Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Emotional identify and emotional inheritance.

From The Book of Life, on emotional identity:
... Emotional Identity, the characteristic way in which our desires and fears manifest themselves and our personalities respond to the behaviour, negative and positive, of others. There are four main themes around which our Emotional Identities are structured and it is their particular dosage and arrangement within us that decisively shapes who we are. To get to know ourselves is – in large part – a question of coming to understanding the configuration of our Emotional Identity.
Those four main themes are listed as self-love, candour, communication and trust.

For me, reading the self-love section is prickly, since I know how it's a very difficult subject for me. The page includes a simple test - and I clearly have a very high score for "lack of" self-love.

The chapter also discusses what it calls Emotional Inheritance:
What creates Emotional Identity? Why do we have the emotional identity we do and not a different one?
 A big modern response looks to genetics. We’ve got a specific genetic inheritance and (via many complex processes) this inheritance shapes our adult personality. We’re not saying genetics are irrelevant. But we want to focus attention on another kind of inheritance: Emotional Inheritance.
Developed mainly in early childhood, it plays a major role in our most basic character traits:
Psychotherapists have developed a special term to capture what we inherit emotionally from the past: they call it our ‘transference’. In their view, each of us is constantly at risk of ‘transferring’ patterns of behaviour and feeling from the past to a present that doesn’t realistically call for it. We feel a need to punish people who aren’t to blame; we worry about a humiliation which isn’t anywhere on the cards; we’re compelled to betray as we were once, three decades before, betrayed.
So how do we navigate knowing what we're pre-disposed to?
Maturity involves accepting with good grace that we are, of course, involved in multiple transferences, along with a commitment to try rationally to disentangle them. The job of growing up means realising with due humility the exaggerated dynamics we may constantly be bringing to situations and to monitor ourselves more accurately and more critically so as to improve our capacity to judge and act in the here and now with greater fairness and neutrality. We need to see how the people and situations in our past that have given rise to habits of mind that lead us to see current events in particular ways. The idea is to grow a little wiser as to where our troubles are coming from and around what areas of our lives we will therefore need to be especially careful.
Lastly, three benefits are listed as being the result of this type of self-reflection:
Firstly, we become aware of ways in which we are a bit crazy (that is: puzzling to others and inappropriate in our responses). We can catch ourselves before we do too much damage. But we also grasp why we are like this. We don’t have to hate ourselves, we can become more sympathetic to the way we’ve had some awkward legacies – and have learnt a few somewhat counterproductive ways of coping.
Secondly, we can more calmly explain ourselves to others. Even if we can’t entirely change, we can flag up what might be challenging about living around us. If we understand ourselves better we can help others understand us more sympathetically too. 
Thirdly, we begin to see that we have a degree of freedom and opportunity to change (to a limited but useful degree) the difficult parts of who we are. We don’t have to keep on repeating exactly what we’ve been doing. There are other options.
A worthy read, a lot to unpack.

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