EI Theory Part Three – Emotion and Psychology

We learned in Parts I & II that each of us is a delicate grouping of biological, psychological and environmental (social) elements, each contributing to our individual the expression of personality.  In fact, bio-psycho-social theory is an holistic philosophy of health care that does not endorse the belief that these features can ever be viewed separately. Instead, they work in conjunction with one another. The more closely these components are harmonized, the more physically and emotionally balanced one can expect to be.  EI theory appreciates this position, particularly when reflecting on the functional use of personality and its impact on our overall health status.

The psychological constituent of the bio-psycho-social model is believed, generally, to be a product of thinking, evaluation and emotional expression (feelings).

Individual psychology might be defined as a system of turn-taking, a product of our unique experiences with others within our own inimitable cultures. Although the term turn-taking is most often used to describe the rules in game-playing, it is also the model we might rely upon to cooperate with one another in our daily, social lives. Turn-taking, in a social context, consists of scripts, subtle signals, facial expressions, voice intonations and pragmatic rules learned over time, shaping our complex social rules and customs. We take turns expressing our thoughts and clarifying our meaning. We impose a level of cooperation and an expectation of collaboration between speakers and listeners. Just as in game-playing, when a player breaks the rules or goes out of turn, the game is disrupted and the other players rebel, calling for a review of the rules in order to regain balance in the game:

“You aren’t supposed to do that!”

“Yes, but I want to.”

“That is totally against the rules. Stop it!”

“I do it all the time.”

“Where did you learn that?  Where were you raised?”

Throughout life we establish, through experience, the general principles of cooperation, congregation and copulation – resulting in a set of social constructs (rules) that start their development at birth and become the frame of reference we use to address most social situations.  Social constructs represent meaning – a process of perception and cognitive/social verification. We internalize these rules of engagement, practice them and produce a system of social navigation:

“When I do this, you say ‘Thank you,’”

 “When I do this, you express anger,”

“When this happens, you say, ‘Excuse me,’”

“This is what boys do,”

“This is what girls do,”

“You are a bad boy!  I will let you know when you’re a good boy.”

“You are a good girl, but don’t make a mistake because then you will be a bad girl.”

– Voila! the creation of our personal rule book.

“She did that.”

“What did you do?”

“I did this.”

“I would have done this and that.”

“So I was wrong to do this?”

“Yeah, she got over on you.  Now you look like an idiot.”

“Oh shit!”


Our rule book is an internal structure, the dialogue we have with ourselves that consists of a complex inner wisdom made up of words, phrases, body language and perspective-taking.  If you want to identify the components of your complex inner wisdom, you might begin by identifying the absolute terms you use in your self-talk. Words like should, ought, must, have to and need represent your standard of normal, your perfect right and your perfect wrong. These are the standards you have learned to expect from others, the standards that, when applied to others, result in countless, repeated experiences with emotional discomfort.

Most of us were trained in an environment of right and wrong, where few alterations were allowed from what should and shouldn’t be. It would have been a rare occasion for our social educators (parent, neighbors, relatives, teachers) to say, “Let’s talk about the parts of your behavior that were right and the parts that were not right. Then we will compromise based on how they behave in France.”  Our social educators trained us to behave properly in our own social environment.

Our emotional educators were the sole determiners of the appropriateness of our behavior. Your early behavioral training was always a push toward getting it perfect. And you maintained that perspective throughout your life (whether you’re ready to believe that or not). When things are the way they should be, there is balance, a perfect, serene world where everything within your perception happens as it ought to. If your expectations are frustrated, when things are the way we believe they shouldn’t be, you will feel some level of upsettedness.

You will begin our emotional downfall by rating yourself and others as perfectly bad or perfectly unfair, and things as magnificently awful for not meeting the ideal standard you set for what should, ought, must, have to and need be. Your search for perfection and the ideal standard represent the emotional struggle within each of us, our neurotic attempt to hold ourselves and others to a benchmark of perfect rightness – excellence. When we apply the word should to anyone or anything, we are demanding nothing short of complete perfection from them.  That expectation, however honorable, is often undermined by those who do not behave perfectly or ideally and those who are not willing to participate with your expectation of their behavior.

Conflicts in your thinking represent a threat to your mind and produce a fight or flight response that impacts your ability to function healthily (see Part II).

It will take the force of will to overcome this nut-headed-ness.


One response

  1. Pingback: EI Theory Part Four – Beliefs and Emotions | eitheory.com

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