Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Emotional Threshold

This is such a simple concept that I am surprised I could not come up with this years ago. It will surely help me moving forward in my life as it helps me understand better the nature of people. What the essay does not do is provide answers, only observations.

The first premise is that we all feel emotions regularly. Emotions: 1aobsolete: DISTURBANCE b: EXCITEMENT
2 a: the affective aspect of consciousness : FEELING b: a state of feeling c: a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.

All people deal with emotions in different ways. Sometimes we have the ability to manage our emotions and continue to make our decisions and plot our course in life using a balanced combination of our logic, intelligence and emotions. In other instances, we can become so emotional that our emotions actually dictate our decision making. The area within where we make decisions based on logic and intelligence is what I refer to as the emotional threshold. Outside the ET is the danger or red zone.

Everyone has a different sized ET. People who are stronger and can handle more of life’s pressures have a larger ET whereas people who let their emotions rule themselves often have a smaller threshold. You can imagine the threshold as a spherical membrane that inside, your movements are dictated mostly by logic and intelligence, and outside, by emotions. It has been my observation that the emotional decisions most always are destructive and rash.

The emotional threshold does not always stay fixed in size throughout our lives. In fact, it is often expanding or contracting depending on our individual make up. For instance, two different people can be exposed to the same circumstance. A soldier who goes into combat may experience a series of extremely stressful and horrific events. If he survives and enters normal life again, he may have a completely different outlook on stress than he had before. He may be able to cope with the daily stresses and strains of life far better thereby having an enlarged ET. On the other hand, some soldiers come home and experience just the opposite. They have a diminished ability to cope with anything. Everyday life can become unmanageable. His ET is now substantially smaller.

In relationships, it is most likely that each person has a distinctly different size ET. Imagine that the smaller threshold lies inside the larger. The area that exists in between the outer of the smaller and the inner of the larger is generally still a safe zone. It is when the emotions get so high in the smaller that they breach both thresholds is there the greatest danger. It is like a bullet traveling at high speed. It is almost impossible to stop and will most likely do some serious damage. I have observed in married couples that the trigger for many women is the children. That is, when there is an issue with any of the children, that can catapult a mother outside both thresholds.

When the mother is in the danger zone running on emotions only, she has the ability to pull the father into the red zone also. I have seen this exact event destroy one of the strongest marriages I have ever seen. Making decisions for the benefit of children can be extremely stressful when the parents don’t agree on a course of action. Agreeing is difficult due to one parent being in the ET and the other out in the red zone. But I believe that cooler heads will always prevail and this necessitates an individual to make every effort to stay in their ET.

An extreme illustration of different sized emotional thresholds would be between a very young child and a parent. Little kids are most often outside their tiny ET. It is up to the parent to keep order. In adult relationships, sometimes one or both parties revert to childlike behavior. It can be difficult to have positive movement in these situations.

Part of having a larger emotional threshold is being able to channel the negative energy created by strong bad emotions into something positive. For instance, during many of my more emotional times, I have gone to the gym to work out. This activity helps me clear my head and plot a solution to what is stressing me. In the event that I can’t figure out the solution, I am still doing benefit to my body. This in itself helps my mental state as I know that I am making my body strong. That makes me feel better and keep me inside my ET.

If you understand the simple concept of the emotional threshold, you may have the ability to deal with people as they are letting their emotions dictate their actions. We all know that words can be very damaging. If you understand that the words may be coming from the red zone, you can take them in stride. Don’t let those words bother you too much. One of my favorite examples is of the little child who does not get what they want. They tell their parent(s) that they don’t love them anymore. If a parent took these words seriously, a family unit could be in jeopardy. If you develop the ability to accurately evaluate a person’s ET, you can detect with a high degree of accuracy when the words or actions are being guided by emotions.

Of course, there are exceptions for every rule. Since we are talking about emotions, the word RULE is nearly impossible to apply. However, there are instances when a rash emotional decision has resulted in a positive outcome. Conversely there have been plenty of decisions made with a high level of balance in logic, intelligence and emotions that have turned out to be bad decisions. Humans are imperfect by nature so again, there are no rules here, just observations.

In conclusion, it is my belief that it far better to have a larger emotional threshold. It is equally beneficial to understand that when you are dealing with someone that is outside their threshold, to maintain composure. Don’t over react and don’t hold the actions against the person to the point where it hurts the relationship. Instead, try to assist them in growing their threshold. This would be a much higher form of life awareness in my opinion.

Life is too short to live in stress. Live and love harder, forgive quicker and don’t let words hurt you.