Each day, many of us are inclined towards times of having a ‘familiar bad feeling’, or a recurrent emotion that leads us nowhere. Taibi refers to these feelings as cover-up feelings, because they are covering up emotions we have not learned to express authentically.
Authentic emotions: When we experience a problem, we have an emotional reaction that informs us what we need to do to resolve the problem. When we express this emotion without blame attack or acting the victim, we are initiating the process of finding healthy solutions to our problems.
For example, if my partner behaves in a way I experience as disrespectful, the expected authentic emotion is for me to feel angry. I tell her from a win/win position, explaining how I feel, why I feel that way and seeking to negotiate a resolution. I am not trying to prove she was ‘in the wrong’, I am simply being open and authentic about my feelings and needs. My intention being to build our relationship and have increased trust and understanding. When we gain this understanding of each other, I return to feeling happy and our relationship grows, a true partnership in managing the relationship. However, if I do not express my authentic anger, but rather enter a cover-up emotion, my behaviour shows a distress mask, which in turn invites a mask response from my partner. We spiral deeper into distress, do not find a resolution and the relationship is harmed.
Cover-up emotions: Each time we replace an authentic emotion with a cover-up feeling we render ourselves unable to find a healthy solution to our problem and remain in distress.
For example, taking the above situation, I do not allow myself to express and even perhaps feel my anger. Rather, I put on my Drooper mask and look hurt and sad. My partner sees this and asks, “What’s wrong?” I sigh and say “Nothing.” She feels pushed away but rather than expressing her authentic feelings, redoubles her attempt to rescue me. Eventually the atmosphere becomes very tense, we neither experience getting what we want and the relationship becomes based less on trust and sharing more on distrust and rejection. Internally we are both re-enacting negative scenarios from the past, picking up negative rather than positive reinforcement and setting up the relationship to fail. This explains why when we see someone in second degree distress, feeding the psychological need can facilitate them returning to the condominium. We experience the cover-up emotion because there is something we need and tell ourselves we cannot get. In the example this could be recognition for the person, I want to know I am important to you. When I replay my old messages, and hear the message, “I am unlovable” I seek the negative rather than the positive, because this is what I expect. When you do not give me what I expect, but rather what I need, it facilitates me coming back into the here and now, rather than going with the old messages.
Often, we attract people into our lives who will unconsciously cooperate with us in exchanging these bad feelings and together we ‘help’ each other maintain negative belief systems. Remember, when we enter distress, we do not think clearly and the deeper we go into distress the less clear thinking there is. It is also why a mask invites a mask. Unconsciously these feelings help us to prove that the negative self-defeating beliefs we formed in childhood are in fact accurate. Sometimes when we enter distress we are triggered by the psychological issue and where we have not incorporated the stage learning the issue in turn leads to the ‘familiar bad feeling’ or cover up emotion.
Each time you notice entering a familiar bad feeling and retrace your steps back to authenticity you reduce the power of the feeling to reinforce the negative belief system.
Where does this begin? Cover-up emotions are learned during childhood in several ways, an impactful one being when we fail to incorporate the key learning at a developmental stage. At that time, this can lead to suppression of the authentic emotion, sometimes under pressure from our caretakers. It is also at the root of the psychological issue that may be left as unfinished business on any floor of our condominium. In this instance, we know that when living a phase where there is unfinished business of the psychological issue, then during adulthood, if life presents us with the issue, there is a strong possibility that we will enter phasing distress. Phasing distress is not related to low battery charge and therefore feeding psychological needs makes little or no impact in facilitating the person returning to their condominium.
The most common presentation of the FBF however is not during phasing, it is when we simply enter distress due to low battery charge. As cover-up emotions can also be learned in family systems, we each have the potential to have several different cover-up emotions around whatever emotion was apparently prohibited in our family of origin.
Example: In my family boys were supposed to be strong, not cry and not express emotions that could be considered weak, pathetic or unmanly, i.e. fear and sadness. Anger was permitted and almost encouraged. I learned to suppress my fear and in any scary situation I discovered if I became extremely angry I could encourage people to back off and leave me alone. In other words, I learned how to cause a shift of discomfort. If I find you scary, and then become very angry; you feel scared and I don’t have to. Shifting discomfort is not making the other person feel, even though on the surface it may look that way. It is a mutually shared unconscious deal whereby we cooperate with each other to avoid feeling the authentic feeling and at the same time to prove some unconsciously held myth.
Key point is the myth, because the myths are the glue that holds the whole destructive negative belief system together. Therefore, in PCM we encourage raising your awareness to the myths and undermining them by regularly correcting your language patterns around myths.
See below table of issues, FBF and Authentic Emotions Note, the cover-up and authentic feelings are the authors suggestions adapted from Taibi’s original thinking:
Floor Issue Cover up emotion Authentic Emotion
Thinker Loss Anger Sadness
Persister Fear Anger Fear
Harmoniser Anger Sadness melancholy Anger
Rebel Responsibility Vengeful Anger Sadness sorry
Promoter Attachment Vindictive Anger Happy attached
Imaginer Autonomy Feeling nothing Any Authentic Emotion
When am I most likely to experience the psychological issue?
Life presents us with many opportunities to face our issues and learn from them. There is no reliable way you can know when an issue will present, however what you can do is to remember the importance of feeding psychological needs. The more all your needs are met positively, the more resilient to stressors and the more able you will be to avoid entering distress. Be aware of your driver behaviours and use them as a flag. The fact that you have entered a driver warns you that unconsciously you have sensed the risk of moving into the uncomfortable FBF you will have when wearing the second-degree mask.
The driver is your first line of defence and whilst it is first degree distress, it is also a very helpful red light. Make use of it, notice the myths you are invited to believe and avoid them. Return to the condominium and maintain awareness that both yourself and the other are worthy of respect.
Note this article is intended for those who know the Process Communication Model. For more information on PCM training contact the author.
John Parr MSc, CMT (PCM), CMT (Emotional Empowerment).
John is the Managing Director of three companies dealing with human relationships in the corporate world and training people for both personal and professional development. He is the creator of a new model to train people to increase their emotional intelligence and apply it to develop relationships in the workplace. This unique material is the result of his extensive work on the topic whilst he prepared his Master’s degree dissertation. He is also a Certifying Master Trainer in the Process Communication Model. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.psdci.co.uk