Core Emotional Energy: Labeling the Negativity-Positivity Spectrum (1)

Titlepic: Labeling the Negativity-Positivity Spectrum (Part 1)

Today’s article is about the concept of Core Emotional Energy (CEE), and the idea of different “levels” of CEE, correlating to different “levels” of negativity and positivity.

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In today’s blog post, which will be part of a mini-series of blog posts on this topic, I am going to talk a little about my attempts trying to narrow in on a good concept for talking about a person’s level of emotional energy, his or hers emotional state of affairs, so to speak. I have tentatively named this Core Emotional Energy (CEE).

Why Introduce Another Concept?

The first question is, perhaps, why would anyone want to do that? After all, there are so many useless terms already in psychology and philosophy that one doesn’t need to invent another one.

My answer to such an objection would be something like this. It is true that there are many terms and concepts in psychology and philosophy of mind and cognitive science that may, from a practical perspective, seem rather useless. That is, as seen from a non-academic practical perspective.

But there surely is some use for all these technical terms, both in theoretical discussions in academia, as well as in some clinical settings. So such concepts and terms may be useful to some such specialists, even though they may be useless to others outside those fields.

But I am not suggesting that my new term is for professionals, at any rate. My new term is meant primarily for ordinary people, in their everyday life. It is meant to be used as a tool for self-diagnosis. And it can also be used as a tool for diagnosing others, in everyday situations.

My Proposal

Therefore, what I am proposing here is this. First of all, this new term (“Core Emotional Energy”) is not really a concept designed to be used by professional psychologists or psychiatrists.

I do not know very much about such professionals, but I have a feeling that they are mostly interested in “operational” (or “testable”) abilities (as in operationism or operationalism). By that I mean the ability to arrive at precise scientific (“objective”) measurements of various traits (or aspects) of a person. Thus the common saying that “‘intelligence’ is whatever the psychological test of intelligence says it is”.

But “Core Emotional Energy” is (at least in my opinion) not easily measurable. In other words, it is of an elusive character. So there is little hope for any exact measurement of it.

So what I am saying here is that Core Emotional Energy (CEE) is NOT a thing that is measurable simply by using some sort of psychological questionnaire with a set of “relevant questions” or “relevant statements” that the person is going to respond or react to (as in, for example, the paper “The Positivity Scale“, p. 703: “I have great faith in the future”; “I am satisfied with my life”, etc.)

In most cases, the actual level of CEE (whether mostly negative, or mostly positive, or somewhere in between) of a person cannot be determined by him merely answering a questionnaire, especially not in writing only. (The measurement must be done rather differently.)

One reason for this is that questionnaires are often not designed properly. So even if the person answering it is answering all the questions, and is also telling the truth, it still may not really measure that which it claims to measure.

Another reason is that people lie sometimes. And even if they do not lie (as in consciously saying something other than what they really think), many people overestimate or underestimate their own state of affairs: some think too highly of themselves, while others think too little of themselves.

Yet another factor is that it is not merely about words. It’s about feelings and emotions in the whole person, all at once. So even if a person says “I’m good”, perhaps they are not, deep inside, good at all. Some people do not want to reveal very much about their true inner life. (And sometimes perhaps not even to themselves)

Another main point is that I am not envisioning this concept of CEE to be used in any clinic or academic experimental environment. So there is no need to use a questionnaire for that reason, either (even it could have delivered an accurate measure of CEE, which, I think, it cannot)

Who’s Doing the Measuring?

Is it the individual himself who is trying to assess his own emotional state of affairs? Or is it a professional psychologist or psychiatrist who is trying to assess a “patient’s” emotional whereabouts?

As I have been developing this concept, I have thought of it as a tool for the individual person to assess himself. For I think it is crucial, for any practitioner of real self-realization or self-actualization, that one can get a rough estimate of one’s own emotional state, as it currently is. If one cannot assess it, or gauge it, how can one be sure that it actually is progress? Maybe then it’s not progress, but just the opposite, compared to six weeks, or six months, earlier?

Such measurements then also help the individual to evaluate other people, whether they are into self-realization (or self-actualization), or not. This helps the individual to more clearly see how and why other people act like they do. Thus, it helps his own self-realization (or self-actualization) in the sense of (radically) lowering the “unpredictability” of other people.

For when a person can correctly assess the approximate emotional state (i.e. level of Core Emotional Energy) of another person, then that other person becomes more predictable. So it adds a kind of “aesthetic” touch to the whole picture: what was previously thought to be “an irrational behavior” of that other person, might now instead be seen as “perfectly rational”.

As for the professional psychologists and psychiatrists, they can, of course, also use this term if they want. But, in general, I think most of them are too busy with their own theories that they want to promote, to be able to adopt my scheme. And that is all well and good. We wish them all success in their own endeavors.

Why Introduce ‘Level’?

The word “level” or “range” or “zone” may sound vague. But I chose it precisely because of that. Since I have already stated that it is very hard to pinpoint an individual’s true core energy level on the negativity-positivity spectrum, it is a good thing, I think, that this fact clearly is indicated by adding the word “level”.

The word “level” thus signals that we are not talking about a particularly precise or particularly exact location in the negativity-positivity landscape, but a general area of interest. An analogy would be in meteorology: rather than trying to describe the weather just outside Waterstones bookshop on Tottenham Court Road in London, we may try to be a little more general and say “in southern England” or something like that.

Perhaps an even better analogy would be how meteorologists talk about weather. Although they do have a “scientific” approach in that they are dealing with mathematical “exact” values (such as “9 mm of rain”), a weather forecast describes the weather basically in just a handful of parameters: it’s about precipitation, heat/cold, wind, and sunshine.

But the “actionable intelligence”, in the case of the rain, is not really “9 mm of rain”; for all practical purposes, for our everyday use, all we need to know (if we, at all, really need to know it) is that it’s going to rain a little. So we’re simplifying the data so that we get a rough estimate that we can “deal with” in our everyday life. So to return to the rain, we might have a handful of descriptive quantitative phrases such as “a little”, “quite some”, “a lot” and “not at all”, each in which we are placing many different neighboring data values.

Similarly, we have to, I think, simplify the assessment of the Core Emotional Energy so that we don’t get too many “levels”. For there are, in reality, as many “levels” or “zones” of different energies as there are persons. So we need to confine ourselves to a grouping of them in broader categories.

Usage of the Phrase ‘Core Emotional Energy’

Another consideration is this: How shall we “linguistically” use the concept of “level” together with “Core Emotional Energy”? One way would be to always treat the three-word phrase “Core Emotional Energy” as the basic term (as opposed to create expanded derivatives of it). And then we can simply use “CEE” as an acronym.”

However, the situation gets a little trickier when we consider that we also have to talk about a particular level of “Core Emotional Energy”: Is a person’s level of CEE low, or high? (so I would not be saying merely “Is a person’s CEE low, or high?”, without the words “level of”.)

So then the question is: Would it then be good to speak of “Level of Core Emotional Energy”, so that we can also can use another acronym like this, “LCEE”? Or would it better to put the word “Level” at the end insted, so that we might speak of “Core Emotional Energy Level”, using “CEEL”? Or is it better NOT to have these “expanded” acronyms, at all?

At this time, I’m not sure exactly what to conclude for the future. But tentatively speaking, for now, I think I’ll stick with just using one acronym, namely “CEE”. This will give me the flexibility to adding the word level in four different ways: two without using any acronym (“level of Core Emotional Energy” and “Core Emotional Energy level”), and two with the acronym (“level of CEE”, “CEE level”).

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll go on talking about some other basic aspects of the Core Emotional Energy.

Chris Bocay

Copyright © 2023 by Chris Bocay. All rights reserved.

First published: Tue 31 Dec 2019
Last revised: Sun 21 May 2023

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