This blog is intended to introduce the ideas of Metaphorical Iconicity. Metaphorical Iconicity is a theory about cognition and human development that provides the basis for a psychotherapeutic intervention technique. In this series of blogs, we will attempt to define emotional well-being using the terms inherent in Metaphorical Iconicity theory. Then, in subsequent blogs, we will address specific aspects of behavior, discuss their antecedents, analyze the competing emotional forces, and discuss the consequences in terms of our social and cultural expectations (as well as distortions, and how they contribute to individual unhappiness).

The term emotional well-being

The term emotional well-being is meant to identify a spectrum of human behavior that facilitates the growth and development of the human species, starting with the individual, working through the dynamics of family, and eventually manifesting at a communal or societal level. The basic assumption of emotional well-being is that there is a way to live. The way to live has been outlined for us in the biology of nature. The biology of nature is how we got here, so it offers an obvious blueprint for where we might go and how to get there.

There are many examples of emotional dysfunction which play out upon the individual, as well as at the level of the family and society. While healthy emotional functioning reflects a normal, healthy survival mechanism, our dysfunctional behaviors can also become part of our survival mechanism. The presence of functional or dysfunctional survival mechanisms reveals the biological fact that we learn from our mothers’ and fathers’ about our survival.

Although the human brain is noted for its incredible capacity to adapt to any environment, that adaptability can be corrupted by the dysfunctional models we experience in childhood: our families, our communities, the society and finally our individual experience.

Metaphorical Iconicity is a theory

Metaphorical Iconicity is a theory which helps to bring people back to a more natural framework of values and beliefs that are inherently good for children, advantageous for parents, and produce high-quality individuals who make positive contributions toward the welfare of the many, in order to perpetuate what is good, while incorporating the best interest of the individual.

Our definition of emotional well-being will be the following:

The brain is a biological computer. It processes millions upon millions of units of information instantaneously. This information comes to the brain through our sensory organs, telling us about the external environment, and through our peripheral nervous system, telling us about our internal state of being. When the internal environment and the external environment are in energetic balance or equilibrium, there is emotional well-being. If they are out of energetic balance or unequal, there is emotional dysfunction: energy is being taken away from the individual by the environment or the individual is giving too much energy away to the environment.

Is there an Answer to Emotional Suffering?

Normally, our emotional well-being is a reflection of our adequate and appropriate survival behavior. We are born to instinctively respond to inequities in the exchange of energy between ourselves and the environment. While the natural environment reflects the essence of nature, there is also the social environment which reflects the exchange of energy with other people. Such an exchange is not always equitable as one person tries to survive at the expense of another.

In principle, maintaining our emotional well-being does not cost the individual any “excess” of output or input of energy beyond what is naturally reflected in the necessity for balance. In the case of emotional dysfunction, in which the environment is often taking more energy from the individual than it should, or the individual is expending more energy on the environment than it should, emotional well-being no longer exists. If this pattern persists, it not only becomes a habitual state of being, but it is re-created every day as “the new normal” state of being.

Discussing the bigger picture

Within the context of emotional well-being, we must discuss the bigger picture, which are the sustained persistent behaviors that we call the necessity of life. It can be said that life is nothing more than a sequence of problems, which leads us through a sequence of solutions. While the uniqueness of people is often reflected by the solutions they choose for their common universal problems, there is another MI truth. Hypothetically, consider that perhaps 80% of our problem-solving solutions are not a choice, but reflect the values and beliefs that we model as a result of our observations of our parents during childhood.

From this bigger picture perspective, while certain people find themselves well adapted to their social and environmental interactions thanks to their emotional well-being, others experience a chronic maladaptation to their social and environmental interactions, due to their emotional dysfunction strategies acquired through the unconscious modeling of their parents.

Metaphorical Iconicity is a therapy model designed to intervene and relieve the suffering that results from chronic maladaptive behavior. So the obvious question for the general public is: How do people know when and whether they need help with their emotional well-being?