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Previous: Growing Up

Mud Map

 So far we have discussed Four Basic Emotions, Five Levels for Emotional Growth, and now onto discuss putting it together in a basic mud map of how the brain may work using three levels of brain function. However, there are many ways to put to put the mud map together, and this map is only to help our discussion. Although I believe the four basic emotions seem to be fixed biologically, and that these three layers are in many ways quite unique, there are many ways to put all this together, and I give you my thoughts to help you build your own - hence it is only a "Mud" map. 

NB: This map is only two dimensional, but it may be better to think of it in three dimensions as a pyramid, and it would be easy to add more layers - but that would start to become way too complicated! My suggestion is to start to start with a simple mud map of our own and add to it, but ultimately "the map is not the territory" and we need to forget the map and learn to live our lives to try to put it all together.

OK then - in simple terms we seem to examine the world in three ways - Physically, Thinking and Emotionally - a triple decker universe! Some theories would link these to our senses - perhaps Vision relates to how we see the world physically, our Hearing is connected to our language, thinking and the rules we sae, and our emotions are connected to how we "feel". Taste and Smell don't enter our lives very prominently, but can lead to a few strange side tracks in our lives - although I wonder how a puppy dog puts our world together in a complex array of smells! 

The problem is that it seems that we can really only ever focus consciously on one level at a time - and we tend to prefer to stay in whatever realm we are most experienced. We see this with some people who are very visual and structured in their lives, others who may be "touchy-feely", and yet others who are forever overthinking everything.

Physical World

Our Physical world is the one about which we are most aware. The rules in this world are quite simple - "What you see is what you get" - and no doubt where we start as children. In this world, our actions and consequences all seem very direct and real - if you fall over, you can break a leg; if you open a door, you will go into another room. As children we learn to accept these reals, finally abandoning (most) thoughts of magic - even learning Santa is not real - around the time we enter secondary school. When creating cartoons, the writers love to break these rules to give us a laugh - as it all seems unreal. Many people function solely in this world, and often working well doing "hands-on" tasks and building things, but become confused when things do not go according to plan in a different world - how can we understand something like depression physically, or try to work out the meaning of life.

Thinking World

In our Thinking world, we examine the world according to language and rules - reading books and studying at school. We learn to develop these skills in secondary school and university - and many remain as book worms, or the even the absent minded professors, who are highly logical but often lacking practical skills. Thinking is highly important to our education and a necessary part of a development as humans. We need to learn logic and develop rules as to how the world works so we can make better sense of what is happening to us. These rules are much more complex than those from the Physical world, but they are still only rules, mere programming and flawed by the necessity to follow logic, lacking flexibility and "Heart". 

Feeling World

We have already talked much about our emotions and the emotional world, but these worlds also combine as we discussed when playing the piano or tennis. Combining thinking with feeling gives us not only beliefs, but also intuitive thoughts. If the connection is too strong, our beliefs become too fixed and unable to be properly tested. Learning to combine our thinking with our feelings takes much learning, but the path to do this is most probably different for each and every person, and the common advice doesn't help. In fact, the common advice is DON'T as it is dangerous. It is dangerous - we need to be careful, but as we are not perfect, we will make mistakes - so need to learn quickly.

Putting this together:

 Emotion Mud MapEmotion Mud Map


So - information and input comes in to us from the external world through the senses in our bodies, and for many if not most of our body functions, there is a direct behavioural response which is largely hard wired through muscle memory and nerve connections. In this way we can learn to walk, run, jump and perform quite extraordinary actions if we take the time and patience to learn how to do them. But we don't have to actually think about each movement - thinking actually usually gets in the way, and most of the time what we re doing is under reflex control without much conscious control.

But if we allow ourselves to be conscious of our inputs and actions, we can observe patterns in our world and make up rules for how the world acts upon us. We can also learn these rules and responses from other people and discover how they work for ourselves. Its funny how we so often try to make rules and patterns in the world - even when there is none and the pattern is random! But we build up for ourselves a map of the world which is so vast and extensive. Some try to write it down in encyclopaedias or dictionaries (or even web sites) but the knowledge we have is vast and constantly varying, and what seems to work for us rarely translates well to other people, and less well to other generations. So we need instead to learn how to learn, and teach others how to learn. That is why so many of the most useful writings seem to be written in riddles and are not meant to be read literally.

We also have a similar set of rules based on our actions - our output rules - which we usually think of as being our Moral Rules. We are taught how to behave since early childhood and have this set of rules inside that determine not only the basic rules and strategies of a game or skill, but also our sense of what is Right or Wrong - probably better thought of as what is helpful or not. These two sets of rules are connected either by our thinking that we have set in place from the past (where we could quite easily try to explain our thinking if we had to), or by direct conscious control when we actually think about what we are doing. These rules are not set in stone, and we can and sometimes actually have a choice in our lives if we allow ourselves to examine what we are thinking.

If all goes according to plan, all goes smoothly and we have no problem and fits into what we expect. However, if information comes in without an adequate explanation or possible responsible response, things are not so smooth. We become puzzled, and have an emotional reaction which may be be either pleasant (in that things went better than that expected) or unpleasant, although we seem to be more aware of the latter.

We may be aware of this reaction and allow ourselves to interpret what is going on, but more often than not we have another set of thinking rules that govern how we should or shouldn't feel. It is in this area that many Psychologists challenge us to reform these rules or beliefs as many keep us stuck in an unpleasant emotional state - I will discuss later.

However our thinking may not necessarily be involved, and more often, there is a direct emotion to emotion response. When our emotions are operating in instinct mode, the responses are quite automatic and unconscious, and trying to understand them can be difficult. The most obvious response like this is our survival instinct that if we are hurt we want to fight back - to the point where we are rarely even aware of the original hurt - we only recognise the anger. Also our memory of getting hurt may bring about a fear response, or we may become scared by our anger - so we may suddenly become anxious for no obvious reason (or make up some alternative explanation). So our emotions all just rumble away in our unconscious.

If the emotions build up enough, they drive us forward. So after we have emotional reactions to events in our outside world, they begin to accumulate until we do something about it. We watch an advertisement on TV and see some food, maybe more than once, and then we get up, open the refrigerator door, see some left overs, and before we know it, we put it in our mouth. This pattern repeats over and over in our lives - our emotional responses accumulate until we have an emotional reactions, which push through the filter of our moral rules leading to a behaviour that usually follows the path set by our personality. But if the emotion is strong enough, and if we do not have the a strong enough defence mapped out in our moral rules, then we may bypass these rules entirely, doing something which is totally out of character, and a total surprise to ourselves. Fortunately if our parents did a good enough job, this breakthrough is rare.

In summary:

Physical World 

The focus is on:
• Doing; Action; Behaviour
• Bricks and mortar
• Anatomy
• Hardware
• Direct cause and effect
Mental World
The focus is on:
• Thinking, Planning, Organisation
• Design, Architecture
• Programming and Software
• Rules and regulations; Law
• Indirect cause and effect, but result is predictable, programmed, robotic.
Emotional World
• “Home is where the Heart is”
• Human cf robotic
• Love and relationships
• Centre of our True self? Perhaps it should be "I feel therefore I am" not "I think therefore I am"
• Ideas, inspiration, motivation
• Fuzzy Logic - unpredictable



Next: Control Knobs

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