The Emotional Hostage: Rescuing Your Emotional Life

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9780932573032: The Emotional Hostage: Rescuing Your Emotional Life
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Often we feel trapped and at the mercy of emotions that we don't want. This book teaches how to gain control over our emotional lives by discovering the many factors that together arouse our feelings. For instance, realizing that our emotions are the results of our memories of the past and our anticipation of the future as well as our perceptions in the moment, allows us to shift time frames in order to feel differently. Slowing the intensity and tempo of an unpleasant experience can change rage to dissatisfaction, and increasing the intensity and tempo of a pleasant one can change satisfaction into excitement. These are just a few of the elements of our experiencing that we can learn to modify to solve the problems caused by emotions and have a more satisfying life.

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From the Back Cover:

We lived storybook lives. At least it seemed that way to our families, friends, colleagues, and students. As evidence they pointed to our professional success, our lovely home and happy child, and our romantic and passionate love for each other. But behind the trappings of professional success, hidden from those around us, was a life of recurring torment. We were hostage to a powerful but little-understood force: our own emotions. In our first attempts to struggle free of the grip of our emotions, we learned to appreciate the seriousness of our plight. We also discovered the we were not alone.

All of us are hostage to our emotions in one way or another. Some people are confined and constrained by their fear of the intensity of such emotions as inadequacy, sadness, hurt, and rejection. For these people, emotions are like land mines; they tiptoe through life trying to avoid dangerous feelings. At the first hint that a strong emotional response is underfoot, they withdraw. They avoid situations that appear to be emotionally highly-charged, such as a heated argument with a loved one, visiting an acquaintance who is suffering from cancer, or spending time with a friend who is depressed. In order to spare themselves the sting of hurt and rejection, they refrain from reaching out to others. They also steer clear of professional challenges. This way they can avoid tripping over unpleasant surprises, such as feelings of inadequacy. As a ransom, these people avoid huge areas of life in the way that some people avoid seeing scary movies. In the process, they are usually successful at keeping themselves from experiencing much of what is worthwhile in life.

A World of Emotional Choice

Imagine for a moment that you live in a world in which you have available to you the full range of human emotions, as well as choices about which of those emotions to experience and how to express them at any given moment. In this world you have access to the sobering unpleasantness of disappointment, anger, and frustration, as well as the exaltation of pride, confidence, and joy. You might wince under the pangs of jealousy, regret, fear, grief, and hopelessness, but only for as long as it takes to extract whatever information these wounds might hold for you. Then you quickly heal and move on. In this world you do not need to mask the feelings that are the expressions of yourself just because you do not know how to satisfyingly express them. Instead, you have access to all of the emotions and behaviors that are the authentic manifestation of who you are and who you want to be. The standard for interactions In this world is a mutually-fulfilling dance of emotions and behavior, while stepping on the emotional toes of those around you is a rare mistake.

How close are most of us to living in such a world? What would such a world really be like? As it is now, it's not uncommon for a person who is facing a job interview or sales presentation to feel anxious, his palms breaking out in sweat. He may squirm around, his voice cracking and his attention and concentration ricocheting from one worry to another. No matter how worthy a potential employee he is or how substantive his sales pitch, his presentation will be sabotaged by his anxious feelings, behavior, and appearance. In a world in which emotional choice is a skill that all enjoy, however, this person could choose to present himself with a deep feeling of personal confidence and competence, manifested in his calm demeanor and alert and attentive responses.

Personal lives would be significantly different as well. We all know couples who, as a result of the years of emotional deprivation they have experienced together, seize the opportunity of social situations to sling snide put-downs at one another. Even cloaked as humor, as they often are, such barbs bite deeply, continually adding to the resentment that already scars their relationship. But in a world of emotional choice, it would be difficult to build resentment. Instead, these two people would recognize and respond to their own emotional needs and wants, as well as those of their mate. Over the years, they would experience an increasing sense of trust and security because each day they would have fresh examples of their ability to notice and respond well to the fluctuations of emotional atmosphere that naturally accompany the weather of relationships.

About the Author:

The authors are co-developers of NLP and creators of Mental Aptitude Patterning. They have written several highly-acclaimed books on personal development, including Solutions, Know How, and The EMPRINT Method. The authors continue to bring the benefits of emotional choice to their work and to their marriage.

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