and analyze data. Stopping regularly to evaluate our feelings ensures that we minimize internal bias. It’s easy to do, makes your research more accurate, and saves you time in the long run.
Sometimes it only takes a few long breaths to regain control. Other times you need to take a few extra steps to stop negative feelings from interfering with your reasoning. When you threaten the sacred ground of your belief system, it can trigger your fight, flight, or freeze instincts. When this happens, it releases hormones like adrenaline to power our muscles. The primitive mind takes over in this situation. So, this is why an emotional check process is essential to gaining composure. We need to calm the active mind and regain “emotional equilibrium.”
During this emergency crisis, the chemicals released by the body are harmful to our cortex’s higher thinking processes. Our brain has a built-in failsafe, it blocks blood flow when this emergency system is engaged, and we cannot engage the higher thinking centers needed for analytical processing. We do not make the best rational decisions in this state. Here’s how we can learn to control this triggering system.
Regaining Emotional Equilibrium
Step One — Calm the Active Mind
The first step in the emotional check process is the most important. Learn to pause every 15 to 20 minutes. Yes, that’s right, three or four times an hour. It seems like a lot of time. Doing so will help you summarize what you’ve just learned and give you the chance to assess how the new data affects your emotional state.
Ask yourself, how do I feel? A good practice is to set a 15-minute kitchen timer. Some people think stopping every 15 to 20 minutes is too much and too often, but it is a good practice. Once you get into the rhythm, it does not become intrusive. Regular emotional checks are a worthwhile preventive measure, and they ensure you are thinking clearly. It will save you time in the long run.
Whenever you engage in research involving your worldview, you will be grateful for these breaks. Sometimes we aren’t aware we are getting upset until it is too late. That’s why it’s better to stop and assess before we continue.
Similarly, whenever you feel anxious, angry, or fearful, stop. If you feel physical pain, stop! Don’t ignore the signs of mental or physical discomfort. Pain is how your body tells you something important that needs your attention. The effects of cognitive dissonance are real.
You can have adverse reactions whenever running into something which challenges your beliefs. So, when you become angry or fearful, stop. Otherwise, your research will not give you accurate results.
It’s important to remember everyone is susceptible to the effects of cultural programming. That’s why we take steps to control our feelings. When we are anxious, angry, or fearful, it will affect our thinking. So, it will distort our conclusions.
How long should you wait? Wait until you are reasonably calm. Everyone is different. It depends upon your reaction to the stimulus. If you run across something that tramples upon your sacred ground, then it could take an hour or more to calm the active mind. Some people need to take a break for a few days or even weeks.
Step Two — Write About It
Write about both the facts and your feelings. Use a spiritual journal to record your thoughts, then ask yourself some questions about your reaction.
- What is causing me to have such an adverse reaction to this data?
- Where is the source of the conflict?
- Why do I feel so strongly?
Then write about the answers you find when asking yourself questions. What you discover about your reaction is as important as the data.
Putting your emotions on paper clarifies the issues. It also gives you a safe outlet to express your feelings. It’s an excellent way to sort out the facts from your feelings about them. It’s an excellent tactic to regain emotional equilibrium and calm the active mind.
Step Three — Contemplate without Attachment
While you are waiting and writing, see if you can contemplate the issue without emotional attachment. It’s a way of asking questions about the new information while remaining calm. If you can’t think about something without becoming upset, then skip it. Think of something else.
Again, we use the tactic of putting our thoughts on paper. What does this new idea mean? Don’t immediately reject unfamiliar data. Think about it. Some people are better at this than others. If you can’t separate your feelings from the data, skip this.
For some people, this strategy helps lessen the emotional impact of data that challenges their beliefs. If you need to, go back to step two and write more about the facts and your feelings.
When Waiting Isn’t Enough
If you continue to have physical pain or anxiousness, it means you are suffering from cognitive dissonance. So, time away from the stimulus may not be enough to calm your active mind. You are wrestling with something that conflicts with your beliefs. Emotional checks won’t be enough to change hardwired programming. This kind of programming comes from one of two things.
First, find out if you are still exposing yourself to negative social programming. It will reinforce your current beliefs and increase the effects of cognitive dissonance. Second, realize the programming of opinions based on mythology and superstition is hard to break. When we accept superstition as part of our worldview, it can also impact our identity. It’s hard to change something that becomes a part of your self-identity. Here’s what you can do.
1. Talk to Someone
Find someone unbiased you can talk with about your dilemma. Above all, don’t seek support from someone likely to reinforce your current beliefs. It will only lead you back into groupthink manipulation tactics of self-hypnosis and group hypnosis. The person doing it may not realize they are a tool of the brainwashing cycle.
2. Reduce The Source
Eliminate or reduce the sources which reinforce your current beliefs. It is often the hardest step, that’s because group hypnosis manipulation tactics they use are addictive. The most common sources which support our worldview come from religion. Minimizing exposure becomes more difficult if religion dominates your life.
Take a break, if possible. Give yourself some time to process the information. Stop religious TV and radio programs. It will likely decrease your discomfort. Stopping the input of propaganda will help you make more rational decisions. Recognizing and eliminating the source of your conflict is an essential aspect of the emotional check process. Don’t overlook it. Minimizing your exposure to negative cultural programming is vital.
Take a trip and get out of your comfort zone. If you can’t travel, watch TV shows about traveling the world. The goal is to remove yourself from the influence of the cultural narrative. See how people live differently. See how they value things differently. New surroundings are an antidote for the effects of cultural programming. It will not only reduce exposure, but it gives you a fresh perspective.
5. Don’t Give Up
Continue to use steps two and three of the process above.
The Importance of the Emotional Check Process
With the world changing so rapidly, we can get caught up in our emotions. Learning to pause and regain control of our emotions is essential to our everyday lives. It’s a process you can use anywhere and anytime.
Using this process will make your research more accurate. It will save you time in the long term and reduce the stress of investigating challenging ideas. These brief breaks are the researcher’s quality check. They help to keep you on track.
Facing the data that conflict with closely held beliefs is hard inner work. It often brings up powerful feelings that trigger our “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction. When our primitive instincts are engaging, we must take steps to regain emotional equilibrium. When you learn how to calm the active mind, you will find other uses for this method. You can use it effectively during meetings. So, emotional checks are a necessity for everyone on the spiritual journey.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia