Wednesday, June 7, 2017

LOVE POWER

Love increases endorphins – (you may know this). But that’s not all love does to us. Love also increases nitric oxide, (no, not laughing gas –that’s nitrous oxide – confusing I know!) Nitric oxide reduces blood pressure, improves blood circulation, and decreases clotting as it relaxes your arteries. In the brain, love activates areas associated with motivation, focused attention, making positive choices and taking care of yourself. 
Love also deactivates pathways in the brain responsible for negative emotions such as fear and social judgment. Aside from being an explanation for why we say 'love is blind', it also explains the many reported acts of heroism and kindness by ordinary people in recent terror attacks and disasters here in the UK. 

There are many different types of love (seven according to the ancient Greeks) but they all release chemicals and activate specific parts of the brain that propel us to connect, to care, and to take caring action. Of the different types of love studied over the centuries, the love of humanity, selfless love or what the Greeks call Agape, is often referred to as the highest form of love and I imagine that this is the type of love we see expressed in distressing times. It is the antidote to terror and facilitates clear and values-based thinking. Feeling such love gives us more clarity of mind and forward-thinking insights than any of the fear-based rhetoric we are also currently exposed to. Love in its highest form is not a touchy-feely approach, it actually makes us smarter. This is a biological fact*.

When I was seventeen, I read the first of what would become an endless array of books and papers on the subject of love, ‘The Art of Loving’ by psychologist Erich Fromm. It inspired a lifelong fascination with the subject in its many forms, a fascination which is just as strong today as it ever was, not least because of the one factor that has been present in every single book, study and paper: that loving is part of the inherent human condition. We are innately programmed to love in all its forms, whether physiologically, neurologically, or otherwise by some means we have yet to discover. Fromm famously claimed that love is not something that just happens to us, it is a decision we make.

So, in this time of hate and self-interest all around us, to feel love and compassion for the victims of horrendous acts of terror and violence is a no-brainer and for most people comes quite naturally, but how, you may ask, can we ‘make the decision’ to sustain those feelings of love in the process of seeking solutions, when it feels so much more natural to slip into anger, even fury? I admit, it does take a conscious intention, and a decision to refrain from what feels like the ‘natural’ path. Ironically, acknowledging the anger and other emotions you might be feeling is the first step, regardless of whether you choose to channel those emotions into a more positive force. However, acknowledging doesn’t mean getting stuck in the emotion. It is equally important to ask yourself whether the emotion is working for you; i.e. is it depleting your health or enhancing it; fogging your brain or helping you think clearly and creatively; is it helping you achieve the outcome you want?

Making that observation and then making the decision to change to a more productive, constructive emotion (and yes, you can change what you feel), to channel the emotion into a positive force, that decision is the first and most important step you can make. The choice and intention to act from state of centred love, must surely be the only way forward.

A famous quote by Jimi Hendrix might be an appropriate conclusion: “Only when the power of love overcomes the love of power will the world know peace.”

*For references and information on research please email us at office@AppliedEmotionalMastery.com


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

THE SHE CODE

        
          "Something is rotten in the State of Denmark'" so says Shakespeare's fictional character Marcellus in 'Hamlet', and for some reason this sentence keeps popping into my head. It seems eerily relevant to the current state of (almost) our entire world. The way most people feel on a regular basis - whether while on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or otherwise taking in the latest news bulletin - is unsafe, untrusting, and uneasy. It has gone beyond the remit of this blog, beyond issues of emotional intelligence and mastery (or lack thereof). However, we at Applied Emotional Mastery™ feel compelled to address it anyway, because it IS about emotions and the inescapable ramifications emotionally, of governance, of all leadership. But it is also beyond any one person or ideology. It is the result of a system of leadership, a code of governance that has created a world where hyper-individualism trumps any form of collectivism (no pun intended!), where outward-focused consumerism has become a value, where social isolation and alienation has taken the place of trust and community. This world we have created today is the result of a failed and imbalanced leadership approach, a governing system that, although it plays out in many different political forms around the world, is essentially one system; a system that has been in place for thousands of years, (so you can’t say it hasn’t been given a fair chance!) In fact for more than five thousand years we have prioritized and lauded a masculine paradigm of leadership, by means of patriarchy and other assorted devices of domination. This system has valued - and still values - ‘power over’ versus ‘power with’, physical strength over emotional resilience, thoughts over feelings, logic over intuition, materialism over relationships, measurable achievement over all-inclusive fulfilment, individual success over collective development. 
      Enough already! It is time to change, time to accept we need a different leadership approach. I mean really different – NOT just another patriarchy with a different spin. We need to step outside the limited box of possibilities created by patriarchal thinking and open up to a wider view, one that gives equal value to both male and female qualities.

         To us working in the field of human emotion and development, the obvious first step is to create more balance in our approach to leadership. This does not mean more women in leadership positions or looking at all the other popular feminist actions steps (valuable though these all are), but to look at the inherent value we place on the feminine and the perceived feminine qualities. It does mean to reclaim and restore the formerly undervalued and suppressed leadership qualities; the power of emotional understanding, empathic thinking, affirmative connection, collaborative communication, and appreciation of cycles – all of which are rooted in an increased value of feminine wisdom, and of which we are all capable, men as well as women.
         Historically, these so called ‘feminine’ attributes have been undervalued and perceived as less important than their ‘masculine’ counterparts, especially in leadership, which we believe is at the core of solving our global challenges. For these qualities are those that build human resilience, create mutual care, nourishment and support, and provide collective strength and buoyancy in the face of any and all adversity. They are traits we need to not only recognize as vital, but consciously cultivate as equally important as the qualities that give us assertiveness, ambition, competitiveness and absolutism that we currently give precedence to.
         Having worked for more than a year now exploring and identifying these feminine qualities and principles, we have coined them collectively as the She Code (a ‘code’ being defined as a system of principles that represent or determine a specific behaviour or approach.)
         Currently we are working on offering an ontology for a practical way of leading and being in the world that fully values our yin, archetypically feminine qualities in all of us – men and women – equally with our more masculine qualities, our yang. We want to unearth what has been dormant and undervalued, to illuminate how we are innately designed to have more coherence and balance in our lives, more emotional literacy, more empathic thinking, more listening and collaboration, and more acceptance of difference, -both individually and collectively-. None of this is either ‘political’ or divisive but rather, giving equal value to all of our innate positive qualities will show how we can live with greater harmony and humanity.

         It’s a big ask, and we don’t begin to pretend to have all the answers, but we can possibly contribute to the conversation with more practical applications than are currently on offer, and through the lens of emotional management that is far too infrequently addressed, (or even admitted, far less considered!)
         So watch this space as we explore the SHE CODE, and how, if we can employ ALL our inherent capacities, masculine and feminine, with equal value it will be for the benefit of all.
And if you feel aligned with this and have a comment, question, or would like to contribute to the conversation, please get in touch!
                                                      Jennifer Day and Melissa Rivera                                                                                    http://www.appliedemotionalmastery.com/contact