You may have noticed that the world is more than a little insane. The inauthenticity of people and the substitution of one emotion for another (such as the anger of aggression substituting for the sorrow of low self-esteem) make for most of fiction, drama, and The News. Emotional distortion makes people seem irrational and unreasonable, and interpersonal relationships, unworkable -- or at least, difficult.
Emotional distortion is extremely common and more difficult behavior to correct than the other two forms of emotional inauthenticity, suppression and repression. Suppression and repression get handled when emotional distortion gets handled.
Emotions have their function, including negative emotions. The problem isn't their occurring, but their persistence after the occasion that provoked them is over, so that they flavor life on a continual basis. The common word for that is, "unhappiness."
Human Negative EmotionsHuman negative emotions (emotions of wanting to negate, avoid, or change an experience) fall into three categories:
FORMS OF EMOTIONAL DISTORTION
Distorting Anger into Sorrow
I don't mean to suggest that someone makes a conscious choice, "I feel angry, so I'll express sorrow; it's safer." No, the distortion is automatic, shaped by conditioning into the safest-feeling expression, in the moment. Once a habit of distorting an emotion has formed, it tends to persist throughout life as a learned "strategy" and that strategy operates on automatic as part of ones character. But it's not natural; it's learned.
The common name for distorting anger into sorrow is, "depression".
Self-pity is another variation of "anger into sorrow": anger at another converted to feeling sorry for oneself.
The world is full of medication- and substance-taking depressives. There's rightfully a lot to be angry about. Just listen to the news. Crime and domestic violence are expressions of emotional distortion. The "drug problem" is a sign of emotional distortion of anger resulting from bad social and economic conditions; drug use is commonly a form of self-anaesthesia. Drug laws just miss and suppress the real problem in service to social forces that refuse to correct social problems.
The anger isn't the emotional dysfunction; it's the suppression, repression, and distortion of anger that is the emotional dysfunction.
Distorting Anger into Fear
Anger then becomes fear.
A rebound-effect commonly comes from "anger into fear": "fear into anger" -- when one feels that one has the upper hand, as after one has grown from childhood into adulthood -- in certain circumstances, as in crime, domestic violence, and business.
The enacting of more and more laws (a sign of more and more crime), more and more litigation, attest to the "anger into fear" rebound effect. Thus, "the sins of the fathers are passed down to the third and fourth generation."
Fear of SorrowThere are possible consequences of provoking sorrow in another from that person or from someone else who finds out. Those possible consequences may provoke fear in oneself. "Wait until your father comes home."
Similarly, one may use ones own sorrow to "guilt trip" someone else into fear. Such sorrow may be tinged with anger.
"Safe" Expression of Anger
One of the more "sophisticated" forms of emotional distortion is to convert an emotion into words, as in, "I am feeling very angry, right now".
While the strategy may open a channel of communication with the other involved party and bring the cognitive mind into play, thus diminishing the intensity of anger -- and there may be some benefit to that -- the strategy runs the risk of emotional distortion; in imposing the thinking mind upon the emotional nature, it may substitute the thinking mind altogether for the emotional nature. It doesn't get at the conditioning underlying emotional distortion and emotional plight, or correct them. The term, "being in your head", applies.
You get the idea, now, about emotional distortion.
Correcting Emotional Distortion
- Awaken and balance all of the emotions.
- Reverse the emotional distortion to an authentic emotional experience.
Awaken to and Balance the Emotions
With habits of suppression, repression, and distortion, we are awake to, and permit, some emotions and keep others buried. We are dim-witted about some emotions and lack a healthy range of intensity and variety of emotional responsiveness; we may have a bad temper (bad temperament). We sometimes can't tell what our authentic emotional state is, at any moment -- not necessarily because we don't feel emotion, but because we feel the substituted one. Actions based on substituted-emotion miss the mark of both honesty and relevance, and the results are unsatisfactory.
Reversing Emotional Distortion | Getting Your Emotions Straight
- public fear, private anger (pipsqueak, doormat)
- public sorrow, private anger (social victim, wronged intimate partner)
- public anger, private fear (self-righteously defensive perpetrator, also concerned parent)
These procedures work at the underpinnings of emotional distortion independently of the particulars of situations.
Every experience has four facets :
The Middle-Way Memory-Matrix Ritual
- two selected items
- intention and refusal
- anger and sorrow
- sorrow and fear
- anger and fear