Volume 3, Issue 1
EQUILIBRIUM THINKING: A METHOD FOR CREATING MENTAL STABILITY AND ENHANCING EMOTIONAL EQUILIBRIUM
Prateep V. Philip*
Equilibrium Thinking is a method of creative self management formulated by the author. The emoting commands ‘Be at it’ and ‘Beat it’ are derived from the first three syllables ‘be,’ ‘at,’ ‘it’ of the word, “beatitudes.”(Latin root-beattitudino means well being). In this technique of repetitive reinforcement, one gives oneself paired commands, repeatedly connecting the imperatives “be” and “beat” with opposite and relevant adjectives of anger and tension, calmness and tension and so on. This study sought to test the effectiveness of the method of “emoting commands” to achieve emotional equilibrium in times of anger and stress. Anger and stress for example impair the effective functioning of police officers; for this reason I selected this group to study the effect of equilibrium thinking in controlling the related emotions. The findings of the study are discussed in depth below:
We are living in an age of constant change in technology, in the environment, and in our values, but we are unable to change ourselves. We may be dissatisfied with our own inner environment, but we are unable to adjust our inner environment to meet the challenges of the external environment. This leads to much unnecessary stress and “burn out”. In the corporate world even young executives suffer from psychosomatic diseases that are manifested by high blood pressure, and diabetes. The lack of an effective response to change produces these symptoms and we can manage stress only by delving deep within ourselves.
Current success literature talks chiefly of the power of positive thinking but mere positive thinking does not generate sufficient power to overcome ingrained negative attitudes, habits and values. Mere positive thinking does not produce an equilibrium that comes from a habit of self realization. Mere positive thinking does not accord with the realities of human life. Equilibrium is produced when one can oppose negative values or vices with positive values and virtues. The positive are affirmed or reinforced and the negative values are denied, weakened and uprooted.
Equilibrium is a dynamic state of mind that affects spirit, mind and body, that seeks and finds congruencies between the three, and moves from a lower equilibrium to a higher one. Only when a man lives simultaneously on the spiritual, mental-emotional and physical planes, can we say he is living rather than merely surviving.
The origin of the concept
Ships have anchors and doors have hinges but the human mind that is far more powerful and dynamic has neither anchor nor hinge by which to pause, stop or move on. Equilibrium thinking relies on a central statement that is held consciously in the human mind as an anchor-cum-hinge of thought and existence. This statement acts as a kind of focusing device for the human mind. The prime statement of equilibrium thinking “BE AT IT TO BEAT IT” is unique and powerful, it cannot be replicated in any other form to convey so deep a meaning in so simple a way. It is a mission statement for the human being, to connect to what he should be and what he ought to overcome. Consciously or unconsciously every successful human being in any field has used this formula.
“Be At It” are the first three syllables in the word ”Beatitudes” –(the Latin beattitudino means well being). Be At It acts as an anchor or peg or hinge to connect the mind and emotions to positive values. Beat it stands for the diametrically opposite vice which one has to overcome in one’s nature. Life-giving and life- sustaining power flows from a combination of positive and negative “wiring”, just as electricity is produced only when positive and negative charges interact. Human nature becomes empowered. Human nature in this sense imitates the natural.
“Be at it to beat it” captures the challenge of life in monosyllables; it combines the positive and the negative. It anchors the mind in the wider sea of consciousness and the environment. It acts as a peg on which one can hang one’s value system. It is an ATM or Any Time Meditation Technique which anyone can use anywhere anytime. When the mind is kept blank or vacant, the traffic of thoughts become haphazard and random leading to loss of power, productivity and can even become disastrous.
Be At It to Beat It is a system of constant meditation – a system of gaining mastery over self in which one continuously gives simple commands to be and not to be. One makes a conscious choice of what one has to be and what one decides not to be. In “The Road Less Travelled”, Scott Peck writes that “the unceasing practice of discipline leads to mastery, the spiritually evolved person is masterful in the same sense that the adult is masterful in relation to the child. By virtue of their discipline, mastery and love, spiritually evolved people are people of extraordinary competence and, in their competence, they are called to serve the world.”
Be At It to Beat It enables one to be proactive-to bring one’s moods under the control of his long-term values and goals. It enables one to work on oneself, his psyche, his emotions, his expressions, thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. It enables one to connect within oneself and also to stay “in sync” with the environment. It enables one to correct his flaws and overcome his weaknesses. It disciplines the mind and creates a sense of well-being. It produces its own climate within.
Equilibrium thinking can be practiced in three ways: namely, auditory, kinesthetic or feeling, and visual. Auditory implies saying the commands aloud in the mind’s ear, visual implies seeing the commands in terms of pictures on the mind’s screen while kinesthetic means connecting to them with our “binary” breathing. When one inhales, to feel the positive emotion, and, with exhalation, to feel the removal of the negative. Even mere awareness of one’s breathing does much to reduce stress and cause relaxation. When respiration is connected with values, it is even more powerful. It has implications for improving physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health or well being.
The present study:
This study tested the effect of “emoting commands” employing the auditory method. For purposes of this study, I selected anger as the first manifestation of emotion.
Emoting commands is a simple system by which to internalize values. I believe that emoting commands will build up the value system of an individual and thus have a direct impact on his/her attitudes and character and enhance his/her self image. In his book, “Emotional Intelligence,” Goleman describes five components of emotional intelligence at work, namely:
(e) Social skills
His research has demonstrated that people succeeded primarily, not because of a high intelligence quotient but because of better management and control of the components listed above.
It is most difficult to control the human mind because it is like a monkey jumping from one tree to another. One of the modern ways to achieve emotional control is through emotional equilibrium; Emoting commands ensures the shift from mere positive thinking to an “equilibrium” attitude, which forms the basis for self image and performance.
‘Be at it attitude’ describes the concept of ensuring self control through emoting commands relating to thought, temperament, tongue, talent and time. ‘Beat it’ attitude refers to managing the negative aspects of one’s own self to ensure self regulation, which in turn leads to emotional control and equilibrium. Some instances of the emoting commands are given below:
Be Time Wise Beat Time Wastage
Be Persevering Beat Giving up
Be Hardworking Beat Laziness
Be Honest Beat Dishonesty
Be Kind Beat Unkindness
Be Duty Conscious Beat Irresponsibility
Be Wise Beat Folly
Be Patient Beat Impatience
Be Serene Beat Anger
Be compassionate Beat Passion
Be Forgiving Beat Unforgivingness
Be Meticulous Beat Carelessness
Be Healthy Beat Sickness
Be Improving Beat Complacency
Be Faithful Beat Unfaithfulness
Be Loving Beat Hatred
Be Hopeful Beat Despair
Be Strong Beat Weakness
I have proposed the following hypotheses by which to test the concept and thus establish its validity:
1. Emotional intelligence can be learned.
2. Negative qualities can be converted to positive through the issuance of constant commands to oneself at regular intervals to maintain emotional equilibrium.
3. Negation of negatives brings about affirmation.
4. The neurophysiological systems of the human being performs best in a sequence of affirmation (positive state of mind) followed by negation of negative (also a positive state of mind)
5. The use of emoting commands enhance emotional equilibrium.
6. As the frequency of emoting commands increases, the degree of emotional equilibrium also increases.
7. Emoting commands will increase the individual’s coping skills.
8. The practice of equilibrium thinking will have a beneficial effect on the following psychological functions.
(c) Self control
(d) Competitive spirit
(f) Self confidence
I tested this hypotheses in a prospective study of 148 female police officers, who were undergoing basic training from 1998 to 1999. The inclusion criteria were as follows:
1. Female police officers undergoing the basic one-year police training.
2. Some were married
3. They were between the age of 26 to 40 years
4. The majority were graduates (first degree holders of Humanities, Science and Commerce disciplines and selected through a competitive examination and interview for one year basic officers’ training at the Police Training College, Tamil Nadu, India)
In total, 148 trainees were given training in equilibrium thinking. They were asked to practice the paired commands “be calm, beat tension, be strong, beat weakness, be calm, beat anger” for a period of six months. Following this practice of equilibrium thinking, the trainees underwent subjective assessment using a visual analog scale, directed to the following aspects of the trainees’ life
4. Self control
5. Competitive spirit
7. Self confidence
The trainees were asked to mark their responses on the visual analog scale which measured the parameters on a ten point continuum starting from decline, unchanged to improved status. We applied two sets of the visual analog scale, one for subjective reporting before the practice of equilibrium thinking and one for reporting their perceptions of their own emotional states after the practice of equilibrium thinking. The questionnaire was anonymous and the trainees were encouraged to report the factual data. The psychiatrist Dr. Sounderrajan(with 16 years of clinical experience in psychiatry) explained to them the use of the Visual Analog Instrument and showed them how they were to indicate their true perceptions of their emotional states both before and after the practice of Equilibrium Thinking. All the trainees were assessed on the last day of their police training.
1. Calmness: 148 trainees participated in the evaluation; 68% of them reported that their calmness had improved due to the practice of equilibrium thinking; 8% reported that their subjective feeling of calmness had not altered and another 24% felt their calmness had declined following the practice
2. Motivation: 80% of the participants reported that their motivation has increased, 5% felt it was unchanged and 15% stated that their motivation declined after the exercise
3. Endurance: 93% of the trainees reported improved endurance and 5% reported no change in their endurance level whereas only 2% reported a decline in endurance
4. Self control: Self control was improved in 71% of the candidates, unchanged in 27%
5. Competitive spirit: 59% of the trainees perceived an increase in their competitive spirit, 19% felt no change and 21% reported that their competitive spirit had declined.
6. Happiness: Only 51% of the participants reported an increase in their happiness, 19% reported no change in their state of happiness and 30% reported that their happiness had declined.
7. Self confidence: Self confidence had increased in 74% of the trainees, unchanged in 13% and declined in 13%
Subjectively the trainees had felt improvement in the parameters of calmness, motivation, endurance, self control and self confidence. Competitive spirit and happiness did not improve as much as the other parameters because the paired commands they used were related more to calmness and strength. More than 20% of the participants reported a fall in calmness, competitive spirit and happiness. The emotive commands produced a significant perceived improvement in four of the eight parameters assessed. The perceived fall in some parameters may be explained by the fact that the assessment was done on the last day of training, after a fatiguing battery of curricular and outdoor tests. Thus, it may be concluded that in training equilibrium thinking will bring about a perceptible change for the better in an individual. The above findings indicate that at rock bottom it is an effective anger management tool that can be taught easily and practiced continually. Equilibrium thinking also holds enough potential to become a new meditation method that can make meditation as easy and universal as brushing one’s teeth, a management motivation module to improve productivity and effectiveness or to put it simply, a method to enhance emotional intelligence.
While the study did not employ a control group and the data were derived from subjective reporting by the participants, the findings are supported by the results of a pre-training and post training questionnaire administered to the same group and by individual case studies. For instance, one trainee who suffered from hypertension and took several medications employed the paired commands, “be calm, beat tension,” and later reported that she had no longer required antihypertensive medication.
Encouraged by these findings, we have taught the concept, technique and method of equilibrium thinking to a variety of persons and audiences ranging from hardened prisoners to corporate executives. It is now being used to train nearly 20,000 prisoners in 11 prisons (ONE prison is a control group) of Tamilnadu, India. When corporate executives learned and used the technique, it led to increase in their productivity as indicated in one company by an increased volume of sales.
Equilibrium thinking seems to answer the world-wide quest for a simple technique of enhancing the qualities of emotional stability, persistence, spiritual fulfillment and communication skills. It has all the elements of the technique described by Goleman namely, the repetitive element (because the emotional mind learns in a repetitive mode). It involves a constant inner dialogue “self talk”, a key element of self regulation. It is simple, and thereby encourages persistence in learning and reduces resistance to change. It is compatible with the binary principle on which the human subconscious mind operates, thereby tapping into latent potential of the subconscious. To sum up, the practice of equilibrium thinking will improve physical, mental emotional and spiritual health, because it exploits the spirit-mind-body connectivity. Of course, we need further study with a control group, and with standardized instruments to elucidate the effect of equilibrium thinking on neuro-transmitters in the human being.
1. Prateep V. Philip:The Power of Equilibrium Thinking – Education Monitor,1998,2 :18-20
2. Prateep V. Philip:Shifting the Paradigm from Existence to Excellence - An Unified and Holistic Theory of Existence for Individuals as for Organisations- Perspective, The Punjab Police Academy Journal, 1999: The Management in Government Journal, 2000
3. Daniel Goleman:Emotional Intelligence , 1995:3-34,35-127,188-214,228-330
If you want to contribute an article or an editorial/commentary please read the Instructions to Authors and e-mail your contribution to the editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Preferably articles should be no longer than 10 double-spaced typewritten pages.