We are born crying, not because we are hungry or out of pain, but just to be held. We are social creatures, to the extent that we will even opt to forego food or experience pain just to connect or stay connected with someone we care about. So why is connection so difficult? Why do we sometimes feel we are not enough to be loved? Why do we sometimes feel hopeless or broken?
We see things through emotional lenses which are tailored to assess unique aspects of value. One emotional lens is not enough to see and understand life, ourselves, or others. I propose there are seven aspects of value which match up with our seven emotions. Emotions are neither positive nor negative. Emotions are merely the conclusion of our intuition of the pivotal aspect of value in a situation and what general or fundamental approach to make.
The seven emotions and corresponding aspects of value are:
1) Contempt - functionality/purpose
2) Sadness - accuracy/reproducibility
3) Surprise - exploration/perspective
4) Happiness - response/continuity
5) Anger - stability/strength
6) Fear - protection/preservation
7) Disgust - excellence/transcendence.
It is possible to survive operating in life using only one emotional lens, but not to thrive—to thrive we must actually see and understand life, ourselves, and others, and to do that we must to use all seven emotional lenses proficiently. This means we have to take time to reframe a situation, in order to consider all seven aspects of value instead of just impulsively reacting.
Each emotion is experienced as if through one of the senses. 1) contempt -chills, 2) sadness - sight, 3) surprise - taste, 4) happiness - hearing, 5) anger – touch, muscle tone, 6) fear – stomach churning/twisting, 7) disgust -smell. The general approaches, or fundamental actions which our emotions suggest are: 1) to receive, 2) to refine, 3) to expand, 4) to incorporate, 5) to hold, 6) to take, 7) to give.
We intuitively match emotional lenses through posture, tone and terminology to show openness to connection. This doesn’t mean that we should scrutinize our posture or words in response to someone else; the emotional lens is not the only variable in the equation of connection, and it’s not one that is easily faked. If we just try to be fully present with someone, we naturally will match their emotion. Since matching emotional lenses is an intuitive action, we likely only notice we are doing it after we have already started. If we don’t naturally match emotion there is probably a reason. For example, we are likely to match emotions with a friend who is venting, but less likely with someone who is just complaining.
There is a reason confidence is such an attractive quality and desperateness isn’t, because odds are we would rather match someone’s confident emotion outlook rather than match their desperate one. It is not a coincidence that when we are single or in the job market, that either no one wants us, or suddenly everyone wants us. Does this mean we should always be confident even if we are unsure? Yes and no… The key is to have positive (productive) emotional states which I call interpersonal tools, and avoid negative (counterproductive or misdirected) emotional states, which I call interpersonal weapons. Of the twenty-one interpersonal tools, confidence is not one, because it is not specific to one emotional lens, it is a component of each tool.
A large step in psychotherapy was the discovery of transference, which is the principle that our neurotic tendencies manifest in pretty much all that we do. By neurotic I mean, certain actions that somehow by-pass our better judgment. Neuroticism doesn’t come from a part of us that is trying to sabotage our lives, but rather gaps in our perception that prevent us from being able to make an informed decision. We operate on a combination of assumptions we make, and assumptions others tell us. As we test these assumptions, coincidence and conformation bias are hard to exclude, and so faulty assumptions are not always easily debunked.
Once we feel we have proved an assumption’s usefulness, we allow it to operate automatically, like all of the complex movements in walking that we don’t think about. Therefore, we have several ideas operating almost completely automatically, which means that the stress they cause is unlikely to be traced back to them, because we don’t think about them much when we do them. By reframing a situation, it makes it easier to narrow down and identify the cause of a stress, and challenge the assumptions that lead to it. We have consistent stresses in our live that we have a difficult time pinpointing the source, because we typically frame certain situations in the same way, and neglect to reframe them considering other aspects of value.
When we talk about our problems, our version of the story is obviously flawed, otherwise the solution would be self-evident as we layout the story… our problem is often obvious to those listening to our story, or at least the gapping hole in our narrative is. This discovery of transference allowed therapists to not rely on the stories of their patients, but the way that the patients interact with the therapist. In the lingo of my theory, I would say that our favorite interpersonal tools and favorite interpersonal weapons are the ones we use most often, and that once we discover what our top three favorite weapons are, we will know what has caused almost all the conflict in our life.
The word science comes from the Latin word “scire” which means, “to know.” We are born with the tools to understand the world, but not with a readymade understanding of things. This process of understanding things is science, and since life doesn’t come with labels or instructions, the only way to understand one thing is to compare and contrast it to another thing. To make the process of comparing and contrasting faster and more efficient, humanity has made an attempt at creating standard for measurements like weight, time, volume and distance.
What to do in a situation is not usually immediately apparent, and so when we do something, what we expected to happen can be quite different from what actually happens. This usually is the case when an aspect of value we didn’t consider, was more important than we thought. Though discouraging, when our expectations are undermined by factors we didn’t consider, afterwards, we will know to consider them. As we gather this sort of data, we come to understand things to the point that what we expect to happen, happen. We can reduce the gap between what we expect to happen and what actually ends up happening. Essentially that is the definition of science, “conditions of reproducibility.”
Frustration comes from undermined “will,” and if we make a science of analyzing and testing the interdependence of things, nothing will frustrate us. Stress is strain on our “will,” and that cannot be completely avoided, but will abate significantly when we stop pushing against ourselves. Both in testing assumptions, and in recording results, the way that we describe or measure the conditions and the results is very important to improving.
I have an odd example that illustrates quite well what good can come from identifying and standardizing the different aspects of value in life. Technological advancements have been improving at an exponential rate over mainly the last two-hundred years, and it follows a similar course of the process of understanding things better. In the evolution of measurement, doing what seemed most practical, lead to a more profound understanding than anyone could have guess. Weight started as a way to keep prices of simple commodities consistent, and once weight became exact enough, it gave us clues to the fundamental building blocks of life. Likewise, being practical about reframing a situation in seven different aspects of value, leads to a more profound understanding of mind and emotion than we could have guessed.
In 1795, the gram was decreed in France to be "the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to the cube of the hundredth part of the metre, at the temperature of melting ice". It is not a coincidence that not to long after precision in measurement was taken seriously, in 1815 Amedeo Avogadro was able to find the connection between the arbitrary measurement of a gram, to how many molecules were in that gram, which has been incredibly useful. In chemistry ratios are very important, for example water, has two hydrogens for every oxygen—because of this, for many reactions, measurements have to be very precise, and weight became the best way to understand and use those ratios.
So why is the history of measurement important? Because just as there are several ways to measure something, weight, height, width, speed, etc, in order to compare and contrast one thing to another, we have seven different aspects of value and criteria of logic to use to compare and contrast one thing to another. In 1999 a spacecraft was created in order to orbit Mars, but because two different companies involved used different measurement systems, this lead to failure of communication with the spacecraft, and it subsequently was lost in space. Similarly, conflict happens between two people when they are both using different emotional lenses, because we will see things pretty differently if we are comparing and contrasting different aspects of value for the same situation.
Measurement of weight has changed over the years since the earliest records of the “deben” which is an Egyptian measurement of weight. Many records from ancient Egypt were about measurements of goods and services than any other thing. Specifically, most records where about measurements of wheat, which started as an arbitrary amount—initially determined by the amount someone could carry or fit into a container someone happened to have, which size then became standard. Today we have weights based on numbers of atoms, or even sub-atomic particles. Similarly, what starts off for us as an arbitrary measurement of stability, safety, functionality, accuracy, continuity, excellence or perspective, as we use those measurements to understand and operate in life, we will find the fundamental units similar to atoms that value and logic are made out of.
We make claims of things regarding aspects of value by giving things descriptor words. Sometimes we say something is best or worst, but don't say in what. This implies that we just assume others are seeing the same aspect of value in it we think is most important. For example, a group deciding where to go to eat, by saying, “I know a good restaurant,” one person could strictly mean, “I know an affordable restaurant,” meanwhile another person thinks by good they mean “great taste or service.” This happens so often, that when some says something is good or best, we have to think about previous occasions they have said something was good and assume they are using the word in the same way. It is often not difficult to guess how someone means “good,” or “best” and that shows that we consistently look at things with the same aspect of value, to the point where the influence of our identity (or bias in preferences) often supersedes our language… especially when we don’t qualify what we say with adjectives that address objective aspects of value. Trust is fine, and the less important something is, the less needs to be said about it, but because sometimes we don’t know what’s important to other people, we might as well communicate as best we can… and by best I mean, communicate with the most functionality, accuracy, perspective, continuity, stability, protection and transcendence possible.
When there is a conflict, it is likely that we were not communicating well about one of the interpersonal tools. I have derived these twenty one interpersonal tools from the seven emotional lenses, and I believe that conflict is usually a question about their nature:
Fairness, Forgiveness, Open-mindedness, Kindness, Enthusiasm, Compassion, Appreciation, Teamwork, Prudence, Curiosity, Love, Perseverance, Acceptance, Hope, Leadership, Humility, Creativity, Social intelligence, Honesty, Investigation, Humor.
How do we measure these?
When we tell someone that something wasn't fair, what standard of fairness are we basing that on? When we claim that someone was unkind, what standard of kindness are we measuring with? If the nature of kindness is universal, why is there ever an argument about it? An argument means one person is claiming another person’s measurement is wrong—that their measurement better approximates the actual nature of the aspect of value or criteria of logic. This means that theoretically if we all came to a consensus of the nature of aspects of value and criteria of logic, how they compare and contrast, and how to know which is the most important one in each situation, there would be no argument and there would be no conflict. I am not proposing a social movement to achieve that, but merely pointing out what would happen if enough people took this individual journey to explore the objective nature of value and logic.
Just as precision in measurements is one thing that has facilitated many other discoveries in science, so to can understanding the way we measure things improve our ability to understand and navigate through life. When building something, after taking the time to draw up plans, and then taking the time to measure things out, it is pretty nice when the pieces end up actually fitting together. How often are we able to get what was planned in our head to actually happen? Too often our expectations fail us, but if we understand what we are measuring and how to measure, what we plan can materialize.
It’s not a matter of just expecting nothing or expecting little, but putting all the tools we are given to form the most accurate and useful expectations. We should make expectations, tons of them, but not hold them so tightly that we break trying to hold them together. Every failed expectation leads to a greater ability to make accurate expectations.
We have a tendency to approach situations the way we feel most comfortable instead of how we think would be best. What we feel comfortable with, is just what we happen to have experience with, which is mostly just what life has thrown at us. We have a choice to let familiarity, or logic and value govern our choices and shape our ideals. The ideals we work towards and taboos we avoid often have more to do with what happens around or to us, than some innate or authentic desire.
We tend to run towards ideals so intensely and avoid taboos so dramatically, that we are so busy running that we miss the subtle innate or authentic thoughts and feelings. That little voice inside of us can’t speak as loud as the myriad of opinions pressing on us from all sides. Choosing what opinion is loudest is not the reason to listen, otherwise we will become just an echo of the loudest part of society instead of be what we have potential to be, which is quiet the voice inside us of reason and love.
We get so caught up proving we are ideal and not taboo, that we are distracted from considering what we authentically want to do. Likely experience has suggested to us that what we find value in only has value to us, and even sometimes has negative value to others. This would lead to the logical conclusion that either our ability to sense value is broken, or everyone else’s is… which makes it hard not to second guess ourselves, or at least do what we want to do while also showing others what they seem to want to see. The problem with that is that nothing can be completely proved because we can’t force someone to consider what we see as facts, especially not an identity, which is not a fact, because everyone sees us differently. We should focus on doing things we see value and logic in whether or not anyone else validates it.
All aspects of value are important in every situation, but one in each situation is pivotal, because the most pivotal aspect of value is the one we use to determine which action to take first in a situation; the order of actions can be important. This is another reason our assumptions of things can be off, is because even having all the right ingredients, using them in the wrong order can still have things fail… leading us to blame the ingredient when it was just the order that was off.
If an action is good, it should be positive or productive in at least one aspect of value, and neutral or positive in the other six. Some things look positive when only seen through one or two aspects of value but are negative in the rest. If someone else is doing something we see no value in, odds are that we are both looking at it with different aspects of value. It’s not possible to do something bad for bad’s sake, anything we see someone else do at least has one positive aspect of value in that person’s mind, whether it is naïve, negligent or not.
Value and logic are two very different things—value often defies logic. Value says that we should jump in the water to save someone drowning because of the value in human life, logic says not to risk losing two lives instead of just one. The order of which aspect of value is most pivotal and least pivotal in a situation changes, but the order of feeling, thinking, and doing doesn’t change. Intuition or emotions assess assets or value, and intellect applies logic or reason. We can’t apply logic to nothing, the asset is the goal for logical to push towards.
Intuition is non-linear thinking, it suggests where we should go, intellect is linear thinking, it suggests how to get there.
What should happen in the case of a person drowning, is our intuition says it is worth it to save the person, and then our intellect figures out the best way to do it; this might mean throwing some type of flotation device, or jumping in. If we determine that jumping in to save the person has value, that leads to the next application of logic. Do we swim to them from behind like a lifeguard would, so they don’t flail and accidently push us under the water, or is it okay to swim directly to them because it’s a child that doesn’t weigh enough to push us under even if they tried?
Each step isn’t something we have to sit down and think about thoroughly, but giving it a second or two could make all the difference. Our intuition works so fast we don’t even see what it is doing—it almost immediately gives us an answer of one of seven fundamental actions to take. If we have only one second to act in an emergency situation, it would be best to spend it by letting our intellect determine how to best carry it out, instead of wishing it hadn’t happened. Our intuition works much faster than our intellect, but our intellect works much faster than our body’s ability to respond, this means we always have at least a split second to think.
If we only listen to our emotions, or only listen to our intellect we are only using half of our potential.
As long as there is more that we don’t know than what we do, it is what we don’t know that affects us more than what we do know. Actually listening to what our emotions are suggesting helps us tackle what seems like an impossible question: “How do we figure out what we don’t know we don’t know?”
Once we reframe a situation using each of the emotional lenses, it helps us figure out what we didn’t see before through just one lens. It would be hard to explain all of life just by smelling it or just by tasting it. Even just by sight, without any other sense, the world would be pretty confusing.
We are born with all seven emotional lenses, but we have to practice using them. In the beginning phase of learning how to use an emotional lens, we often feel inadequate and would rather avoid that lens and use one we are already better at instead. That means whatever one or two lenses we happened to learn first, are the ones we likely try to use for everything. Just as when learning how to draw as a child, things don’t look on paper like they do in our head, the general actions that emotions suggest often look different when we try to carry them out. For example, anger instead of assertiveness which is what it is, looks like aggressiveness. Sadness, instead of accuracy looks more like pessimism.
We can survive without a few emotional lenses, like not being assertive or investigating life, but we can’t thrive without them.
Emotions are a communication from our intuition to our intellect, but all too often we use emotions to project them on others—this is opposite of what they are for, and it’s no wonder that out of the seven emotions, the English language doesn’t even have positive words to describe them. Five out of seven emotions have negative connotations although all seven are neutral.
Our emotions are not trying to create chaos in our life, they are suggesting a general way to approach a situation based on what aspect of value is perceived to be most important. Our intuition perceives value, then suggests a general approach to the intellect which is communicated via an emotion. Then the intellect which perceives logic, identifies the risks, and lastly our will-power formulates and employs a plan. Whether or not our intuition assesses well enough what aspect of value is most pivotal in a situation, ignoring it won’t help it get any better. It is best to at least consider how the general approach the emotion was suggesting would play out. What the intuition is basing the general approach on are assumptions, and as our intellect sets logical expectations on those assumptions, they can be challenged and refined. When we try to hold onto our expectations despite reality proving them wrong as the expectations fail, it causes intellectual pain. Trying to guard assumptions from being challenged causes emotional pain.
The intuition sees assets in life like an artist sees potential and wants to add to it. It suggests an approach to a situation by adding. The intuition seeks the type of things we would want written on our gravestone, the things that are taboo to boast about, but that we love being complimented for. The intuition strives to leave a legacy of meaning. It is that feeling that says, “where can I add something of value?”
The intellect on the other hand sees logic like an engineer correlates and then removes risks by eliminating weaknesses. It suggests an approach to a situation by subtracting something. The intellect seeks the things we feel make us capable, and which we use to define ourselves to others as what expertise we have to offer. It is made of the things that merit title, doctor, professor, mechanic, etc, which all remove things, like illness, ignorance, or car problems.
Albert Einstein illustrated the difference between these two mental functions when he said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” The intuition adds value, and the intellect performs a service. There are many possible ways of labeling these two functions, the giver and the fixer, the value and logic, or adder and subtractor. Though they are separate functions, we all have both for a reason, and we should help both functions work together.
These two general adding and subtracting functions, apart from their general functions, are specifically seen through each of the emotional lenses—this creates seven different ways to approach a situation by adding, and seven for subtracting. If we don’t really think about what to do in a situation, we usually only see two possible approaches. Seeing fourteen possibilities gives us more options, but even better, our will-power has the ability to take the best from the adding and subtracting approaches and form a new plan. The will-power is the executive function, and each time it forms a combination of ideas from the intuition and intellect, both the intuition and intellect are improved by seeing how the two separate things they perceive, value and logic work together.
To find out more that we don’t know that we don’t know about life and ourselves, we can look into what triggers us about something. If all we know about something is that it triggers us, that means there is something we are not seeing that we could if we look at closer. Contentment has the pre-requisite of gratitude, and composure has the pre-requisite of integrity, but pain has no pre-requisite—this is why it is usually the first part and sometimes the only part of a situation that we perceive. Often it is easier to notice ways that we are conflicting instead of ways we are or could connect.Though we cannot force it, there are many things we can do to facilitate connection.
There are four pitfalls which separate us from understanding life and connecting with others:
1) Entertaining impossibilities
2) Distortion from ego-centricity
3) Bias towards what we think we can control
4) Infatuation with sensations, and personification of
Bridges can be built over those pitfalls for each situation. Building and crossing these four bridges crosses us over those pitfalls, allowing us to go from the first stage of awareness, victim stage, where connection is not possible, to the fifth stage of awareness where we can fully connect.
We aren’t moving backwards or breaking despite how bad off we feel—it is always the case that going back in time to face the problems we had a year ago, we would handle them better. It is easy to be hard on ourselves because we seem to slip and fall, but that is only because the more we become aware of, the more we have to deal with. The saying “ignorance is bliss” isn’t the answer. It’s too late to go back to being naïve, our only option is to push forward to awareness and understanding.
I hope you will consider what I propose in this book and put it to the test. I believe that your experience, intuition and your own reason will prove my theory valid and useful to have more contentment and composure in your life. I hope the Anatomy of Mind and Emotion helps you as much as it has helped me.