The Emotional Square

The Emotional Square.

I get a lot of people asking me how to deal with negative emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, envy etc. These emotions leave them feeling guilty, frustrated and exhausted. The emotions and resultant tensions are toxic to thier bodies and minds keeping them in a constant state of stress.

After a question from a friend and student about how best to manage emotions it occurred to me that it is like the ‘Fire Triangle’. In fire safety you are taught that fires can be put out by removing one of three sides of the fire triangle: Air, Heat or Fuel.

The Emotional Square is similar. It consists of four sides, but this time you add the element. The four things that a negative emotion can’t live with are: Relaxation, Good Posture, Movement and Good Breathing. If you add one or all of these, the negative emotion will quickly leave the body.

However, that’s easier said than done. You first have to be aware of the presence of the tension, bad posture, lack of movement and bad breathing. Then have the tools to correct them.

Lets start with the first one. Relaxation. Most of us are tense without even being aware of it. This is one reason that people enjoy vices so much. When you think about it they all have something in common, they relax us. There are simple tools that we teach in Systema to manage tension. They consist of movement, breathing, tension/relaxation and combinations of these. One way to find out if you are tense is to see how freely your body moves. Take your shoulders for example. can you move them individually and freely? Another method is to tense and then relax them. Once learnt and practiced these tools quickly become yours.

The second one is Posture. A commonality of negative emotions is that they bend the body out of shape. If you visualise of the stooped shape of someone who is depressed or the hunched shape of aggression, jealousy or anger. Straightening the posture will release the emotion. In good posture your head should be up, gaze straight ahead and neck relaxed. Your chest should be gently expanded with your back muscles relaxed. Your hips should be loose and free and your knees slightly bent and relaxed.

Thirdly we have Correct Breathing. Nearly everyone breathes unconsciously. That’s just as well or we would be in trouble when we sleep. However, if in your waking moments you can be more conscious of when you breathe, or more importantly when you don’t breathe, your performance, health and wellbeing will improve exponentially. As Vladimir says Breathing is the basis of everything, the fuller we can understand and use this resource the better. When affected by negative emotions you will either be not breathing at all, mouth breathing or shallow, chest breathing. You can rectify this by initially burst breathing in a relaxed way, then gradually returning yourself to long smooth breathing. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Again practice in this, with a good teacher, and regular testing of it will make the skill yours.

Finally we have Movement. Have you ever noticed that when we are emotional, and a friend says, ‘come on lets take a walk’ the emotion that was consuming us moments before starts to ease. Walking is great but almost any movement will help.

So we have the three things that fire can’t live without: Air, Heat and Fuel;
and the four things that negative emotions can’t live with: Good Posture, Good Breathing Movement and Relaxation. Adding just one of these will start to clear the emotion. Adding all four at the same time will clear you out in no time.

If you want to learn more about these tools and how to use them email me back or alternatively come along to classes. Click here for more details.

All three skills will be covered in my upcoming book ‘Living Systema’ due for release in Mid November.

My very best wishes,