In this new series on emotions, we explore the different emotions, how they influence our life, and how we can use them to help us grow psychologically and spiritually. In this first episode, we explain:
Are Your Emotions Helping or Hurting You?
Debra Maldonado, Robert Maldonado
Debra Maldonado 00:08
Hello, welcome back to another episode of Soul Sessions with Creative Mind. How are you today, Rob?
Robert Maldonado 00:14
Very well, thank you.
Debra Maldonado 00:15
Excited about our new series?
Robert Maldonado 00:19
We've been wanting to do a series on emotions primarily because emotions are so important for human happiness. We know they play a big role in the unconscious mind.
Debra Maldonado 00:33
And also transformation. Jung says that there is no transformation without emotion. We're going to talk a little bit about the biology of emotion, the spirituality of emotion, and the psychology of emotion today, but we're going to continue the series to go deep into different emotions like anger, jealousy, love, and explore them and how they impact our life and how we can deal with them and get home for dinner. Let's talk about just what are emotions just in general so people can understand where we're at.
Robert Maldonado 01:10
It's certainly important to give you our perspective, that way you know where we're coming from. By all means, if you have practices on working with emotions that worked for you, stay with those, there's no need to jump ship or anything like that. Our point of view is very Jungian, very Eastern philosophy. We do look at the neuroscience and what it shows to see if we're off track, or there is some correlation there, if it supports the way we're thinking about it. But in general, our perspective is very unique in that we're not going to present the typical cognitive behavioral process of working with anger or emotions.
Debra Maldonado 02:03
Which is the popular way to work. We're gonna offer just another take on it, another perspective. When you think about emotions, what are emotions? Are they energy in the body? Are they psychological experiences? What are they?
Robert Maldonado 02:29
It's a big question still in psychology and in research. But we can think of them in the context of evolution, we needed emotions in order to understand the meaning of our experience in the world. If you think about social interaction, it's all about emotions. It's all about what does this person make me feel? How do they make me feel? Then we read each other's faces, in order to see, to infer what they are feeling about me. It’s that reflection that's going on continuously.
Debra Maldonado 03:09
Whether you're conscious of it or not, because a lot of people say “I don't feel anything.” Sometimes when we train in the emotional wisdom techniques that we teach, a lot of times our coaches will run into clients that don't feel anything. They are feeling something, they're just not conscious of it. Everything that motivates us in life is through it, we're motivated through emotion.
Robert Maldonado 03:33
It is the driving fuel of the mind, of the psyche. In psychodynamic theory, and Jungian psychology is definitely a psychodynamic model, what fuels those mechanisms of the mind is the emotions. They are the fuel for movement, motivation, inspiration, ideas, dreams, etc. Let's back up a little bit. Let's go into the biology. What do we know biologically that we can verify if you go to the biology books and look it up. We know we're dealing with the autonomic nervous system. To distinguish the autonomic nervous system from the voluntary nervous system, meaning our ability to make decisions and move consciously — when I say I'm gonna go get some some water, that's a conscious choice. But the ordinate of the autonomic nervous system is operating independently of my thoughts and will. It's doing its work automatically. Thus autonomic. That autonomic nervous system is composed of two systems, it's like a ying and yang, like hot and cold. The sympathetic nervous system operates on neuro epinephrine. It increases respiration, sweating, heart rate, it pumps you up and prepares you for fight or flight, running away or freezing, or doing something that you need to be doing. The parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite side of it, it cools you down, it operates on acetylcholine, decreases arousal, decreases heart rate, relaxes you.
Debra Maldonado 05:42
It's the homeostasis, those two systems keep us in a state of balance. For tend to be hyper, this other system will try to calm you down and need to take over.
Robert Maldonado 05:56
It’s because you need something to calm you down after you run away from the danger, or fight the battle. Something to keep the system from expanding all its energy at once. The parasympathetic nervous system is that relaxation response that brings everything down and cools it down. We have these systems, which is incredible, because if you think about it, our bodies are designed to react to the environment without us having to think about it. There's a mechanism, for example, if somebody throws a rock at me, my system will react without me having to think “There's a rock coming at me, I should lift my arm and try to deflect it.” It will do it automatically, it bypasses the brain, it doesn't have to go all the way to the brain and back again, it simply goes right into the spinal cord. It loops around and makes your arm react appropriately. It's an incredible system. We're finely tuned to fit into the world. We evolved this way for millions of years. Our Earth, whether we like it or not, whether we admit, is our home, it's the context of our bodies and our evolution.
Debra Maldonado 07:33
The system is really the way our inner life interacts with the outer world. Quite simply. Let's talk about what emotions are in a deeper way. Because there are different ideas of what they are. Is it a feeling? Is it a mood? What's happening?
Robert Maldonado 07:55
Let’s, first of all, clarify some of the words that are often used interchangeably with emotions. Feelings are not the same thing. Mood and affect are dissociated.
Debra Maldonado 08:09
If someone says “I'm in a depressed mood” that's not an emotion?
Robert Maldonado 08:15
No, but it's related obviously. The feeling is the subjective experience in the body. Like you said, often we're afraid of experiencing an emotion because the way it makes us feel.
Debra Maldonado 08:34
One emotion a lot of us are afraid of is feeling guilt. We just hate feeling guilty. How do we push that away? It just feels so yucky. Sometimes we don't like to feel anger or sadness. But when we’re really looking at it, it is a physical sensation in the body. I often say that anxiety and excitement are actually the same feeling in the body. If you pay attention, a lot of these emotions, the labels have the same sense in the body. We have to think about it as the feeling in the body, then the mind gives it a label.
Robert Maldonado 09:25
We'll talk about that when we get to the different theories of emotions. But feeling is not the same thing as an emotion. We feel that emotion though. It's the subjective experience of an emotion in the body. The mood is an emotional state that persists over time. In clinical psychology, for example, they talk about mood disorders, simply depression. Anxiety is a mood disorder as well. But often anxiety is considered part of depression. It's got its own category because it's one of the main diagnosis that people get, anxiety disorders. But mood disorders are often associated with depression, dysthymia, which is a low grade depression, people get used to thinking “This is as good as it gets, I'm just going to live with this.”
Debra Maldonado 10:34
A lack of motivation, or lethargic feeling toward life. Not super sad but just numb in a way.
Robert Maldonado 10:44
When emotions persist and become the individual's way of coping with the world, they become a mood disorder. They persist so long or for an intense amount of time, it becomes a diagnostic criteria or a way of helping the individual identify what's going on with their emotional life. It becomes a mood disorder.
Debra Maldonado 11:17
I don't know if we're going to talk about this later on in this discussion, but I noticed that even when we're kids and feeling a certain way, the parent would say “You are sad” or “You are being mad.” It's like labeling the person as the emotion, the emotion becomes part of the persona.
Robert Maldonado 11:37
Certainly, people identify with their disorders. Actually, there was terminology in the past, where people would say that he's a depressive, or she's a depressive. Meaning that's how they identified this person, that’s who they were. Then individuals often identify, they might say “I'm a bipolar person” or “I’m a personality disorder.” They identify with these mood states. It becomes part of their identity.
Debra Maldonado 12:16
That's why we don't like to feel them, the unpleasant ones, because we don't want to be labeled, it's almost like it's part of our shadow even to be expressing that emotion.
Robert Maldonado 12:29
The third term is an affect, often confused with emotion as well. But affect is like a big umbrella term. When you're talking about a person's affect, you're talking about the way to express emotions, their emotionality, their sensitivity to emotions, those things in general, like the big umbrella term. You have feelings, mood, and affect, often used interchangeably with emotions.
Debra Maldonado 13:01
If we're feeling we have an emotion, but we're not realizing, checking in our body and noticing that it's a feeling. It's not a psychological disorder to have an emotion. What are the functions of emotions, there's a reason why we have them?
Robert Maldonado 13:24
There's a reason they evolved and the reason they persisted up to this day from evolutionary times, or throughout evolution. First of all, they regulate arousal. Arousal simply means your state of alertness. You notice, if you're interested in something, you tend to pay attention and absorb it, you tend to learn it and remember it. When you're not interested in something, that's a lot harder. You have to study and memorize and use all these techniques to try to get your brain to hold on to that information.
Debra Maldonado 14:15
That's why they say when you tell stories that have emotion, people tend to remember them more. Because we get aroused, we're more alert, we hook into the story and the theme more than we think in logical terms.
Robert Maldonado 14:29
They help us direct perception and attention. In practical terms, that's what they're doing. The emotion is telling us “This is important, pay attention. This is not important, ignore it. You've seen it before, you you know what it is, don't worry about it.” Whereas the emotion tells us “This is important, hold on to it.” The mind uses that system to hold on to past experiences, sorted memories, and more than memory — the unconscious mind, we'll talk more about that.
Debra Maldonado 15:08
So I remember that that didn't make me feel good. A lot of people have irrational fears, they would call them, about things that they don't know why they don't like this or that. Growing up, I really hated whistling, when I heard someone whistle, it would just trigger me, and I have no idea why. I think it's because maybe one of the older uncles or whatever used to do that. Maybe I didn't have a good feeling around him. Or maybe he made me feel uncomfortable. I hear a whistle, and just boom, that emotion kicks in. In a way, it's good to help us survive as well. If we're sensing something's off, our feeling would trigger that, like a memory to warn us.
Robert Maldonado 16:01
Jung thought about intuition in those terms, it's the unconscious mind telling us what something means, without us really being conscious of it, or understanding it, understanding why. It goes back to those early experiences, conditioning. Another function of emotions is to influence learning and memory. This is important for students or simply everyone who wants to learn something new. The context in which you learn is important. If you want to do better on a test, try to study near the classroom, or better yet in the classroom and in the chair where you're going to take the test. The context reinforces your memory, when you're in that chair, you're doing exactly what you're learning, you're able to recall it a lot better.
Debra Maldonado 17:07
When I would have people visualize taking a test or doing something like public speaking, I would have them imagine themselves being in that place, feeling a good feeling, anchoring in an emotion to the event. It's similar to planting a memory. The philosophy around it is the brain or the body feels like they already did it, it's not something new. You're basically creating a memory of something, then your mind doesn't know the difference between you imagining it and what you actually do. It's like “I've done this talk before, I've done this test before. I'm experiencing this test, I feel this way.” That’s a really great way emotions can help us anchor into different experiences.
Robert Maldonado 17:59
We know the memory, smell, and learning are closely tied. If you notice, when you smell something, it takes you back to an early memory. It's because the sense of smell is closely tied to the limbic system, which is the emotional part of us, as well as the memory system, the hippocampus. They're all related, they're all close like neighbors, and they talk to each other. The sense of smell is one of the oldest ones.If you think about those early sea creatures that crawled out of the bottom of the ocean, they were blind, they didn't need any eyes, but they could smell, they could detect chemical sense. Anyway, we digress. The other one is, of course, organize emotions, organize and motivate behavior. Now this is important for coaching, of course, because we know we want to motivate people to do their best and to achieve their goals. The emotion is highly tied to that.
Debra Maldonado 19:38
You can learn everything intellectually, you can really learn a lot of different theories about your past and yourself. But until you have that emotion, a coach really helps you organize and take those in, adding the emotion into it to shift that behavior, shift that understanding. It's like a direct experience versus just an idea, get from the thinking to the feeling.
Robert Maldonado 20:09
You were a motivational speaker. How did you motivate people?
Debra Maldonado 20:14
You have to get them to feel. Most people, sad to say, are motivated by fear. That FOMO, that fear of missing out, that fear of living a meaningless life. We don't want to talk about fear in the future. But I think it's actually a good thing. Because imagine if we were so complacent with our lives and didn't really think it was important to do anything meaningful, we wouldn't have that motivation. We’d just go through life, maybe have this vanilla life, but wouldn’t have that juice. Some people are motivated by fear, other people are motivated by the possibility, but more likely, it's fear. It's really the life force. When we talk about defining emotions, which we will, fear is not a bad thing. But if it's not used, it can be destructive. That's how most people are motivated. Not that you would go out as a speaker and motivate them through fear but the speaker talks about aspiration. Then the person feels this missing out within themselves, it's arising from within the person. The motivator is not putting fear into people. It's basically awakening that fear of what if I don't make something in my life? What if I'm missing out on something? When I was younger, before I listened to everything is possible in your life, I just thought I was reacting to life. But when you're given that idea that you can create your life, then all of a sudden it's like “I can't just sit on my bum and wait for myself to be discovered, I have to go make it happen.” It creates a sense of movement and urgency, which, I think, is good. Also being in a community of people that are moving and creating things in your life, that also generates fear. Not the community, but the person who's not moving forward, it makes them say “I could do that too. Why am I not doing that?” It helps everyone be better, grow.
Robert Maldonado 22:30
That's interesting. Because you would think, most motivational speakers are inspiring people and getting them to move but you're saying, no, the other side of the coin is the fear that the individual’s working with continuously. I guess that's what has held them back.
Debra Maldonado 22:49
There are some motivational people that use fear to get people to buy stuff, but really it is in the person. The person is the one, no one can actually put fear into you. It's your own, it's right for you. It's awakening that part of you that wants to grow. Then there's this fear of what if I don't, life is going by. We should have that urgency because we're only here for a certain amount of time, we should feel that.
Robert Maldonado 23:24
The last function of emotion is communicate with others. We communicate through our passions, our feeling, our friendship, through our anger, relationships, through romance. Emotions really make life and our experience with other people very rich, colorful, meaningful. Without emotions, it would be a bland world without much passion. But because we do have this rich emotional life going on within us, we're able then to connect to people in real way.
Debra Maldonado 24:13
Earlier in your career you worked with kids with autism. A lot of that is not that they don't have emotion, but they don't know how to express it. Do you think that's why they have a hard time communicating with other people, they don't have that ability to connect on an emotional level. They seem to be more rational and practical.
Robert Maldonado 24:37
That's one of the theories, they call it sometimes the extreme male mind. If you think about how we think about men and take it to the extreme, that would be autism. Think like Dr. Spock who just rationalizes everything and doesn't really tap into the emotions.
Debra Maldonado 25:08
You had said to me many times that men and women both have the same kind of emotions. But men aren't socialized to express them as much as women are. Do you think that's why women are able to do more community work, where men have their couple of good friends, but they're not— Of course, there's exceptions everywhere.
Robert Maldonado 25:34
We tend to use these stereotypes as shorthand because that's how the brain works, it tries to categorize things and tag them, label them as a shorthand for memory. But the world doesn't really work that way. Everyone has an emotional life. If you think why do people love music? Because it makes them feel, it's touching the very deep parts of the nervous system, the limbic system, the emotional brain. It gives you that great feeling of taking you back to certain places or certain emotions. The idea that men don't have emotions is really ridiculous.
Debra Maldonado 26:26
It's just about how they present themselves and express it. I also think, when you say go back to memory, if we think back, when you think about all memories of your life, the peak moments of your life, we do this exercise with our coaches and students about how to look at those moments. What we noticed is that there's always an emotion tied to it. You don't remember January 17 2004, unless something happened that day, like a big public event. But you would remember that's the day that my dog died, or that's the day that I broke up with my boyfriend, that’s the day that I got this new job. You would remember those memories, maybe not the date, but you would have those memories because there's an emotion attached to it.
Robert Maldonado 27:25
One last thing for this overview. We're going to talk about basic emotions. What are basic emotions? Sadness, contempt, anger, disgust, surprise, and fear. In some of the early researches they were looking at what are the emotions that everyone on the planet can recognize on a face? We evolved in social groups. Face recognition, being able to read what's going on with this person just from looking at their body language, that was a big part.
Debra Maldonado 28:16
Isn't that transcultural too? If you made a face of any of these emotions, like sadness, contempt, or anger, no matter what language you speak or culture you're in, we recognize that expression?
Robert Maldonado 28:37
Yes and no. Because these basic emotions, it was the start of research into emotions. But it's still important. Sadness, contempt, anger, disgust, surprise, and fear. Because they are universal, the big building blocks of human interaction.
Debra Maldonado 29:04
We need all of them. We can't get rid of contempt forever. Get rid of fear forever, be fearless.
Robert Maldonado 29:11
We're not trying to get rid of anything in understanding emotions. We're just trying to understand what are their functions and how can we deal with them in a more enlightened way?
Debra Maldonado 29:22
I think we should always check into to see are we allowing ourselves to feel these six basic emotions?
Robert Maldonado 29:33
Absolutely. First, it's about understanding what they are because if we don't have a name for it, we often don't know what to do with that emotion. It's a feeling, it's a sensation in our body. But what is it? If we don't have a definition for it, then we're not able to talk about it.
Debra Maldonado 29:57
I think we're missing one. What about joy?
Robert Maldonado 30:01
That's right, happiness, joy. But we'll get to that later. The problem with this early research of the basic emotions was that it didn't take into account how different cultures label these emotions.
Debra Maldonado 30:22
Because some of them it's a stigma to express?
Robert Maldonado 30:25
In some cultures, of course, they're more boisterous, they're allowed to express it. In other cultures those are considered taboos, you don't do that in public. It's a good start, but it's been debunked a little bit or put under the spotlight to examine what is really going on, is this a valid way to proceed into the research of emotions. It's more nuanced now, people are starting to think more in evolutionary terms. What are these emotions? What role are they playing in the way we socialize, we learn in, we create technologies, etc. But they're still important, we'll be talking about anger, fear, sadness, all these things a little bit more. But happiness, of course, and joy as well. Some of the self conscious, or what I call, social emotions, shame, guilt, envy, and empathy. There are others, but these are the big social ones that help us relate to other people.
Debra Maldonado 31:50
Would you say the basic ones are more about survival, and the social ones are a little higher level of expression? These are also about social survival, but this one is more about physical survival.
Robert Maldonado 32:04
I would say that the basic ones are talking about your internal experience, what you're feeling towards life, towards situations, towards other people. Whereas the subconscious ones help you regulate. They are giving you important information about relationships.
Debra Maldonado 32:27
You can have fear about an object where this one is more self conscious and social around another person. You're not jealous of your car, you're not jealous of an inanimate object, but with a person there is jealousy, guilt. It's more about being in the community, about social survival and belonging,
Robert Maldonado 32:50
Not only survival, but social building, because it's important to build good relationships with people. Shame and guilt give you information as to when you're screwing up, when you've done something wrong, you've hurt somebody else's feelings, you've transgressed against their boundaries, something has happened. It gives you that heads up, you need to repair this relationship, you need to say you're sorry, you need to make amends, anything like that. Really important emotions. If you're not aware of them, if you're not really paying attention to these emotions as they arise, you miss those cues. You go on and mess up relationships, create chaos everywhere you go, etc. Envy. This is a recent research with monkeys. The researcher would give one monkey a grape, which is considered high value in the monkey community because of its sweetness. The other monkey would get a piece of celery, low in the value scale. The monkey that got the celery would observe the other monkey get a grape. What he did after a while, after a few trials, he would throw the celery at the researcher. It's a fairness thing. It's built into our evolution to look at what's going on socially.
Debra Maldonado 34:40
Is that why people have a problem with money? They say don't take it all, you don't want to be greedy. Then if you don't have it, it's not fair. If you think about our social structure, it's all about economics and what economic pocket you are in, and your identity and value according to them.
Robert Maldonado 35:08
If you think about office politics, who gets the boss's attention? Who gets the corner office? Who gets the raise? As human beings, if we don't understand these processes that we call emotion, we're blindly reacting to these things and thinking that it's an unfair world, unjust world. We get angry, anger takes us into aggression and bitterness and getting sick. It escalates and leads us in these spirals that are not very healthy, not very productive, not very enlightening.
Debra Maldonado 35:56
Let's talk about emotions as a part of conditioning because we make all our decisions emotionally. If we are in a situation, the boss is giving Mary all the promotions, we're feeling this feeling, it is creating our lack mentality, creating that experience. When we look at the emotion, we can either feel like the victim and feel like we get retribution. Or we can take the emotion and actually go “That's interesting, I’m jealous. I actually secretly want to have that promotion. What am I doing? How am I thinking? Where is my energy going? Why I didn't get that, why am I not creating that in my life?” versus feeling— I think a lot of times we just take our emotions for face value. I feel this way, and I'm justified because of XYZ. We don't take personal responsibility for unconsciously what we've created. That's why the effect is showing up the way it is.
Robert Maldonado 37:06
If you think about the way we're trained, it's all about cognition. Almost nothing on emotions. Your parents as well. They don't know how to teach a child about their emotions. They just say be nice.
Debra Maldonado 37:26
You’re being bad when you're angry. When you're being bad, when you're sad. Or even crying. I've had clients who say their parents told them “Don't cry. I’ll give you something to cry about.” Especially boys. They're conditioned to hide more than the girls. The girl gets coddled more. Then if you're not, you're thinking the world is not going to take care of my emotions anyway. So let me just push them down.
Robert Maldonado 37:57
Yes, many different ways of dealing with emotions, except in this conscious, enlightened way of understanding what are they? What do they mean? How do we work with them?
Debra Maldonado 38:11
In answer to our question, can emotions heal us and help us? Or can they hurt us?
Robert Maldonado 38:17
Both. They can be our best friend or they can be our worst enemy.
Debra Maldonado 38:25
If we feel that the emotion that we're feeling, the cause is external, then it feels very constricting and powerless. Because we feel like the circumstances out there need to change for us to feel something inside. Wouldn't you agree?
Robert Maldonado 38:41
Yes. In the office politics situation, we know we're going to have to stay or we want to continue to work there. We're gonna have to deal with a situation. The question is not “Do I rage? Do I tell on Mary?” The approach is to understand that this envy is a natural part of our evolutionary history, therefore I'm going to feel it in my body, it's going to come up as a question. When somebody is getting something unfairly or I'm observing or even that my mind is interpreting that way, I'm still going to feel it. The question is, what do I do with it? Do I buy into it as a reality or as an absolute situation that I can only react to through anger or disgust or running away, or is there a way that I can acknowledge that emotion because what a lot of people do is repress it.
Debra Maldonado 40:06
They want to get rid of this feeling. It's negative, it's not spiritual, it's not Godlike, it's not Christian to feel envy, it’s a deadly sin. All these supposedly negative emotions have a lot of heaviness around them.
Robert Maldonado 40:27
The ideal is to recognize these emotions, understand that I can still take action without necessarily pushing the emotion away, but also without buying into it. I'm not buying into the anger, into the envy. I'm working with it, I'm staying with it, recognize it and do something with that energy. But I'm going to take action with non attachment, non aggression, not out of the emotional reaction, but out of rationality.
Debra Maldonado 41:04
Here's a quick question I ask people when they're feeling an emotion that is unpleasant. I ask them what their secret wish is. If you could wave a magic wand, this situation with your boss and the other colleague who got the promotion could play out, how would you like to play it? I'd like it to play out where I am getting the promotion, I am getting the accolades. Then we look deeper into it. What we really find out in the shadow is that what we're projecting onto the person who got the promotion is our shadow. We're seeing that there's something, maybe we don't want people to be envious of us. How much of our life do we play in the background, we don't want to be bragging, we don't want to be kissing up to the boss, we don't want other people to think badly of us. Then we don't get that raise. By examining that envy and looking at both sides and saying what this is about, you can make a conscious choice. You can say “I actually do want that raise. I'm not attached to how people feel about it. I'm not attached to getting it. But I feel like I want to make it a choice now versus it's unconscious, something in me is disturbed, but I don't have any power.” You just get all your power back, that’s the beauty of emotion. It's like when I was a kid, we’d go fishing all the time. We'd have those bobbers, emotion is like when you put the fishing pole in the water and the fish is hooked on to the hook, it pulls the bobber down. When we're hooked, it’s almost like these unconscious parts of ourselves are tugging. The part that we can see is that bobber, which is the emotion, we're feeling the sensation in our body, it's saying “There's something here”, we're going into the unconscious, in the water, to retrieve that fish that what it is. I'm sorry for all those vegetarians out there, we always throw them back, we didn't eat the fish. But it really is that kind of thinking of it. It's a good thing to feel these triggers because they are opening us up to where we're not in our choice, where we're just reacting to life. It's always an opportunity, whether it's disgust, jealousy, anger, or even joy. Why am I so attached to this feeling of joy? What am I giving so much power to? When we get infatuated with a partner, get infatuated with a dream that we have, how attached we can get to it.
Robert Maldonado 43:39
We'll definitely talk more about the particular and individual emotions and what they mean for us and how to work with them, as well as the unconscious mind and the shadow that you mentioned. Now let's stay on this big topic. We've looked a little bit at the biology, a little bit at the psychology of how we experience these emotions. Then the spiritual element is something we want to touch upon. Because almost all religions, all spiritual traditions mention emotions in some form or another. Some villainize them and say emotions are the devil in a sense, they're the things that are going to lead you into temptation, down the wrong path, into sin, let’s get rid of them, let's suppress them, let's find a way to beat it out of us. Others are more enlightened, in some of the Buddhist practices they work with difficult emotions in a meditative way, try to approach them that way. It boils down to the worldview that these traditions have come up in. Eastern traditions were developed in a paradigm where it's a conscious universe. We're not dealing with biological machines or animals like in the western models, that are out for themselves, out to survive. We’re not only dealing with that, but we're dealing with these higher elements in the mind and consciousness that allow us to transcend our biological conditioning. In the West, the emphasis has been on evolution and a material universe. That is a very different paradigm. What a lot of people have been trying to do is mix the two. That has been confusing, and from our point of view it's been a disaster because what's been happening is that the spiritual practices that have come down from traditional cultures, Eastern wisdom, have been medicalized now. Westerners are seeing things through that therapy model, through the fixing model, through the cognitive.
Debra Maldonado 46:34
Diagnosis and treatment, there's something broken, we got to fix it.
Robert Maldonado 46:39
Nothing wrong with that, it has its part. But when you apply it to transformational spiritual practices, you are you're doing a great disservice to everyone, to the tradition that it comes from, to the people that want to learn these things.
Debra Maldonado 47:02
Or want to improve their life. But if you keep treating them as if they're broken, it's like a self defeating prophecy for them. You're projecting that there's something wrong with them to them, how can they become potentials if you think there's something wrong with them. It really comes from that idea of the coach or the teacher seeing the client as pure potential, the things that they're experiencing, no matter what they are, are about possibility. I was talking about the emotion, like not medicalizing this idea of envy. It's bad, let's clear the envy out, let’s take the energy of envy and dissolve it and make it love. Treatment of an emotion as if there's something off about it instead of something that's going to help us grow. It's a normal experience that we should all feel.
Robert Maldonado 48:04
It goes back to these paradigms again. We can think of a paradigm as the structure or the framework that we use to understand something. If we use the materialistic paradigm to understand emotions, we think there's good and bad, there's good and bad emotions. How do we know they're bad? Because they feel bad in our body. When we approach it from that point of view, anger and anything that feels bad or yucky, we tend to label as evil, bad, we want to get rid of it. Again, that medical model of fixing, of getting rid of them. That's a symptom, that's pointing to some kind of disorder, some kind of disease. Let's medicalize it, let's throw some medication at it. Whereas if we approach it from that consciousness paradigm, a conscious universe, everything is awareness, everything is consciousness. These emotions are here to teach us. They're part of the training of being a human being.
Debra Maldonado 49:28
There's nothing that is not included in consciousness. Everything belongs.
Robert Maldonado 49:38
A lot of those traditions do not neglect suffering. Of course, we go through difficult experiences in life. We experienced the loss of loved ones, illness, the death of friends and parents, all these very difficult things. But they say that is part of human suffering. If you notice it's universal. You can say some people suffer more than others — maybe, their circumstances are more difficult, more intense. But in general, they say all human suffering is the same thing. All humans, because we are conscious beings and live in a conscious universe, are capable of transcending human suffering. No one gets left behind, everyone is capable of transcending human suffering. Very different models. But you see that when people try to interpret some of these eastern enlightened traditions from the materialistic therapy— There’s nothing wrong with trying to learn, of course, from Eastern traditions and bring it into therapy or medicine. But you have to be aware of these things. If you're not taking into consideration the paradigms under which they were created, then you run that risk.
Debra Maldonado 51:21
You'll interpret it differently. If you grew up in a western society like most of us have, we tend to see things as negative and positive, good and bad, you hear people say “Change your negative thoughts to positive thoughts, your negative emotions to positive.” There's supposedly a hierarchy of emotions, these emotions are better to have than the negative and dark emotions. We end up trying to fix ourselves all the time, we're trying to attain this perfection that as a human being is hard. Part of being human is making mistakes and having the drama of life. We don't want to live this vanilla high lightness floating around and not really feeling the deliciousness of the pain of the lost one. It reminds us how much we love and how much meaning that person had for us. If we don't feel that pain, it’s like that person didn't mean anything to us. Do we want that? No, but we want to approach it as nothing's wrong. I hope someone cries when I'm gone. You want someone to mourn who you love. It really is that dropping the judgment, overall of these emotions, because the Western world tends to put things in categories and labels and judgments to create this perfect state. Not really letting people be human, dehumanizing people that are angry or having these feelings. That's why we create, in Jung's psychology, the shadow. We are taught socially not to show these emotions, not to express yourself that way. You don't want to be labeled that. It basically creates that conflict.
Robert Maldonado 53:11
One of the things that we want to talk about in this series is this idea of how our past experiences have impacted our current situation. From the western model of memory and trauma. Trauma is a big topic now. From that perspective, when you experienced difficult emotions in your past, these emotions traumatized you. These emotions traumatize your mind, therefore you're injured somehow. Now you need a medical treatment, therapy. It's a medical model. The bad paradigm then puts you, if you buy into it, we know the way consciousness and mind work, we've talked about it in other podcasts. What we believe becomes like the vessel that we pour consciousness into, we're pouring our awareness into this model of brokenness. So both the therapist and the client now have bought into this idea.
Debra Maldonado 54:46
Even some coaches do therapy and don't even realize that they're taking the role as a therapist for the client, which is not really what coaching is about.
Robert Maldonado 54:57
But that means now that the only place that the therapist or the coach can take the client to is to that fixed mode. And the fixed mode is just the baseline of human functioning.
Debra Maldonado 55:21
Back to normal. It's like you're very normal. I always think of it as a deficit. The therapist or the coach is approaching the client or patient as they have a deficit. It's like going into the well and digging them out of that well so they can be on the surface, where in a potential based model, they're already on the surface, you're teaching them how to climb to the other level. It's a very different place than “you poor, injured person, I have to dig you out of this well first.” Sometimes we feel like we're always in that well. I was in that well for years thinking I was in that paradigm of something's wrong with me, that's why I don't have the things I love. That's why I'm not happy with my life. That's why I don't have love. That's why I don't have the success I want. Because something is wrong with me, I need to fix the patterns.
Robert Maldonado 56:13
We know that there are people that do need that model, because they go through wars and famines and through terrible things. Sometimes children go through these difficult things. That definitely is a useful model to have. But again, it's like in western medicine. We know that Western medicine is very good at treating acute problems. If I break a leg or get an infection, I'm going to go to the doctor, to the hospital, of course, I'm not gonna go to a healer, or I'm not gonna go meditate, I need to take care of this problem. It's the same kind of analogy here. When you're traumatized, you need a therapist, psychiatrist. But when you're doing spiritual development, you don't need to medicalize your life and say there's something wrong with me, I'm not happy. The Eastern paradigm of conscious universe simply says “We acknowledge human suffering, of course it's happening, you've experienced suffering in your life. But the self in you, the pure awareness in you can’t be damaged by any of those experiences. If you approach the mind that way, you're pouring your awareness, your consciousness into a much different vessel of possibility. Your work in spiritual development is going to take you to very different places than if you start off from that medicalized spiritual model.
Debra Maldonado 58:04
You spend years just getting out of the well. When if you're out of the well already, you can go on your journey and create something new, instead of staying stuck in the past, reprocessing. I did that for so long. Every time I went to a workshop, it was like “Let's work on your daddy issue" or “Let's work on this thing that happened to your confidence.” It was just constantly working on myself. I hear a lot of people say “I'm so exhausted from working on myself.” Stop working on yourself, start creating yourself, start creating instead of work. It shouldn't be work. I think more people would do personal development, the world would be more open to it if they saw it blesses us and there'd be less shame around it. If we see it as I'm making myself even better. I'm not damaged and need help. People would approach it with more confidence and be more willing to do the work.
Robert Maldonado 59:03
The key point is the emotions are not neglected. They're included in the work but from that perspective of a conscious universe. Meaning that the awareness is dealing with the emotions, the self in you that is aware of those emotions, is not damaged by any of the emotions, it can work with them, it can direct them, it can use the energy of that emotion for motivation, for growth, for creativity.
Debra Maldonado 59:35
It's self examination and self exploration. We want to integrate, Jung was big on integration. We want to integrate, not get rid of anything, we want to take all the parts of being human, the dark and the light of being human, then also the light from our higher awareness of who we really are. We want to bring them into a full empowered person. That's what the series is going to be about. Next week we're going to talk about the destructive power of emotions, how they can really take us down some dark paths, and how we can get out of it if we fall into those traps. We'll see you next week, a lot of info today, an extra long episode. But we wanted to lay the groundwork. Hope you enjoyed all the context that we're going to be presenting in the series.
Robert Maldonado 1:00:28
Feel free to comment, ask questions of course. We look at those questions and use them to design our talks, our podcasts. Thanks for watching, and we'll see you soon.
Debra Maldonado 1:00:42
Don't forget to subscribe to our channel. There's a link on the bottom that you can click on to subscribe and check us out on iTunes. If you feel moved, we'd love to hear a review. Leave an honest review. We'd love to hear them, it also helps us get more people listening to the show. So another ending to another great episode of Soul Sessions with Creative Mind, and we'll see you next week.
Robert Maldonado 1:01:09
See you soon.
Debra Maldonado 1:01:10