Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Distortion: Disentangling from Emotional Plight

In this entry, I write about emotional distortion: expressing one emotion, when another emotion would more spontaneous and more true to the situation.

You may have noticed that the world is more than a little insane. The inauthenticity of people and the substitution of one emotion for another (such as the anger of aggression substituting for the sorrow of low self-esteem) make for most of fiction, drama, and The News. Emotional distortion makes people seem irrational and unreasonable; it makes interpersonal relationships, unworkable -- or at least, difficult.

Emotional distortion is extremely common and more difficult behavior to correct than the other two forms of emotional inauthenticity, suppression and repression. Suppression and repression get handled when emotional distortion gets handled.

Emotions have their function, including negative emotions. The problem isn't their occurring, but their persistence after the occasion that provoked them is over, so that they flavor life on a continual basis. The common word for that is, "unhappiness."

Human Negative Emotions

Human negative emotions (emotions of wanting to negate, avoid, or change an experience) fall into three categories:
  1. anger
  2. sorrow
  3. fear
Other emotions form with combinations of two or more of the basic emotions in different proportions of intensity. For example, jealousy is the combination of all three. Ever been jealous? You felt fear, anger, and sorrow amalgamated together.

In the perverse state of our times and culture, emotions are commonly suppressed, repressed, and distorted. Suppressing an emotion involves not allowing it to rise; it's felt to be unacceptable or dangerous. Repressing an emotion involves pushing it down once it has arisen. Distorting an emotion involves changing its expression. It's phoniness.


Emotional distortion involves changing or substituting an unacceptable or dangerous emotion with one that is more acceptable (to oneself or others) or that is safer to express. The reasons for acceptability and safety trace back to emotional conditioning (memory) imposed at some time of vulnerability, commonly childhood, but also a period of crisis or threat, in life.

See, The Anatomy of Socially-Entrenched Cruelty.

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Common Examples: 

Distorting Anger into Sorrow

When ones own anger is unacceptable or dangerous to oneself, as when, in childhood, ones anger triggered dire consequences -- or we expected dire consequences --  the two remaining options for expressing emotional intensity are sorrow and fear.

I don't mean to suggest that someone makes a conscious choice, "I feel angry, so I'll express sorrow; it's safer." No, the distortion is automatic, shaped by conditioning into the safest-feeling expression, in the moment.  Once a habit of distorting an emotion has formed, it tends to persist throughout life as a learned "strategy" (personality trait) and that strategy operates on automatic. But it's not natural; it's learned.

The common name for distorting anger into sorrow is, "depression".

Self-pity is another variation of "anger into sorrow": anger at another converted to feeling sorry for oneself. Familiar?

The world is full of medication- and substance-taking depressives. There's rightfully a lot to be angry about. Just listen to the news. Crime and domestic violence are expressions of emotional distortion. The "drug problem" is a sign of emotional distortion of anger resulting from bad social and economic conditions; drug use is commonly a form of self-anaesthesia (self-medication). Drug laws just miss and suppress the real problem in service to social forces that refuse to correct social problems -- usually because it would cost someone money.

The anger isn't the emotional dysfunction; it's the suppression, repression, and distortion of anger that is the emotional dysfunction.

Distorting Anger into Fear

The main motive for distorting anger into fear is fear of the consequence of expressing anger (e.g., at a superior or power figure); one is afraid that the other party will get angrier than one is, oneself, and that the consequence to oneself will be worse, yet, than the situation that provoked anger.

Anger then becomes fear.

A rebound-effect commonly comes from "anger into fear": "fear into anger" -- when one feels that one has the upper hand, as after one has grown from childhood into adulthood -- and in certain circumstances, as in crime, domestic violence, politics and business.

The enacting of more and more laws (a sign of more and more crime), more and more litigation, attest to the "anger into fear" rebound effect. Thus, "the sins of the fathers are passed down to the third and fourth generation."

Fear of Sorrow

There are possible consequences of provoking sorrow in another, from that person or from someone else who finds out. Those possible consequences may provoke fear in oneself. "Wait until your father comes home."

Similarly, one may use ones own sorrow to "guilt trip" someone else into fear. Such sorrow may be tinged with anger. It's one root of intimidation.

"Safe" Expression of Anger

One of the more "sophisticated" forms of emotional distortion is to convert an emotion into words, as in, "I am feeling very angry, right now".

While the strategy may open a channel of communication with the other involved party and bring the cognitive mind into play, diminishing the intensity of anger -- and there may be some benefit to that -- the strategy runs the risk of emotional distortion; in imposing the thinking mind upon the emotional nature, it may substitute the thinking altogether for emotion. It doesn't get at the conditioning underlying emotional distortion and emotional plight, or correct it. The term, "being in your head", applies.

Now you get the idea, about emotional distortion.

Correcting Emotional Distortion

What's the remedy? Just blast out and dump emotional reactions onto others?

It's been tried. Doesn't work. You may have noticed.

The real remedy consists of two steps:
  1. Reverse the emotional distortion to an authentic emotional experience.
  2. Awaken and balance all of the emotions.

Reversing Emotional Distortion | Getting Your Emotions Straight

As I've said, emotional distortion is shaped by conditioning as an automatic, hidden influence. If we were free to express ourselves a certain way (consciously and voluntarily, not sub-consciously automatically), we would not be experiencing a sense of plight (being trapped by trouble). A sense of plight is a sign that we are off the mark, emotionally. If we were "on the mark", instead of "plight", we would experience, "purpose". Plight is a sensation of self-defeat -- and all emotional distortion is exactly a form of self-defeat.

Awaken to and Balance the Emotions

"Awaken", as I mean it, doesn't just mean, "arouse" or "trigger". It also means, be able to observe, in oneself -- to make conscious and voluntary, not just habitual and automatic.

With habits of suppression, repression, and distortion, we are awake to, and permit, some emotions and keep others buried. We are dim-witted about some emotions and lack a healthy range of intensity and variety of emotional responsiveness; we may have a bad temper (bad temperament).

We sometimes can't tell what our authentic emotional state is, at any moment -- not necessarily because we don't feel emotion, but because we feel the substituted one. Actions based on substituted-emotion miss the mark of both honesty and relevance, and the results are unsatisfactory.

How can we reverse emotional distortion when we don't recognize our emotional experience as a distortion of some different, authentic emotion?

That burning question is the concern of nearly all psychology and psychotherapy.

I am about to offer an answer.

Before I do, I'll add to the description of the possibilities for emotional distortion.

There are public vs. private responses:
  • public fear, private anger (pipsqueak, doormat)
  • public sorrow, private anger (social victim, wronged intimate partner)
  • public anger, private fear (self-righteously defensive perpetrator, also concerned parent)
and others.

For purposes of illustration, that sufficiently completes our rogue's gallery of emotional distortion to present a solution.

A Solution

As I've said, two steps are involved. Those two steps involve two psycho-active TetraSeed transformation procedures: The Crystal Crown Procedure and The Middle-Way Memory Matrix Ritual.

These procedures work at the underpinnings of emotional distortion independently of the particulars of situations.

The Crystal Crown Procedure

What gets awakened in The Crystal Crown Procedure is conscious awareness of the four aspects of every experience:


We have no experience of anything -- and no ability to interact with anything -- without all four of those four aspects operating. However, one or more of those four aspects may be suppressed, repressed,  or "unripened" (immature) with regard to any particular issue of life -- a state of imbalance exists, and so we have distorted and partial perception. 

In this case, the issue under discussion is emotional balance.

When a state of emotional imbalance exists, a person's freedom of self-expression and emotional intelligence are diminished or crippled. They're not playing with a "full deck"; "some cards are missing from some of their suits."

The Crystal Crown Procedure awakens emotional balance by awakening and balancing the four aspects, again --


The Middle Way Memory-Matrix Ritual, when applied when working with the emotions, develops emotional intelligence and freedom.

The Middle-Way Memory-Matrix Ritual

The Middle-Way Memory-Matrix Ritual involves pitting pairs of counterparts against each other. The contrast that results awakens insight and spontaneous self-corrections (plural).

There are two basic sets of counterparts:
  1. two selected items
  2. intending and refusing
In working with emotions, the two selected items will be pairs of emotions:
  • anger and sorrow
  • sorrow and fear
  • anger and fear
I think that intending and refusing are sufficiently obvious sets of counterparts that you need no explanation of them, other than how to apply the TetraSeed transformation procedures to emotional states.

Begin by doing a Crystal Crown Procedure on each of the three basic emotions. The Crystal Crown procedure is here.

Then, do The Middle-Way Memory-Matrix Ritual on the three emotional pairings noted above. That means, do The Memory-Matrix Ritual three times. If you don't get it all done in one pass, you may repeat the procedure until nothing more surfaces. You may also do the procedure whenever you are in the grip of a strongly emotional situation to bring yourself into better emotional balance.

You are likely to make many discoveries about the emotional conditioning that has been running your life and to experience its rebalancing and dissolution. Those discoveries are likely to make sense of your life, as it has gone, so far; they may involve memories of times when you abandoned emotional integrity (under stress) and so entered a state of plight. The good news is that these self-discoveries occur after the self-corrections have already occurred. By the time you see them, they're no longer running the show.

However, you may experience what I call, "burn-off", in the days that follow, in which you witness a resurgence of emotional experiences on their way out. Burn-off may be uncomfortable, particularly with the enhanced intelligence and self-awareness these procedures awaken -- but it's temporary, self-resolving, and doesn't require you to do anything about them. The Tongue Mudra helps speed things along -- but you may just have to weather the process.

Then, you'll experience a shift in how you spontaneously handle life in more satisfactory ways. With practice, shifts accumulate. You'll feel more balanced and free and people will notice. Some may like it and some may feel uncomfortable with it.

At that point, you will likely start to weigh the benefits of growing emotional intelligence and freedom against the benefits of keeping your social life as it has been. You'll decide whether and how much to do TetraSeed Transformation procedures, in your own best interest.

The Gold Key Release

copyright 2017 Lawrence Gold

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