Have you ever noticed that feelings often follow other feelings? Love follows affection, regret follows anger, panic follows fear, and so on through the spectrum of emotions that we experience. Look for that trainload of feelings and you’ll be more likely to identify the roots of human emotions in everyone you meet.
Consider this scenario: Mario is angry with his boss. He feels he deserves less work and more money (wouldn’t that be nice!). So, he storms into the boss’s office, yells about the injustices of his job, slams the door, and returns to his desk. Moments later, an equally angry boss shows up at his desk, hands him the proverbial pink slip, and tells him to get that job and raise he wants somewhere else. Ouch! Mario’s anger is immediately followed by regret. But hidden between the anger and the regret is the action that he took in reaction to that initial emotion.
However, regret doesn’t necessarily need to follow anger. Mario could have dealt with his anger in a more positive way, gaining him the respect of his employer and the raise he wanted, perhaps not necessarily less work, but a raise nonetheless. There are many ways he could have accomplished this, but one way would have been to logically present his side of the story, calmly and with assertiveness. Now Mario’s anger would be followed by a different emotion – satisfaction with the raise.
Why is this discussion being posted on Entelechy Education’s blog? Because in addition to supporting STEM education for children, we also support character education in these children. When parents understand that the emotions they see in their children are a direct response from a previous emotion and a misdirected action, they will be better able to teach their children how to deal with those feelings.
Here’s one more example, this time on the child’s level: Cynthia feels isolated and alone in her new school. She withdraws from everything, refusing to participate in class, choosing to sit by herself at lunch, and actively seeking a single seat on the playground rather than a bench. Her primary feeling of isolation has led to isolationist behavior. Eventually, Cynthia becomes terrified (the secondary emotion) that her life will always be like that – alone and lonely. And since she has refused to talk, she has compounded the problem. What’s a parent to do? The less effective parent would call upon his or her own primary emotion of anger, which would lead to a heated discussion with Cynthia, which leads to the secondary emotion of frustration. OR, the more effective parent would call upon his or her primary emotion of confidence, calmly discussing Cynthia’s feelings (both primary and secondary) and her actions, which will lead to the parent’s secondary emotion of satisfaction with the results of the discussion. Hopefully, Cynthia will now gather the courage to speak to her classmates and teachers as if she has known them for her entire lifetime.
So, when your child misbehaves, look for the primary emotion and ensuing action, rather than approaching the secondary feeling that the child is displaying when acting out. Dig deeply for your own positive feelings that will help your child deal with the negative emotions that have crept to the surface.
How will you use your amygdala today in a positive manner?
Have you found the positive emotions embedded in our books yet?
Author: Renee Heiss