Author Topic: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion  (Read 6963 times)

Illuminatus

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The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« on: May 03, 2011, 11:19:18 AM »
Hi guys,

This is something you've probably all noticed to an extent, and there are plenty of colloquial phrases describing these kinaesthetics, so it's not a new thing, but I wanted to analyse it in greater depth.

Emotions aren't just about "good" and "bad" feelings. There is more to it than this simplified labelling.

I've been using the thought experiment of roller coasters for some time now to think about why it is that essentially the same experience, of riding a roller coaster, appeals to some people to the point of actually wanting to do it, and terrifies others to the point of not even being able to do it. Since the response is adrenocortical in nature either way, I thought it was likely that there is more to it than just neurotransmitters, although I am sure they do play the main role in any evaluation of an experience.

Anyway this led me to think of the way we respond not just to events, but also to our emotions themselves: how we think about our emotions. What determines if it is "good" fear versus "bad" fear? What about wanting something -- is it frustrated longing, or enjoyable desire? Same emotion, but with a different quality determining whether we see it as a "good" experience or a "bad" one.

This made me start thinking of an emotion as not just being a neurochemical mix, but also having a psychological component determining whether we enjoy the experience or not. Of course that psychological component is probably neurotransmitter driven too, but it seems to be part of a separate process of evaluation.

This led to me developing this idea which I'm calling the Passive-Active Axis which controls how we feel about the nature of an experience -- whether it is good or bad.

If you imagine an axis running from the top of your head down to your stomach, then this is the axis down which the signals run telling you whether something is to be engaged or avoided. I believe that whether signals go down to your stomach or up to your head is due to an evaluation you make microseconds earlier as to whether you are capable of taking the challenge or not.

There are many, many colloquialisms and idioms describing the sensations felt in this axis.

Stomach
Feeling down
Depressed (in the emotional sense of being pulled down)
A sinking feeling
A feeling of dread

Head
Elated
Over the moon
High
Standing tall
Walking on air/clouds

There are also terms describing a state whereby you have not yet made an evaluation, or are in a mixed mind, so the sensation has elements of both high and low, or indeed of just feeling stuck in the middle:

Mixed
Butterflies in your stomach (it "flutters" between stomach and head)
Tension (being pulled in both ways)
Feeling stuck
Paralysis by analysis
Confused
Conflict of interest


If the evaluation is made that you CAN handle this challenge, then the feeling is one of elation, drive and focus -- an active use of your emotional state geared towards experiencing the event.
If the evaluation is that you can't handle the challenge, then the feeling is dread, avoidance, fear, anxiety -- a passive use of your emotional state geared towards avoiding the event.

This axis can apply to ANY emotional state, which is important to remind ourselves of. So let's say you feel angry, which is generally thought of as a "bad" emotion. There are two types of anger though. There is passive anger which is more like hate, which gets you down due to feeling unable to actually apply your anger. This is like when you realize why someone's pissed you off well after the moment has passed, and feel unable to do anything about it. Or when someone is far away and out of the effective range for your anger actions. Or that you don't feel that you are capable of beating them, and that they therefore have power over you.
Then there is active anger, where you just "snap" and suddenly feel intensely focused and elated, and this is the moment the evaluation is made that you will be taking on this challenge right now. This is when people snap and cannot control themselves, or don't want to control themselves, and this type of anger is usually fiery, intense, "airy" in that things seem to go through you -- like it is happening beyond your control. It feels very good, and can be highly addictive.

Now I think society really clamps down on this active form of anger, and consequently people end up suppressing their anger a lot, which leads to the passive, or "stomach sinking" evaluation of the emotional experience.

To give a few more examples of the axis at work, think of unrequited love, or when your lover is away and you pine for them. That is lust felt under the evaluation of an insurmountable challenge -- "it's hopeless". Now think about lust when you know you will be with them imminently, or when you are actually with them. This lust would be felt as "good" generally. The challenge is seen as doable and the sensations go into your head, and you become high or elated.


Since I moved city 4 months ago, I have become progressively happier. I was living with my mother before and she is a very negative emotive force in anyone's life -- passing down the imprint from her mother in perfect copy. Anyway. When you are in a state of near-constant fear and depression as I was before when living with her (she spreads this in ways that deserve study on their own), even emotions or events that were supposed to be "good" resulted in this stomach-dropping sensation, of the passive end of the axis. I figured that this is connected to shame. Shame is this initial enjoyment of an experience followed by the immediate sinking sensation that it is NOT ALLOWED. This chronic stomach-dropping sensation in response to most things is a kind of learned helplessness, where you just roll over and submit. I think depressed people are feeling that stomach drop thing in result to pretty much EVERYTHING that goes on in their lives. They are conditioned to be passive toward EVERY challenge/life event/emotive state.

I think this "passive drop" sensation is really tangible to others around you, and spreads quite easily via mirror neurons or whatever. It's like if you go out with a depressed friend, you all have to rally and keep your spirits up (hey, another idiom!) in order to bring the friend up as well, and stop his depression bringing you down. However if your environment is full of people constantly geared towards this passive, "challenge declined", stomach drop kind of atmosphere, it is very easy to become immersed in this and dragged down, and you can even forget what being excited by life is like, until you move away from those people and begin making your own evaluations again.

So I've moved away, and been feeling progressively happier over the months. One thing I have noticed, and which led to this post, is that my reaction to things is becoming more and more the "up", "challenge accepted", "elated" or "head" feeling. Let's say I was 90% stomach before, now I'm more like 50% head, which is really noticeable since it's such a big difference. I predict this will keep going up.

Now part of this is literally choosing to accept more challenges. One area I never really did this in was pickup. I realize now that I spent all those years on the "roll over and submit" or "challenge declined" end of the axis in terms of my immediate evaluation and consequent emotional response. It was like "Oh no, I have to face this fucking thing again..." and using drugs and things to avoid THAT feeling. I had that attitude towards meeting new people generally, but pickup really amplified that "stomach drop" sensation. I think the guys who progress rapidly and enjoy pickup are the ones who have a CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! mentality. The sensations rise into their head. They get focused and excited. Perhaps other guys, when they first start out, have a mixed state (butterflies in the stomach), but a few successes, or simply finding they enjoy it, eventually polarizes that sensation towards the "high" state.


So part of the puzzle, of enjoying life, is to actually accept challenges more. If you live with other passives however, complainers and retreaters, this can severely hinder your worldview, as you will tend to start copying their worldview which is to decline every challenge as hopeless.

Another part of the puzzle however is that we can consciously manipulate our responses once we become clearly aware of them. For example, since getting these reference points that I CAN and WILL have the "move upwards into the head" sensation off things in life that caused the opposite before, my mind is now saying to me "Well here's the answer, so apply the 'up' kinaesthetic while thinking about things that ordinarily create the 'down' kinaesthetic!"

Now this idea of manipulating kinaesthetics isn't new, and I have a video of Richard Bandler instructing an audience member who feared public speaking to "reverse the signal -- play it the opposite way" and had her instead play the sensation in reverse, up into her head, and hey presto she got up on the stage and didn't fear public speaking any more.

I used this manipulation for quite a while actually, for little things that bugged me. What I found is that often I'd end up in this mixed state of feeling stuck, or numb, about an issue after I had manipulated it. For the really big things causing stomach drops, I didn't really use the manipulation, because I thought the stomach drops must "mean" something. Both of these issues came up because I didn't really understand the evaluations that were taking place about each event which caused a polarization towards passivity or action. So I would make the "passive" evaluation on autopilot, then apply this manipulation once the reaction had already started -- hence feeling "stuck".

This is not the way to do this. The evaluation must come first. So you decide to rise to a challenge -- and how you motivate yourself is entirely up to you. Get some fieriness streaming upward into your head. That is what motivation is after all. Then think of the event whilst continuing to play this signal of energy rising into your head.

Sometimes you will maintain this "good" or "active" sensation on a matter and your thinking will change in line with it, and you will decide that things will change in future. This is when you feel like "I've had enough!" of someone or something. And your thinking changes to rise to the challenge, of putting a stop to it whichever way it takes. This can keep you motivated towards doing something different right up until the time when you actually meet that challenge in real life, and succeed in your own way at it. It usually does take some real-life experience of the event to really solidify the new way of thinking as the "right" way. The brain does like to see real-world evidence of things, and values this evidence far higher than its own ponderings and projections on the matter.

However, sometimes some time passes without you being able to do the action which solidifies the new way of thinking. The evaluation can go back to "hopeless" again, and the old ways of thinking can return. In this instance, my only advice is to only fire yourself up to something when the situation allows you to immediately put into practice your rising to the challenge. Strike while the iron is hot.

I think the main idea behind this post is that of the evaluations. You only get that sinking feeling if you have already made the evaluation that a challenge is insurmountable. I think figuring out WHAT you believe the challenge to be is also important in working out the ways you think about things. For example you may get that sinking feeling around somebody because they challenge you in some specific way you aren't used to being challenged on, e.g. they test your boundary and challenge you to assert yourself to stop their intrusion on your head space. But if you aren't aware of what the challenge is specifically, you might just think general things about that person, such as "Oh, I hate him" or "I'm scared of him." The point is that often you must DRILL DOWN to find out what the challenge is -- and only then can you make the decision to accept the challenge. I think once you know what the nature of the challenge is, that opens the gateway by which you can manipulate the sensations on the Passive-Active Axis effectively in line with your new goals.

I think any sinking feeling is to be looked at and the question asked: "Which challenge am I evaluating as insurmountable right now? Why am I rolling over?" And then study your thinking about that challenge, and think about new ways in which you could accept that challenge. This new way of thinking can sometimes be unpredictable. For example, at times I have drawn the conclusion: "If worse comes to worse, I'll just beat this person up if I can't make them respect my boundary." Now that might seem base and undesirable, but I tell you, your brain "counts" it as a valid path, and keeps you in the "challenge accepted" mentality all the way up till the actual confrontation. Stomach drops cease when you have focused, "active" anger, the same way they stop when you have any emotive state polarized to this "active" state. This post isn't just about anger, it's about any emotion and how it can be polarized in this way.

I suppose your motivations could also be analysed in the same way by finding out WHY you feel a head rush. WHAT you are responding to. This can help analyse your intentions. For example you could feel a head rush when the opportunity arises to impress people, but if you're unaware that that is your real motivation, you might spend life as a show-off doing things to make other people think highly of you, instead of changing your thinking to give better motivations. Finding new motivations for your actions can change which challenges you decide to respond to, and consequently which actions you pursue. E.g. if you decide you want to make more money just for you to enjoy your life more, your actions will probably be a lot more focused on actually making money with proper planning and focus, and probably by doing things you yourself actually enjoy, since this is in line with the overall goal of "enjoy life". But if your motivation is actually to impress other people with your money, you'll probably do things more focused on creating the illusion of wealth, or actually getting wealth by doing jobs you hate or which aren't right for you. An example is that I started a porn site once and my motivation was slightly on making money, but mostly on being able to show off about having a porn site and pretending I was doing something really naughty and clever (impressing others in other words). My "head rush" would occur on the thought of impressing others. Nowadays I have rethought about my motivations and decided I just want to enjoy my time here in life, and consequently I'm doing things I enjoy a lot more such as writing (I never really enjoyed maintaining the porn site). I am getting the "head rush" in response to thoughts such as living in the tropics in future, being able to travel, and of putting out high-quality work which I enjoy doing. As long as I think of any work I do as contributing towards this goal, I don't get the "stomach sinking" feeling in response to it any more. Even difficult jobs I would dread before. It has been converted to a "head rush" sensation because of the way I have chosen to think about the work, and the overall motivation behind it.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 11:47:57 AM by Illuminatus »

Bliss

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2011, 03:17:17 PM »
This is a great post.  The "challenge accepted" mentality is the real key and something that i've always had and taken for granted.  Only through experience myself have I realized that not everyone has that.

moviestar

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2011, 08:59:26 PM »
Great post. This is however half-way though the path. Wait and see what happens once that "rush" hits your heart.
I've been through the same process years ago, starting with the head, and then the heart started activating. It seems counter-intuitive that it by-passes the heart from the stomach, directly to the head. But it makes sense if you consider the heart, the center of your being. That is where things actually happen.

Illuminatus

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2011, 09:36:58 PM »
Great post. This is however half-way though the path. Wait and see what happens once that "rush" hits your heart.
I've been through the same process years ago, starting with the head, and then the heart started activating. It seems counter-intuitive that it by-passes the heart from the stomach, directly to the head. But it makes sense if you consider the heart, the center of your being. That is where things actually happen.

What about when everything feels "lit up" in balance, and your environment feels like it's an extension of your consciousness? Which chakra is that, or is it all of them?

dwayne08

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2011, 03:25:23 AM »
Can you explain how to set the "boundary" when it comes to pick up? Specifically, if you are afraid of getting rejected. Thanks!

Illuminatus

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2011, 09:45:38 AM »
Can you explain how to set the "boundary" when it comes to pick up? Specifically, if you are afraid of getting rejected. Thanks!

Sure. I think there's a logical component to begin with. The anxiety isn't seen as irrational at the start. You might get beaten up by an angry boyfriend, or she may scream "FREAAAAAAAK!" at you and then everyone will think you're a loser.

The are two stages to overcoming this, and establishing a better logical model:

1) Do some approaches. Even if they suck, these extreme outcomes aren't likely to happen.
2) Investigate mentally the consequences of if they were to happen, staying as honest to reality as possible. So some boyfriend might threaten you, you might even get into a fight. So what? A fight isn't the worst thing that can happen, and you can learn a lot about yourself from it. If the girl says you're a loser, so what? Most girls are complete fucking losers in their heads anyway, so what is her opinion worth? And plus you live another day, so the consequences aren't that bad.

Anyway this concerns setting the logical component straight. This, for many guys, is enough to sort it out: their motivation handles the rest.

If you are still feeling an emotional block to approaching, I recommend making yourself feel HAPPY first. This could be just from doing something you enjoy, and many guys do this, but I actually recommend learning how to trigger unconditional happiness, via a happiness meditation.

Try this one:

-Sit comfortably, eyes closed, back straight but relaxed
-Look towards a spot just above the bridge of your nose. Keep your eyes here the whole time
-Begin linked breathing (no gap between the end of exhale and start of inhale, and no gap between end of inhale and start of inhale) -- breathe regularly and however feels comfortable
-Smile gently and naturally
-Let any forces, thoughts or images which try and prevent you from smiling just fade and dissipate, and continue smiling
-Hold this for 10 minutes, just focusing on your breathing while continuing to smile and look at the spot above your nose.

You will feel lots of "good" energy, lots of happiness going into your head, and breathing will start feeling really good. This is happiness "for no reason". You maintain this state just by focusing on the present moment (the environment) and by not allowing self-talk or mental projection. Yes that may take some practice. Oh well.

Anyway if you can be happy in-field then your problems will be solved because:

a) Fear cannot exist when you're happy (it's one or the other, never both)
b) You will actually enjoy what you're doing.

Let us know how it goes.

moviestar

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2011, 11:15:00 AM »
What about when everything feels "lit up" in balance, and your environment feels like it's an extension of your consciousness? Which chakra is that, or is it all of them?

Right, that's the crown chakra, your head.
I've done things like walking around all day just feeling the top of my head. Sort of inducing this state. It works amazingly well in taking challenges.
The heart is a bit different. It's like a tremendous force. You will start creating the challenges for yourself and setting new limits, at the same time giving you courage to accomplish them.

Illuminatus

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2011, 11:28:24 AM »
What about when everything feels "lit up" in balance, and your environment feels like it's an extension of your consciousness? Which chakra is that, or is it all of them?

Right, that's the crown chakra, your head.
I've done things like walking around all day just feeling the top of my head. Sort of inducing this state. It works amazingly well in taking challenges.
The heart is a bit different. It's like a tremendous force. You will start creating the challenges for yourself and setting new limits, at the same time giving you courage to accomplish them.

I fucking love the crown chakra in that case. That is what they are talking about when they paint saints with halos around their heads etc. Also I have no doubt the term "enlightened" refers to this state, because everything is actually visually brighter (probably neurotransmitter saturation plus pupil dilation).

neva2244

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2011, 01:34:49 PM »
Hi Illuminatus
You are my only save right now. I won't go into my situation as it is pretty much like everyone elses. I know I am going in the right direction. I have only myself to pick myself up when I falter. So I go in to your site and I so strongly identify with everything you say, it heals me as to not feeling so alone. I know we all are on this journey, we must stay strong and never give up, we are the pioneers of the future. I love you all. :-*

Illuminatus

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Re: The Passive-Active Axis of Emotion
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2011, 02:22:06 PM »
Hi Illuminatus
You are my only save right now. I won't go into my situation as it is pretty much like everyone elses. I know I am going in the right direction. I have only myself to pick myself up when I falter. So I go in to your site and I so strongly identify with everything you say, it heals me as to not feeling so alone. I know we all are on this journey, we must stay strong and never give up, we are the pioneers of the future. I love you all. :-*

I'm really glad you're finding it useful. :)

*Loves!*