Thoughts and feelings:
Your brain has about 100 billion neurons. Oddly enough, that's about how many stars there are in the Milky Way.
The average person thinks about 50,000 thoughts a day. Oddly enough, that's about how many breaths an average person takes in a day.
The left half of your brain is your conscious mind. Conscious thoughts, verbal skills and most math skills reside there. It's the home of logic. Anger is processed in the left brain, which is why anger is conscious and verbal. It's easy to say what you're angry about.
The right half of your brain is your unconscious mind. Unconscious thoughts, intuition, dreams and artisitc skills reside here. It's the home of nonlinear and systemic thinking. Sadness is processed in the right brain, which is why sadness is murky and mute. It's not so easy to say what you're sad about.
Your attention, your sense of self, is mediated in the brain stem. When you're awake, your attention is in your left brain. When you're asleep and dreaming, your attention is in your right brain.
Fear is mediated in the brain stem, before there's either conscious or unconsious thought. Fear leads to fight-or-flight in men, and to tend-and-befriend in women. Fear is experienced internally as contraction.
Joy is also mediated in the brainstem, long before conscious thought.
People have four basic feelings:
They have four secondary feelings: acceptance, surprise, disgust and anticipation.
Joy and fear combined are acceptance.
Fear and sadness combined are surprise.
Sadness and anger combined are disgust.
Anger and joy combined are anticipation.
People have eight tertiary feelings:
Joy and acceptance combined are love.
Acceptance and fear combined are submission.
Fear and surprise combined are awe.
Surprise and sadness combined are disappointment.
Sadness and disgust combined are remorse.
Disgust and anger combined are contempt.
Anger and anticipation combined are aggressiveness.
Anticipation and joy combined are optimism.
Back in 2003 on public radio I heard a talk show with a guy who'd done some research on needs. He found 16 needs: water, food, exercise, power, curiosity, independence, tranquillity, order, idealism, savings (including collections), social context, acceptance, family, status, revenge, and romance.
Children discover before the age of three how to get their needs met.
Those who discover that having control works become lions. Those who find that pleasing others is the solution become the other three types. Those in whom anger predominates may become golden retrievers, those in whom sadness is the favored emotion become beavers, and those whose habitual feeling is fear become otters.
A lion is direct. When she wants something, she goes after it. When she wants to do something, she does it. She's not devious. She's forthright, strong, a leader, and makes friends easily. She doesn't mind being told no. She likes things to be just so, and can be a workaholic. She's social and adventurous, likes to explore and see what's to be seen. She's funny almost by accident. She can get discouraged. She can be critical and criticizing, wanting others to be the perfectionist she is. The light side of the lion is that she's determined. She accomplishes wonders. The dark side of the lion is that she can be a manipulative controller. The lion's challenge is to learn to be a good listener and to play for win-win. The challenge for others in dealing with a lion is to set boundaries. The way to get along with a lion is to be direct. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz is a lion. She needs to achieve her goal, her dream. She's the one who's on her way somewhere.
A golden retriever is the life of the party. He's gregarious and social, fun to be around, witty and amusing and usually the center of attention. Although he may be a different person to be around when he's home and "off." The light side of the golden retriever is the joy he brings to others, the cheerful and entertaining approach to life. The dark side of the golden retriever is someone who demands attention, who won't share the spotlight with others. The challenge in being a golden retriever is to accept love without having to perform. The challenge for others in dealing with a golden retriever is to get them to be serious for a minute. The way to relate to a golden retriever is to play with them. The scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz is a golden retriever. He has a hard time taking things seriously, letting go of his role of entertaining the others.
A beaver will make a workaholic tired. She's always working, mostly in the service of others. She's always supportive. She's level-headed and sensible, and gets along well with everyone, though she's hard to get to know. She's strong, but self-effacing. She has a quiet sense of humor. She's the one in the kitchen washing the dishes after the party's over. She has a hard time taking care of herself, avoiding exhaustion. She can be troubled by depression. The light side of the beaver is the person who takes joy in serving others, the true helper. The dark side of the beaver is someone who collapses from exhaustion, and their challenge is to learn self-care. The challenge in dealing with them is to get them to open up and share. The way to get along with them is to work with them. The tin man in the Wizard of Oz is a beaver. He needs the heart to take care of himself.
An otter is flexible and inventive and easy-going and patient, social but not a leader. He's lazy until there's work to do and then works hard. He likes helping others. He's loyal and sensitive and generous. He tends to be self-effacing, and can be hypersensitive: lonely and melancholic. He might have a hard time asking for what he wants. He might believe that life is something to endure. The light side of the otter is the playful, inventive presence inviting you to laugh, the jester, the fool. The dark side of the otter is someone who is lonely and isolated and depressed. The challenge for otters is to learn to be outgoing and friendly, to connect. The challenge for others in dealing with an otter is to get them to stop being equivocal. The way to relate to an otter is to hang out, and to talk about their many interests. The cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz is an otter. He needs the courage to express himself.