The Model: examples of emotional cycles

September 3, 2011 by Joshua
in Blog, Evolutionary Psychology, Leadership, Nature

[This post is part of a series on The Model — my model for the human emotional system designed for use in leadership, self-awareness, and general purpose professional and personal development — which I find the most effective and valuable foundation for understanding yourself and others and improving your life. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

In our Model, each emotion you experience manifests itself in the emotional cycle of the model.

reward environment beliefs emotions behavior

Example 1: let’s consider an example of hunger in the Model.

Say someone puts a mango in front of you (environment). You see it and expect it to taste good (perception/belief). Since you evolved to eat healthy foods and mangoes provide nutrition (and mangoes evolved to motivate you to eat them), you feel motivated to eat them (emotions/motivations). If you then eat it (behavior), you’ll feel reward for completing the cycle, motivating you to complete similar cycles in the future.

This example illustrates one of many ways you can feel hunger. You can feel hunger from other perceptions and beliefs of your environment.

Example 2: friendliness

Say you are with your friends (environment). If you see them and believe they are your friends (perception/belief), you’ll feel friendly emotions. If you act on the emotions, say to joke around with them (behavior), all the cycles will be in sync and you’ll feel reward.

If for some reason you felt one of them was angry with you (belief), you might be motivated to have fun with some but motivated to resolve your dispute with the angry one. If you can’t figure out how to have fun with all and resolve the issue with that one (behavior), all the elements in the cycle won’t resonate and you won’t feel reward. You’ll feel instead emotions of conflict like suspicion or frustration.

Example 3: loneliness

Say you are alone (environment). You may perceive no one being around (perception). Depending on your belief in the moment, you may feel different emotions. If you believe your friends shunned you, you may feel lonely and want to find them and fix whatever led them to shun you (emotions/motivation). If you believe you have work to do alone, you may be glad for the time alone and want to get to work (emotions/motivation). You may have any of many other beliefs. Depending on the belief and resulting motivation, you will behave differently — to find your friends if lonely, to work if relieved, and so on. If you act on the motivation you’ll feel reward when you start acting, knowing you’re improving your situation, even while you feel the loneliness.

Try seeing how any emotion fits into cycles you feel, for example whatever emotions you feel now. Or that you felt yesterday or years ago or when you were bored or excited.

With practice you start noticing all your emotions in the context of their cycles. This functional, system-based view makes bringing about the emotions you want and resilience to those you don’t much easier. We’ll return to acting on the Model after we cover it in more depth.

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2 responses on “The Model: examples of emotional cycles

  1. Pingback: Joshua Spodek » The Model: where emotional cycles came from

  2. Pingback: Joshua Spodek » The Model: our emotions transcend “nature red in tooth and claw”

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