Maintaining emotional equilibrium is an important part of the research process. It’s essential when the research involves your own beliefs. Learn how to use this tool to improve results.
An emotional check is a process to assess emotional equilibrium. It helps to minimize the effects that our emotions have on our ability to assess and analyze data. Stopping to assess ensures that we minimize internal bias.
The accuracy of research depends on the ability to stay as open-minded and unbiased as possible. The emotional check process will make researching more accurate and enjoyable. This is especially true when the research involves your beliefs. So, these emotional quality checks will help keep you on track. It helps you avoid emotional decisions.
Many people use this tactic when they view social media. That’s because this medium is becoming more divisive. So, you are likely to run into ideas and opinions that clash with your own.
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. This is also likely to trigger our fight, flight or freeze” reaction instinct. This reaction is a psychological response we know as, cognitive dissonance.
In fact, attempting to reconcile the differences between conflicting beliefs and data causes a pain response. This pain manifests physically, mentally, or both. It causes everything from headaches to severe anxiety and anger. This stress affects our ability to reason. We are more likely to make emotional decisions.
Emotional checks guard us against this happening. After all, we want our research guided by common sense and logical reasoning. So, checking our emotional state as we go helps us to decrease these conflicts.
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 us conduct sound research. This will help us face those fearful ideas. It will increase both your enjoyment and accuracy. So, here are the three simple steps.
Step One — Stop
Pause your research every 15 minutes. Ask yourself how do I feel? A good practice is to set a 15-minute kitchen timer. Some people think stopping every 15 minutes is too much, and too often. But this is a good practice. Regular emotional checks are a worthwhile preventive measure.
When engaging in research involving your worldview, you’ll 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, stop if you start feeling anxious, angry or fearful. If you feel a physical pain stop! Don’t ignore the signs of discomfort. Your body is telling you something needs attention. Cognitive dissonance is real.
This can happen to anyone when they run into something which challenges their beliefs. So, when you have a negative emotional reaction, 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 emotional state. When we are anxious, angry or fearful, it will have a negative effect on our research.
How long should you wait? Wait until you are reasonably calm. Everyone is different. And, it depends upon your reaction. If you run across something that tramples upon your sacred ground, then it could more time. 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 journey of self-discovery. Then, ask yourself some questions about your reaction.
- What is causing me to have such a negative reaction to this data?
- Where does this conflict come from?
- 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 emotions. It’s a good way to sort out the facts from your feelings about them. This is a good tactic to help you regain emotional equilibrium.
Step Three — Ruminate
While you are waiting and writing, try to ruminate. Ruminating is thinking about the data without emotional attachment. It’s a way of asking questions about the new information while remaining calm.
Again, we use the tactic of putting our thoughts on paper. What does this new idea mean? Don’t reject the idea. 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 to 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, you are likely suffering from cognitive dissonance. So, time may not be enough. You still know something that conflicts with your beliefs. This is likely caused by one of two things.
More than likely it’s because you are continuing to immerse yourself in a cultural narrative which reinforces your current beliefs. Or, possibly because you’ve run into has major consequences for your beliefs. Here’s what you can do.
1. Talk to Someone
Find someone unbiased you can talk with about your dilemma. This could be difficult if your circle of close contacts is a part of the belief system you are researching. Above all, don’t seek support from someone likely to reinforce your current beliefs. This will only lead you back into the tactics of groupthink manipulation. And, 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. This is often a difficult step. That’s because groupthink manipulation tactics are addictive. The most common sources which reinforce beliefs come from religion. Minimizing exposure becomes more difficult if religion dominates your life.
Take a break if possible from meetings and social commitments. Stop religious TV and radio programs. When you cut back the input of propaganda, it will decrease your symptoms of discomfort. And, it will help you make more rational decisions.
Take a trip. If possible, travel and get out of the area. Remove yourself from the programming in the cultural narrative. See new things. New surroundings are an antidote for the effects of cultural programming. This not only reduces exposure but it gives you a fresh perspective.
Engage in proper self-care.
5. Don’t Give Up
Continue to use steps two and three of the emotional check process above.
Using emotional checks will make your research more accurate. It will save you time in the long term. And, it will reduce the stress of investigating challenging ideas. These short breaks are the researcher’s quality check. They help to keep you on track.
Facing ideas 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.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s Book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia