New Model of Thinking and Emotion

At the recent Neuroleadership summit in Boston, Lisa Feldman Barrett articulated a whole new view on the appropriate model for understanding our thinking and our feelings.

Lisa challenged some of the most deeply held ideas about how the mind works in her session. She stated that Daniel Goldman’s theory on emotional intelligence is largely incorrect. Studies show there are no specific anatomical brain regions pinpointed for any of the emotions. The brain is a more integrated system than previously imagined, with thinking, emotions, mind and body all contributing to our experience in a holistic way.

We here at ReThink couldn’t be more pleased! This holistic view of “thinking” is what we are talking about with our tag-line of ReThink Thinking. We are glad to not be the only ones out there advocating for a total change in viewpoint!

The idea that emotions are old and separate and to be overcome just doesn’t cut it anymore. Logically it doesn’t make any sense anyway as to make any sort of decision, provide any sort of leadership or set out on any sort of adventure towards a goal you need some motivation and some confidence. Both are feelings! Motivation is wanting something and confidence is a feeling that you can get it or the decision will be right if you take it.

The new challenge then becomes how do you learn to work with the ephemeral and illusive qualities of feelings and emotions? How do you treat the physical, visceral experiences of feelings and emotions as data?

1. Truly change your mind about the conventional wisdom and decide that you will begin working with your brain/mind/psyche in this body/brain/mind way – no more dualism and no more tri-une model of the brain!

2. Begin tracking your feelings – feelings of all types: physical, emotional, intuitive.

3. Put yourself in situations where you can “hear” what you feel and continue the tracking (noting your observations).

4. Categorize these experiences. Name them (for yourself).

5. Resolve to always know the “fC” or context of feelings you bring to a perception, an analysis or a decision.

6. Use the knowledge of your “fC” to further inform yourself about your biases, expectations, nuances of knowledge and true reasons for believing in one option versus another.

This is a whole new strategy for many people. It is a systematic way to work with what seems VERY un-systematic. The irony is once you get solidly on the path you find that there are actually a relatively small number of feelings you experience and you can begin to use their categories to help you make better decisions and seize better opportunities. Most people also find that their personal relationships improve. (Honestly if I have gotten one comment to the effect of “My wife and family say I am so much easier to get along with… I have gotten a few dozen!)

This isn’t emotional intelligence, it is actually self and social-intelligence… kinds of knowledge that can be leveraged in essentially an infinite number of ways!

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