Emotional Style?

Emotional Style?

Recently I read an overview of Emotional Alchemy, a book by Tara Bennett-Goleman. The review was rather poor, simply listing the “emotional styles” without any further background or links. “Emotional styles” are essentially styles of background conditioning. The book is subtitled “How the Mind can Heal the Heart” which turns out to be a reference to mindfulness.

Mindfulness means seeing things as they are without trying to change them,” Tara writes. “The point is to dissolve our reactions to disturbing emotions, being careful not to reject the emotion itself.” Her web site indicates the ideas arise out of Cognitive Therapy and her practice of Buddhist non-judgmental awareness and the cultivation of compassion. She refers to deep-seated emotional habits that are formed in childhood.

The overview identified Tara’s 10 emotional styles:

The basic idea being that the emotional style will determine how you tend to respond to events. Mistrust? An expectation of failure?

Her husband wrote the book Emotional Intelligence and developed a model of “emotional competencies” in leadership. There is considerable debate around the idea of emotion being a form of intelligence. (EQ or EIQ) Personally, I think there can be intelligence within emotional states but they can also be self-driven – i.e.: emotions driving other emotions, creating loops. Without intelligent substructure, they tend to chaos rather than order and resolution. Intelligence, in this context, is not contained in basic emotions themselves.

I’ve not read either book, but can make a few observations on the idea of Emotional Styles generally. The book may or may not cover some of this. For one, if you take this at purely face value, what you’re doing is giving a name to a shadow. This may make it more conscious but also makes it more real. Unless you use a clearing technique with it, It just adds to the story. It may make the feelings OK calling it a style, but may also make it a “lifestyle”, like celebrating your neurosis.

An example of this was on Oprah’s series with Eckhart Tolle. In it, Oprah observed that if she went into nature and named things, she stayed in the mind. If she was simply there, not naming things, the beauty and wholeness of nature was obvious and it was much easier to be present. The mind wants to name and categorize our experiences, but this very act can take us away from them.

Note that some Styles are quite similar, like Subjugation & Deprivation. The emotional motivation may vary slightly but the consequence is much the same.

I’ll also note that these “styles” will be closely associated with roles. For example, we may be quite smooth in a family scenario but prone to expect failure in work roles.

And finally, there are affiliations in the group that may be sequential or interrelated. The reason I suggest this is that the emotional responsiveness or style is an effect of a more subconscious dynamic. Emotions are good clues to lead us into it and make in conscious. Not by labeling but by experiencing and allowing the experience. But styles are not causal. Thus, resolving them will not clear the essential backstory, what I call the shadow story.

I’ve spoken of this a number of times. The basic idea is that we carry a shadow story that’s driven by the sub-conscious fear driven identity. The story’s expression varies but one of the consequences is this “style” in our roles.

For example, we may have a story of blame. We screwed up in our deep past and that story has carried forward into this life. That may manifest itself in only some or all roles and may manifest different styles or blended styles. Blame, for example, may show up as Perfectionism, Failure, and Unloveability. Perhaps even Exclusion.

We can resolve each of these ‘layers of the onion’ one by one, or we can follow the trail down and make the identity conscious. Then the whole construct will dissolve from the bottom up. Much easier to go for the root.

PS – In researching the article, I ran into a shorter work by the author. It explains her thinking further. I can see value here but understanding the deeper drivers will help bring long term peace.


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