My mission is to educate the world about our innate emotional systems. The systems that guide and power our life. The systems that when blocked - impact our mental and physical health, and shortens our life span.
This is not self-help. It's never been more needed than now that we connect, enable, facilitate - for our own learning and to make a difference to others and our world.
150 years ago doctors didn't routinely wash their hands. One of the first modern doctors who worked out how important this was, who was criticised and ridiculed - Dr Semmelweis, was committed to an assylum for his beliefs and his powerful desire for change. (An sobering example of emotional systems not understood!). It is true that just 150 years ago the physiological systems that we now know so well, were not all understood by the people who cared for us and our children. And in fact the importance of them was ridiculed and undermined by the establishment.
Can you imagine a health care professional not understanding that parts of the body come together within physiological systems with particular functions? In just the same way, most of our health, education, and social care professionals are without a working knowledge of the emotional systems. Just as our 10 physiological systems have functions like regulating our internal environment, growth and metabolism (endocrine system) or breaking down food into nutrients we can use and dealing with the waste (digestive system); our emotional systems also have vital and life giving functions.
At the moment, these are simply not taught and they don't help organise our way of understanding or helping people. But the research is strong, emotional systems matter. Let's just start with the sobering thought that connection is more important for longevity than obesity, smoking and exercise... and we are lonelier than ever before. Our mission is to help people learn about and attend to these systems - for ourselves, for those around us and the world we live in.
Our emotional systems have evolved with clear and separate functions to help us navigate the opportunities and difficulties in our world. As the early systems evolved within animals with less complex brains, like reptiles, they function to help the individual live, to seek out much needed resources like food, water, shelter, and warmth, and to reproduce. Independent offspring at birth and solo hunting meant that they used were primarily focused on survival of the self. As animals evolved into social creatures who hunt, live, stay safe and rear young together, thus the emotional systems that evolved later function for both the survival of the self, offspring and community, where working together and cooperating are prioritised over competition.
This understanding works well with the idea that we have two drives that motivate our emotional systems, to be autonomous (independent, being ourselves) and to belong (to be a valuable part of the community, family, group). These drives can be attuned or in conflict and the way that we resolve these – flexibly or rigidly, compassionately or cruelly, can impact on both our personality and our mental well being.
All emotional systems can be used in the service of our drive for autonomy or belonging. For instance, ASSERTIVENESS to protect loved ones, CARE to look after ourselves. In the medium or long term, finding a felicitous balance will enable healthy development as well as building emotional and traumatic resilience. Having conscious access to our emotional systems creates day-to-day experiences which are connected, that make sense to us. In this way, a coherent life narrative is created. A narrative that understands the challenges, moments of weakness and triumph in the context of the powerful emotional systems at the heart of us.
Having conscious access to our emotional systems creates day-to-day experiences which are connected, that make sense to us. In this way, a coherent life narrative is created.
Squashing emotions is more likely to lead to a feeling rollercoaster which make no sense to us - with uncontrollable outbursts of feelings and periods of disconnection and flatness. The self and our place in the world can be fragmented and disjointed, without emotional systems as threads throughout our body and our lives, and learning at a young age to repress, diminish and ignore (solutions which can be the most successful in traumatic situations but don't serve us across a lifetime).
Instead, we encourage finding our way towards living a life which responds to the wants and needs of the self as well as the needs of others, a life that can be experienced as grounded, responsive and honouring all. A life that can be beset with difficulties, and yet, just as the DNA threads through each of our cells, our emotional systems can thread through all the pain, and learning, the loves and losses; to reduce the scarring and increase the sense of wholeness.
Aliveness means emotion. We move, we live. To move we need to know what to move towards and this is where emotion comes in. When an emotional system is activated animals get direction, motivation and clarity to respond to the situation they find themselves in. We humans have a pre-frontal cortex that enables us to integrate information from all the parts of our brains, to use our emotional systems whilst also being able to pause and choose the response we want to give. In this way, we are incredibly gifted, with this amazing cortex which can think a billion different things, and change our innate behavioural responses. However, our thinking can help us disconnect from our feelings for weeks, months or years on end, preventing us connecting with our direction and motivation. In these cases the gift we have for thinking and holding back our feelings is turned against us. To use our mind to connect our capacity for thought and creativity with the feelings we have inside – now this is truly what enables us to thrive.
To use our mind to connect our capacity for thought and creativity with the feelings we have inside – now this is truly what enables us to thrive.
Our experiences can also shut down our connection with our emotional systems and can prime us to shut down in specific situations. Early relational trauma might wire us to activate our SAFETY system in many of our later relationships, so instead of experiencing good enough relationships as safe, they can all be experienced as dangerous. So even without conscious awareness, we can find our ability to function is reduced because our mind is focused on our survival rather than playing, learning, caring, connecting, thriving.
Explore our site to find out more about our courses, our social media accounts on instagram and Facebook also share an increasing amount of information, encouragement and guidance about how to make small changes that make a difference. Start today, get to know your emotional systems and you will find gradually, or exponentially, the difference your conscious awareness of their existence makes in your life.
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