In our intellect-driven world we’re very comfortable with the words ‘laws’ and ‘mechanics’. ‘Emotions’, less so—particularly when it’s in a sentence about laws and mechanics. Yet emotional mechanics are just as precise, just as unwavering and just as uncompromising as any law or mechanical operation.

What are emotional mechanics?

Emotional mechanics are, quite simply, the rules that govern our internal lives just as the laws of physics govern our external lives.

Emotional mechanics are, quite simply, the rules that govern our internal lives just as the laws of physics govern our external lives.

Let’s break these laws down into components. A mechanic goes into a workshop. They apply mechanical principles, using tools, to achieve predictable, repeatable outcomes. Our emotional lives are no different.

We’re all applying emotional mechanics all the time. We just don’t know it. We are far more like this marionette from the Mechanical Art & Design Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon than we realise.

1. Workshop

This is the overall environment within which the laws of emotions operate. Our current psychological programming originated with the emergence of patriarchy some 6,000 years ago.

The outcome of this is a humanity wrestling with its unconscious fears, phobias, addictions, mental health disorders and arrested development:

These and other cornerstone blogs describe the workspace in which we apply the laws of emotional mechanics. The emotional mechanic’s objective is to repair all these dysfunctions.

“Problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them.”

— Albert Einstein

Einstein’s quote shows that next-level thinking is necessary to solve them. If we could have fixed them by now, we would have. We must evolve new versions of ourselves that can solve these issues. I call this ‘evolutionary problem solving’.

2. Principles

Before a mechanic picks up a tool, they must understand the cause-and-effect principles of emotional mechanics. Mastering these principles is a key step to next-level problem solving. That’s why I call them ‘evolutionary principles’.

Here are a few key principles:

After scoping out the workshop and getting your head around a few principles, the task ahead of you may feel a little intimidating. That’s all to the good. A good mechanic is always humble.

That applies just as much to emotional mechanics. Pride comes before a fall. Humility and hubris will be your constant companions—once you’re ready to pick up tools and start work.

3. Tools

Just as the principles of emotional mechanics are evolutionary in nature, so too are the tools with which we set to work.

You’ll find a whole toolbox worth of tools in the Evolutionary Tools category on this site. Like a nuts-and-bolts mechanic, treat your tools with respect. Wipe them clean and put them away tidily after every time you use them.

I’ll keep adding emotional tools as I figure out more of the mechanics.

“Pipes everywhere”

My introduction to emotional mechanics came in New Zealand, at the largest cannery in the southern hemisphere. Back in the 1980s, the cannery sold vast quantities of tomato sauce, baked beans and tinned fruit. It knew how to price them to make a profit—but it didn’t know what they actually cost to make.

I was part of the team given the task of creating the software to figure this out.

I can remember standing on a gantry, high above the factory floor, looking down on a swirling maelstrom of people, machines, forklifts, ingredients, packaging, pallets, tin cans, electrical cables. Pipes gurgled with water, fruit syrup and tomato paste. One of the factory staff mumbled, “Pipes everywhere.”

With canned goods, the raw materials have variable properties. When you make tomato paste, every truckload of tomatoes is chemically different. They come from different farmers, different fields, different microclimates. You don’t know what you’ve made till you’ve made it. It’s called ‘process manufacturing’.

Process manufacturing

Process manufacturing from raw materials works as follows:

Unique inputs → Consistent process → Unique outputs

It turns out that this is a very good model for understanding human emotional behaviour in a structured, mechanical way—emotional mechanics.

We are all unique—our inputs and outputs—yet are all subject to consistent processes. Our inputs are our invisible programs, our psychological blueprint, our DNA. Our outputs are our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Consistent, universal human processes turn inputs into outputs. What do I mean by universal processes?

A death in the family

Let’s say a death occurs in the family. Everyone feels grief. Yet the individual makeup of each family member (inputs) will dictate their thoughts, feelings and behaviours (outputs). If a family member has inherited some unprocessed grief, they may grieve out of all proportion to the importance of the deceased.

By understanding any two of the three components—inputs, processes and outputs—the missing component can be reverse engineered. Psychological damage can be understood, accepted and released.

In this case of inherited grief, recognising that the grief is disproportionate leads to the realisation that another input is involved. A fundamental law: if the output exists, then the input that created it must also exist.

This is a hypothetical example, but it shows how the certainty that emotional mechanics are responsible for the felt experience allows useful deductions to be made. If nothing in the grieving person’s life accounts for the depth of their grief, epigenetic inheritance is a logical place to look.

“The times, they are a-changin’”

As I wrote above, the evolutionary law of the ‘survival of the fittest’ dictated that, over the course of the last few millennia, masculine power—physical strength, military, political and economic might—defined the ‘fittest’. But, as Bob Dylan sang in 1964, “The times they are a-changin’.”

The cumulative effect of several thousand years’ worth of Alpha-male, testosterone-driven military and economic conquest is a planet that’s environmentally, economically, and—above all—emotionally on its knees. Competition is killing us, regardless of our position on the wealth pyramid.

Once again, the definition of ‘the fittest’ is up for grabs. To build a sustainable world and a sustainable future we must undo the damage of the past. That involves mastering the laws of emotional mechanics, and using them to heal all the dysfunctions that bind us to our traditional but toxic worldview.

The mother wound

The dysfunctions that we’re repairing originate in one of three layers—current-life, recent ancestors or distant ancestors. (The unprocessed grief in the example above is typically inherited from a recent ancestor.)

This painstaking work eventually leads to what I call the mother wound. It’s the original emotional separation from our physical mothers, from the earth—Mother Nature—as a bountiful provider of all our needs, and from the Cosmic Mother or Great Mother—our sense of belonging to the universe.

Everything you’re dealing with is downstream from the mother wound. By the time you get to work on that, you’ll be an expert on emotional mechanics—a master mechanic.

Photo by Michael H Hallett