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The Pattern of the Emotions

By Ken Ward

We are well aware that there are patterns in life. And there is a very interesting and useful pattern in the way our emotions change - both in the short-run and over longer periods of time. Even though this is a part of our human behavior, it has been missed for thousands of years. Only recently has it been studied by conventional scientists. Yet it is probably the most useful information about human interaction.

Each emotion exists in a group of three with two other emotions. One is higher and one is lower. When we learn this pattern in the emotions we can use it to support others and to understand progress and regression better.

If we identify the emotion that the other person is expressing and create a higher emotion in the group of three, then we will make the other person happier. If we express the lower emotion, the other person will go down the emotional scale. If we express other emotions, it might not have any effect at all.

In this article we will look at how we might go down in emotional tone during a lifetime. This may be the better way to understand the scale.

Babies tend to express one of 4 emotions, called (rhythmically): mad, sad, glad or afraid. As we learn to control our physical being then we express a greater variety of emotions based on the primitive four. As children we can express great happiness and joy and approach life with wonder and enthusiasm as we encounter new things. The sparkling raindrop, the falling snow, the sunbeam ... Everything is fascinating and joyful.

As we grow older and gain disappointments an disillusionments then we begin to express lower emotions. We no longer respond to new things with excitement and enthusiasm, but we become more careful and limit ourselves to what we know about and to what we have experienced before. We begin to limit our enthusiasm. We have been bitten too many times!

As time goes on, we respond to life with a sort of boredom or ennui. We enjoy the familiar and the commonplace. We aren't interested in anything new and we do not get excited about things. We experience a pleasant monotony or boredom in life. As the years pass, we begin to get angry in some way. At first we might tend to argue over things. Not in a nasty way, but we become an arguer. We resist most things and think of objections and problems. In fact, we enjoy this state (as in some way all emotions are enjoyed!). We might even experience full-blown anger as a normal way of existence.

Again, after a longer or shorter time, we begin to hold back our arguing and our anger, and give the impression of being very civil and supporting, wise and mature. However we are hiding our wrath and protest from others. We become a secret enemy and enjoy sneaky ways. We love to see others suffer, but we hide our pleasure behind apparently sensible and caring words and some would think we were the highly ethical and enthusiastic person we used to be. But hidden carefully from everyone, even ourselves, there is the anger and bitterness of having dropped from our state of enthusiasm and happiness, of having abandoned so many hopes and dreams.

There is further to fall! As we encounter more loss and disappointment, we begin to be afraid. We are afraid of living and afraid of dying. Fearful of everything. And then we fall to being sympathetic. We try to cope with our loss by feeling sorry for others, especially those who are worse off than ourselves. In fact, this is all we are really interested in. We want to feel sorry for others and seek out people we can be sorry for.

At any emotional level we have a main area of interest. At anger, we are interested in shouting and quarrelling. At enthusiasm, we are interested in new and exciting things. At sympathy we are interested in the suffering.

Again with the passage of time, we sink into grief. We feel sorry for ourselves, the world, and others and we cry for them. At sympathy we can remain above sadness, but now we are experiencing it fully. Like the strong emotions fear and anger, grief does not normally last long in its outflowing stage. And if it is suppressed, the person drops down into apathy.

Apathy is like a lower form of ennui or monotony. The individual is apparently unaffected by anything. It is a kind of death, and death is the next level down. Apathy can be seen walking in the gambling halls not caring whether they win or lose and heading for disaster. No amount of argument works on them.

There are many ways to deal with this scale. One way is to express an emotion that is just above the one the other person appears to be manifesting. To an apathetic person we would express deep sadness. To a sad person: sympathy and consolation, and so on up the scale.

After recognizing the subtle manifestations of another person's prevailing emotion we can use our knowledge of the pattern of emotions to express the next one up. This is the only thing the other person will respond positively to (he or she will be influenced by the same emotion and the lower one, but not in a positive way).

If we do this we can really make a difference and learn not to be taken in by those who are really hostile, but conceal their emotion. A knowledge of the pattern of emotions and how to use this knowledge may be the most effective and powerful interpersonal technique we can ever learn.


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