How To Master Your Emotional Intelligence Chapter 2 – How Emotions Affect The Brain

How To Master Your Emotional Intelligence Chapter 2 – How Emotions Affect The Brain

How To Master Your Emotional Intelligence Chapter 2 – How Emotions Affect The Brain

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We all need our emotions for thinking, problem solving, and focused attention. We are neurobiologically wired, and to learn anything, our minds must be focused and our emotions must be in balance. Emotional regulation is necessary for us to remember, recall, transfer and connect new information to what we already know. When a constant stream of negative emotions takes over our frontal lobes, the architecture of our brain changes and we enter a state of heightened stress response where fear, anger, anxiety, frustration and sadness take control of our thinking, logical brain.
The 2015 film Inside Out is an extraordinary and accurate portrayal of our five core emotions. These primary emotions are joy, sadness, fear, anger and disgust. The film shows how we use these emotions during difficult and happy experiences and how much we need the negative emotions as much as the positive ones.

After looking at the scientific underpinnings of Inside Out, I developed research-based strategies, questions, and assessment ideas that align with some scenes in the film. In this paper, we will explore four categories that represent the conceptual and developing brains of all children and adolescents. There is no recipe for successfully implementing these strategies. Each depends on the grade level, teacher preparation time, instructional time, and most importantly, the enthusiasm with which we introduce these concepts to our students.

Neuroplasticity and Feelings. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire itself. This involves strengthening connections between neurons that are trained and used, while weakening connections between cellular pathways that are not used or recalled. The rewiring of our brain circuits is experience-dependent – we can change the synapses or connections that fire by changing a perception or behavior.

Neuroplasticity means that we reshape or reevaluate an experience, event, or relationship in such a way that we observe and experience a different outcome. What we perceive and expect is what we get! The brain sees and responds to perception, not reality. Negative lingering brain states can become neural features hardwired into our circuits. Neuroplasticity is the best news in neuroscience in recent years.
The processes that underpin emotional intelligence are being addressed in the growing field of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB). The theory underlying IPNB provides a picture of human mental development and the transformative potential that exists in changing how we think and process emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. The concept of emotional intelligence is linked to IPNB and the development of mindfulness as a strategy for healthy integration of emotional, psychological, physiological, and cognitive functioning.

In the movie Inside Out, we are introduced to core memories. We all create new memories all the time, but what makes them core or meaningful are the emotions we associate with these past events, experiences, and relationships. Emotions drive our attention and perception. We form positive and negative central memories based on the emotional intensity we have associated with the event or experience.

The film introduces us to the emotions that mix in the brain of 11-year-old Riley. Her joyful memories are represented by golden orbs. At the beginning of the film, Riley’s sadness interferes with these golden orbs of joyful memories. When a core golden memory is touched by sadness, the gold fades to a deep blue and the joy becomes frustrated. Later, through Riley’s various experiences, we learn that the blues and golds representing sadness and joy can work well together and contrast nicely to create a lasting core memory. These core memories are stored “long term” and eventually become part of our personality islands or what I call the islands of self.
The following questions are designed to stimulate your creativity and thought processes as you integrate themes and standards into morning meetings, afternoon circles, and teaching material – as you embrace the power of feelings and realize how much they influence learning, relationships, and behavior.

Questions for educators
1. What kinds of core memories might you create in your classrooms and buildings with students and teachers? These memories could be emotional, academic, or social in nature, reflecting a new relationship, a new way of doing a task, or a shared project with others.

2. How can we create pivotal memories that stimulate, arouse curiosity, and bring joy to our students?

3. Teach students about their neuroanatomy?

4. Do students understand the negative role stress plays in cognitive function related to learning, memorization, and retrieval of information?

5. How might we begin a lesson or day with an emotional check-in? What is the weather like in your brain? Could we use laminated note cards with the primary emotions for younger students and the primary and secondary emotions for older students? Students could show the emotion they are feeling at the beginning of the lesson and note how it changes throughout the day.

Questions for students
These questions were designed to encourage student discussion, self-reflection, and self-awareness. Research by Dr. Dan Seigel states, “What can be shared is tolerable.”
The sadness in the movie helped Joy, and your own sadness can help you.
1. How do you deal with your sadness?
2. Can you use your sadness to feel better? How?
3. What would happen if we never felt sadness? Is it sometimes good to keep sadness in a circle so it does not spread and get out of control? And why?
Fear and anger can protect and motivate us.
4. When have you needed fear in your life?
5. How has fear helped you?
6. What is the perfect amount of fear?
7. What happens to our thinking and problem solving when we hold too much fear or sadness?
8. How does anger make itself felt in your brain?
9. has anger ever helped you?
10. how do you usually deal with your anger?
11. How has feeling disgusted helped you?
12. how has expressing disgust hurt your relationships or experiences?
13. does joy always play the main role in our brain?
14. what happened when joy and sadness left the headquarters?
15.How do we see joy in your brain?
16. what makes joy take over your brain?
17.What would life be like if we had no feelings?
18.Describe two positive changes in our lives if we had no feelings.
19.Describe two negative changes that could occur in a life without feelings.

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How To Master Your Emotional Intelligence Chapter 3 – What Is Self-Awareness?

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