Tag Archives: anger

The Emotion Compass

The Emotion Compass



Emotion Compass



This is a short introduction to the emotion compass which I designed during my last year of my Psychiatry Residency.  If you wish to see more information about this instrument, feel free to visit the article on my blog.  This is an instrument which I created based on some data extracted from the book, “Language of Emotion”, by Dr. Joel Davitz.

In short, he would give a group of people a scenario like, “you give a speech and find your blouse or pants were undone”.  Then he would ask the subjects to respond to what you would feel by a survey.  Dr. Davitiz had the subjects answer based on a categorical system as well as provide a label of the emotion.  In the case of embarrassment. the subjects agreed on the categories as, “High Energy”, “Moving Away” and “Discomfort”, for example. 

By applying the various data formats, I aligned 50 most frequently (and most reported as common) emotions on a three graduated axis. This permitted me to actually visualize some similarities about various emotions in relation to each other.



It was only sometime later that I explored how it would work in reverse; by reflecting on characteristics of emotions in order to clue me into an emotion which I would be feeling (when I was not clear on what I felt).  Sure enough, it seemed to prove helpful.  I then constructed the following chart and asked some of my clients to use it during their journaling.  It was well received and seemed very useful in helping my clients connect to their emotions more clearly.  This was then the springboard I used for Cognitive Therapy. For when my patients could own the true feelings they experienced, then they can begin asking, “what types of thoughts bring these feelings on?”.  As it seemed useful in breaking through barriers in Cognitive Therapy, I have found it useful for myself as well.  Feel free to try it out.

Brief Instructions



When you want to explore what you may be ‘feeling’, go to one bold category that you are more certain about. Here I am pointing to “Movement”, with the subcategory of, “Away”. The feelings you may be having is probably one of the emotions in a colored box as this.



Now, identify one more column which you are confident about.  Here in the example, I point to the column of “Energy-Low”. So, if I want to “move away” and have “low energy”, then the likely emotion will be where I have a color box in both columns.



So, if you look at the emotion list on the left-hand side, any emotion that has both the “move away” and “low emotion” are likely emotions I am currently experiencing. Some of the emotions in common by this example are, “shame”, “grief”, “depression” and “apathy”.


I hope you will find this Emotion Compass as useful as I do.  








If you wish to download your own Emotion Compass, feel free to click HERE



The Emotion Compass was originally published on Braindoctr’s Blog


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A Quiet Answer…


Tame the Tongue

 I can tolerate many challenges, and meet a number of frustrations without taking my eyes off of my goal.  However, if there is really one thing that just wears on me abrasively, it is when two people resort to screaming instead of talking problems out.  I firmly believe I would prefer to reside peacefully in the wilderness than be in a castle full of luxury where it is walled by yelling and screaming. 
Let’s go to the book of Wisdom, Proverbs for some instruction on this.
 These KJV Bible verse comes to mind:
Proverbs 21:19
It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house”.
Proverbs 17:1
Better a dry crust with peace than a house full of feasting with strife.
Proverbs 22:10
Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.
Proverbs 15:18
A wrathful man stirreth up contention; But he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
Proverbs 15:4
A gentle tongue is a tree of life; But perverseness therein is a breaking of the spirit
This is  such an important matter, not only for the target person receiving the emotional abuse of screaming, but also the for the Screamer.  .The actual message conveyed when one screams is this “I am not in control...and I want to be in control of you too“.
Does that make people want to listen,  follow them and trust them?”
Another message conveyed by the screamer is ” I want you to respect my authority (because nobody else does)”.
Yelling and screaming stirs up anguish in others.  It is counter productive for any level of dialogue.  It blurs the necessary, distraction-free line of communication, that is desired.  Screaming creates barriers of guardedness, forcing a restrictive, controlled channel to relate any message. Any dialogue with an angry person is like trying to have a meaningful discussion through a keyhole.  It is mostly one direction without the open space to really communicate.  That is not dialogue, nor is it sharing. If someone is screaming and shouting then one thing is clear.  They are not ready to dialogue.  It would be best if they could deescalate first, then write a letter instead of destroying the bridgework of trust, when restoration is possible.
Let us consider Authority
Authority is something you have, but if it is lost, it is because you gave it away. Allow me to explain it through a well known bible story here.  Adam and Eve were given complete authority over all of God’s creatures in the garden.  Their Authority was secured by God’s Authority. It was not taken away by anyone, it was given away by by choice, through deception.
 Where do we attribute Authority?
Authority, is attributed to those who are esteemed as experts in a particular area. It is attributed to one who is regarded as having mastery of a particular matter.  When there is crime and chaos, a policeman may be called to the scene.  The officer is ascribed as having authority, because his role is needed to restore peace.  He is believed to have the training and skills necessary to bring an unstable situation back into control.  When one is dying of a malignant cancer, a doctor is requested to treat and halt the spread of the disease. He is regarded as an authority on matters related to the body and the diseases which threaten life.  
Let’s consider a simple example.  Let’s say you are taking a canoe down the rapids and lose control of your vessel.  Imagine that you are capsized and before long, you are being pulled down under the water by strong currents. You feel pounded by the rough waters slapping your face, making it hard to catch your breath.  Just then, you notice between choking gasps, that about ten feet away, a blurry glimpse of a rugged rock is piercing out above the turbulence of waves.  Don’t you think you would likely spend all your remaining energy just to swim toward the rock, knowing you might then escape a watery grave? Why would it be the best decision, to make this rock your goal?  It is because you believe you could survive if you could find a stable, fixed spot; you can minimize the risk of death by holding to an unchanging point, where the surroundings were unstable.
In any situation where there exist instability, we tend to notice those that appear fixed and resilient in the storms.  We gravitate toward; we swim to them for stability.  This is the way we ascribe authority.  When people appear in control, stable and unmoved within the chaos of life, we attribute authority to them.  We believe that they are equipped to deal with our particular areas of concern in a calm and knowledgeable way, which grants them confidence, appearing to have stability in an otherwise unstable circumstance.
It takes two to tango
Now, it is very important to clarify a common goal in dealing with differences.  A relationship can be established only when two individual, independent people, choose to value and depend on each other.  There were times that I have had patients arrive at my office without their spouse and say they were there to work on their marriage.  Even though their effort and time does evidence a level of commitment, it is not possible to for one person to make the marriage the goal of repair.  It takes two people to have a marriage, not one.  But one person may choose to work on how to be most effectively aligned for restoration, if and when the other spouse agrees to marriage counseling.  When a spouse does not show up for therapy, it is usually indicative that they do not believe they had contributed to the marital discord.  In such cases,  the blame game  becomes an exiting obstacle to acknowledging the needs of their spouse; compromising the true meaning and treasure that a relationship can hold. It does not mean they will never be happy without the spouse.  We are all made of similar stuff and have similar pursuits to complete us.  Just because your  apple tree in your back yard does not give you apples, it does not mean you have to give up apples.  It just means you may find apples that are available from trees near your yard. ( I refer here to friendships, hobbies and events, that are available.  It s best to leave the apples on the neighbor’s tree alone! ). One can still have a fulfilled life, even if your partner chooses not to share in all of it.
Now let us go back and  revisit the person who yells and screams at others.  Do they appear stable or unstable?  Do they appear knowledgeable or clueless about their situation?  So if a person resorts to screaming, do they seem worthy of your respect.  Will they earn authority or are they revealing that they have already given it away?  Do you wish to seek them out when challenges come your way?  Authority is only possible when the person exhibits stability amidst the chaos.
I have diverged in my topic, but allow me one more point.  If a person is fixed and focused on a changing reference, they will also appear changing.  If a person is fixed on a stable point, they appear stable; especially to those that are changing.
A captain of a ship will often follow the stars for navigation.  No matter what the changing waters do, they can still reach their destination without going astray.
If you wish to be absolutely stable, you need to focus on an absolute.  (for what it is worth, here is my two cents : Our God is unchanging).
 Stability is revealed by the evidence of consistency in our behavior.  Parents can model this by providing constant reinforcement , firm discipline, clear justice and evidencing reliability in thoughts and actions.  Some parents have told me, “My child does not obey me”  Well, this warrants a question, ” Are they modeling a disciplined life for them, and do are you following through with promises, security, comfort while remaining firm to your established house rules?” 
Here is something to think about.
If you do not honor your own words, why should your child?
So do  you wish to be respected? Do you wish to affirm  your authority?  Then being consistent in how you negotiate in life is very important.  If you let your priorities, rules and promises slide, why shouldn’t’ your child? If you are found stable and reliable in your posture, you will appear stable, and authority will more likely be attributed to you.
With all that being said,  I want to introduce an article on “yelling” and it’s impact on children.Enjoy.

University of Pittsburgh study cites harmful effects of yelling at teens

Lower your voices, Mom and Dad

September 16, 2013 12:00 AM

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By Anya Sostek Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Study after study has made the point that when it comes to disciplining children, physical punishment isn’t the answer.

Neither, it appears, is yelling.

A new study from a University of Pittsburgh researcher examines the effect of parents’ harsh verbal discipline on young teenagers.

The study, published online this month in the journal Child Development, found that 13- and 14-year-olds subjected to harsh verbal discipline from their parents were more likely to have symptoms of depression and behavioral problems.

Harsh verbal discipline from parents was found to be comparable to physical discipline in its effect, regardless of whether “parental warmth” was generally present in the home.

“Adolescents are really sensitive to language and judgment from other people,” said Ming-Te Wang, assistant professor in the Department of Education and Psychology at Pitt and lead author of the study. “It hurts their self-image and makes them feel like they are useless.”

The study characterized harsh verbal discipline as verbal intimidation (screaming or yelling), vulgarity (cursing) or humiliation (name-calling similar to “dumb” or “lazy”) and interviewed 967 adolescents and their parents in Eastern Pennsylvania over a two-year period. The study was co-authored by Sarah Kenny, a graduate student at the University of Michigan.

Forty-five percent of mothers and 42 percent of fathers of 13-year-olds said they used harsh verbal discipline. For 14-year-olds, 46 percent of mothers and 42 percent of fathers said they had done so. Those figures are probably underreported, Mr. Wang said, because some parents do not want to admit doing so.

Even in children with similar home circumstances, those whose parents said they used harsh verbal discipline had higher incidences of depression and behavioral problems. Parents turn to harsh language because they hope to stop certain behaviors, Mr. Wang said, but the tactics can create a “vicious cycle” that can actually make those behaviors worse.

The children and parents surveyed were mostly from middle-class families. “There was nothing extreme or broken about these homes,” Mr. Wang said. “These were not high-risk families.”

The study found the negative effects of harsh verbal discipline to be comparable to effects shown from physical discipline in other studies.

The results of the study did not surprise Jered Kolbert, an associate professor of education at Duquesne University.

“There is research to suggest that verbal bullying and relational aggression are actually more harmful than physical bullying,” he said.

He was surprised by the study’s finding that parental warmth did not buffer the effects of the harsh verbal discipline.

Mr. Wang suggested that rather than yelling, parents try to calm down before they discipline their children, with the goal of an open conversation where parents and children can express their concerns. He also advocated that parents reward their children for good behavior.

Mr. Kolbert, who once worked as a middle school counselor, said parents of young adolescents might have trouble transitioning from controlling the behavior of young children to disciplining older children.

“Once the child becomes an adolescent, the role shifts,” he said. “The parent becomes more of a consultant.”

He recommends that parents instill a consequence where there is a behavior problem, but hold off on the discussion of the problem until both parties can speak calmly.

“You want the child to be able to hear your thoughts and feelings,” he said. “If you are so angry, they just shut down.”



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