He developed the “emotions as tools” metaphor to teach incarcerated young women, local law enforcement personnel, college students, and others what emotions are. Why we have them and how to master them as tools.
And you’ve got a couple of bestseller books on the subject as well. So, what tripped your trigger, for lack of a better term, to become the emotions doctor?
Dr. Ed Daube: Well, when I got out of graduate school, I had a certain language, in terms of talking about emotions. And back then, and this is in the stone age, but back in the stone age, we didn’t know a whole lot about emotions. The field was just beginning to develop. And so, my first and only job, actually, was with the California Youth Authority, now the California Department of Corrections, and I was put in a position where I had to deal with young women, all of whom had serious histories of abuse, physical, sexual, and emotional. And I couldn’t talk to these folks, I couldn’t do therapy with them, I couldn’t counsel with them, because my language was way above where they were.
So, I had to come up with a metaphor in order to explain what emotions are to them, which was the “emotions as tools” model, that they could understand, and that they could use in order to grow psychologically. I mean, everybody knows what a tool is, whether it was a hammer, or even the car you drove in. They’re all tools.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Ed Daube: And they have a specific function. When you learn what that function is and how to use it, you can now master the tool to make it work for you. Instead of, if for example, you don’t know how to use your remote, and I still call my kids over for that, but if you don’t know how to use your remote, it’s like, “This remote is controlling me, I don’t like the damn thing”, and you want to throw it across the room. Same idea with emotions, if you don’t understand them, you’ll feel like they’re controlling you, which is never the case.
David Brower: What a great analogy. How did you come up with the toolbox, for lack of a better term, to help these young women understand where you wanted to help them?
Dr. Ed Daube: I looked at the situation that they were in, and, because of …and I’m not excusing the actions that they did. So, because of their history of abuse, there was a lot of anger, which they took out on themselves, either in suicidal acts or hurting other people, there was a lot of anxiety that they had, and they didn’t know how to understand it. So I said, “Well, let’s take a look at what your emotions are”. Every emotion gives you a message. Let me kind of give your listeners a background so it makes sense in context.
David Brower: Okay.
Dr. Ed Daube: When we were cave people, lived in caves, we didn’t have sharp teeth or sharp claws. All we basically had was our brain. And so, and we didn’t have a whole lot of instincts, and there are six basic emotions. And you see them as your kids are developing, you see them in people, you see them across cultures. They’re mad, sad, glad, fear, and disgust, and surprise. So let’s take a look at mad. You’re …we’re constantly scanning our environments for threats, we are hardwired to do that. And, the …when we perceive a threat out there, and when we were living in cave people, these were survival threats, they were going to kill us. Our body went automatically into fight or flight. Happened, you don’t have to think about that.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Ed Daube: And it still happens that way today. Okay, so then as we developed, we …the brain developed, the cerebral cortex, which is the thinking part of the brain, and now we developed the ability to think about what we were perceiving. So, what tends to happen is, and you see it today, you see it in whether you go to, and I don’t want to get political here, so but you could go to Trump rallies or you can see people who are involved in pushing their cause, and so when they see, “Well, you’re threatening me because you don’t agree with me”, now they go into flight or fight.
Well, they don’t take the next step, and this is where you use your anger as a tool. Your anger as a tool says, “I perceive a threat out there that I can overcome if I throw enough power at it”, but the next step is to say, “Wait a minute, what’s the reality of the threat? Am I facing a real threat?”. If not, then you let it go. Or, as in the case of professional women, I went on LinkedIn and I put a note there saying, “When you as a professional women experience anger in a workplace, what happens to you?”. And over 2,000 women said, “Well, I get put down for it”, “I get demeaned”, “I get called names”. So, my suggestion was, okay, obviously, there’s a real threat because somebody has stolen your work or whatever it happens to be. So now, let’s use your anger as a strategic tool. Take the energy that your anger gives you, don’t express the anger directly, because you can’t do that. But you can take the energy of your anger and you can now figure out another way to achieve your goals of …dealing with that threat.
That’s using a strategic tool. And you can do the same thing with anxiety, and you can do the same thing with all the other emotions.
David Brower: Wow, that’s fascinating. I guess one of the keys to that, is to be able to just stop and catch your breath.
Dr. Ed Daube: Yes, that’s the first step. Once …
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Ed Daube: Once you … in the anger mastery cycle, once you experience yourself getting angry, however you do that physically, then the first step is to take a step back. That gives you psychological …physical distance, excuse me, between you and the threat. The next step is to take a deep breath, which calms you down, and then that gives you psychological distance. So with both of those, you can now take a look at what’s going on.
David Brower: And see what’s real or imagined, or …
Dr. Ed Daube: Exactly.
David Brower: What have you, right?
Dr. Ed Daube: I’ll give you another example. You just did a recent podcast with a Tasha M. Scott.
David Brower: Yeah.
Dr. Ed Daube: Remember that?
David Brower: I do.
Dr. Ed Daube: Well, I liked a lot of the stuff she said, but one of the things she said, and you agreed with her, was that fear was a big issue.
David Brower: Yes.
Dr. Ed Daube: Okay, well, that’s a common misunderstanding, David. It’s not fear you’re talking about, it’s anxiety. They’re two different emotions. Fear is a very black and white emotions, it’s very straightforward. It’s the feeling you feel if you step …you’re going to get into an elevator, and the guy in there, looks kind of creepy. You sense he’s kind of creepy, nothing wrong with the way he looks. That’s fear, it’s the hair on the back of the neck. Anxiety … and it’s a present based emotion.
Anxiety is a future based emotion. The message of which is, there may be a threat out there. Now, when you feel fear, get out of there, whether you think there’s an issue or not. But with anxiety now, it has multiple faces. Anxiety is as distress, which is what most of us feel, says, “There may be a threat out there, and the threat’s going to do me in”. So, therefore, I’m in really deep yogurt, and then you don’t do anything. You’re stuck in your tracks. But, the other side of anxiety, which is what my students feel when they’re facing an exam, is eustress, E-U-S-T-R-E-S-S. That’s using anxiety to say, “You know there may be a threat out there, the exam to go into, telling my wife I don’t like the dress that she just bought, or whatever”.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Ed Daube: And now it is, “Okay, I need to use the energy of that anxiety and strategically apply it to prepare myself for the possible threat”. When you use your anxiety that way, you nullify the threat because now you’re ready.
David Brower: Wow. I love that. That makes perfect sense. Eustress, right?
Dr. Ed Daube: Yes, eustress. Another way to look at it is, the opposite of anxiety is anticipation. Anxiety says, “There’s something out there I don’t like”, but anticipation says, “There’s something out there I’m really looking forward to”.
David Brower: There you go. Yeah.
Dr. Ed Daube: So now when you use your anxiety as eustress, e-u, to prepare yourself, now your anxiety turns into anticipation. It’s like, “Bring on that exam, I’m ready for it”.
David Brower: That’s fascinating. That gives me a whole new perspective that makes absolutely perfect sense. Thank you for that, because I …you’re exactly right. When I mention fear, it’s the stereotypical fear, we’re all afraid of this, we’re all afraid of that, we’re all afraid of this, we’re all afraid of that, but the eustress to turn that into anticipation, that’s … wow.
Dr. Ed Daube: Yeah, and the only reason I mention … I’m not saying people need to change their language, because when we say, “Well, I’m afraid of the exam”, okay, that’s just using language. But I want them to understand what’s behind that language because if they understand what anxiety is, now anxiety becomes a tool that they can use.
David Brower: And that makes sense. You need to, I guess you need to feel in control when you feel out of control. Is that fair?
Dr. Ed Daube: Yeah, and what most people …what most of the common literature says is, “You need to control your emotions”. And I don’t suggest people control their emotions. I don’t want them to do that. They need to control their behavior. What I want them to do is I want them to master their emotion. Because when you control your emotion, what you’re saying is, “This is something like a wild horse that I need to control, I need to take control here, otherwise it’s going to hurt me”. No, what you need to do is, you need to master that emotion just like you master and train the horse, so that now you can use the horse to get you where you want to go.
So, when you think of emotions just as tools that you learn to master, now they become something that you can use to your advantage to improve your life and your relationships. You’re not controlling them, you’re mastering them so you can control your life.
David Brower: And as you master them and become more confident in controlling your life, then you have anticipation and you have many more things to look forward to, instead of stepping away from.
Dr. Ed Daube: Yes. Yes, you have your anger now, which motivates you to take action to eliminate a threat. You have your anxiety, which motivates you to prepare for whatevers coming up. If you’re feeling guilt, the message there is, “I did something wrong, so I need to correct it”. So now it’s all these emotions, now are simply sources of information for you. And you can choose how you want to use that information.
David Brower: So when you were working with the incarcerated young ladies and young women and you started in this foreign language to them …
Dr. Ed Daube: Yep.
David Brower: And started to create your toolbox, how did you find yourself breaking down those initial barriers, where they could actually hear what you were trying to say?
Dr. Ed Daube: Well, one of the things I would say to them is, “You know what, obviously, I’m …”, and when I was dealing with women of color as well, I would say you know, “Obviously, I’m a white male and I can’t … and I’ve never been abused, so I can’t know what it is what you’re going through. But what I can do, if you will help me understand your world, then I can help you get a better, a better understanding of your world and I can help you move from where you are to where you want to be”. And the key to doing that is understanding what your emotions are, why you have them, and how you can now use them to your advantage.
David Brower: So how did you build that trust?
Dr. Ed Daube: Well, I had to prove one, that I …what I was saying made sense.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Ed Daube: I had to prove them over time by consistency that I was on their side, but that I was also a staff member. And I would explain to them that as a staff member, I have certain responsibilities, but if anything you tell me, I’ll keep confidential as long as I can and I will hold you accountable. But if I need to go to battle for you, because you’ve done something and you’re getting in trouble unnecessarily for it, then I’m going to be your advocate. And they would test that.
David Brower: You bet. I would think so.
Dr. Ed Daube: Absolutely.
David Brower: Yeah.
Dr. Ed Daube: So, once I established that I was trustworthy, that I was going to do what I said I was going to do, then we could move forward.
David Brower: Wow. That had to be an amazing feeling for both of you.
Dr. Ed Daube: Oh, it was. And I wasn’t always successful, by the way.
David Brower: Sure.
Dr. Ed Daube: But yes …
David Brower: Yeah, there’s no, I mean, it’s like baseball, if you’re hitting 400, you’re doing pretty good, right?
Dr. Ed Daube: Yeah, exactly. But that’s how I did it. And it took a lot of time.
David Brower: So, when you’re working with these incarcerated young women as one group, you’re also working with the local law enforcement personnel to be able to help them understand what those incarcerated folks are being taught, is that right?
Dr. Ed Daube: Yes. Now with local enforcement, I did conflict resolution with them for a while. They’re not now, but before. And the concept that I needed to help them understand was the idea of emotional armor because they had never heard that before. When a law enforcement officer goes out on the beat, he puts on …he or she, puts on the body armor. And they put on the body armor so it protects them from physical threat. Now, when they go out, they also put on their emotional armor. And that protects them from being overwhelmed emotionally from all the kinds of stuff they’re going to encounter on a regular basis. If they don’t have their emotional armor, it’s too easy for them to get overwhelmed. For example, I had a highway patrol officer in my personal growth class in the local university where I teach. And she was talking about going to the scene of a crime, and I won’t describe to you what she saw, but it’s pretty horrendous. If you don’t have your emotional armor, this is going to wipe you out and you’re not going to be able to do your job.
But, what happens is, and the reason why police and law enforcement officers tend to have marital problems is they go home, and they take off their armor, but they don’t take off the emotional armor. So, as soon as they walk in the door, mom wants … the kids want attention, and rightly so, the wife wants attention, and rightly so, and they’re just not ready for it. So, what I would explain to them is, take off your physical armor, but when you’re going home, maybe you take an hour to get home, but you don’t walk in that door until you’re ready to take off your emotional armor and now ready to be a dad instead of a police officer.
David Brower: That had to be a huge epiphany for some of those folks.
Dr. Ed Daube: Not everybody agreed with it, by the way.
David Brower: Why is that?
Dr. Ed Daube: Well, because if you’re a male and you see yourself as an alpha male, you’re in control.
David Brower: Right.
Dr. Ed Daube: And you don’t want to think of dealing with emotional armor and emotions, and you view them as messy anyway. So you don’t want to see it that way. But you need to get past that. And once they got past that, now it made sense and now they could use their emotions as tools.
David Brower: Wow. That’s amazing. And college students, you do the same kind of training with them, how does that work?
Dr. Ed Daube: When, and I had a personal growth class and we would talk about emotions and growing, and it would help them understand what their emotions are. Because, college students also don’t get much training here. So they have to deal with anger, and they have to deal with anxiety. And once I explained to them what anxiety was, now they could begin to use it to study for exams, to deal with their futures and what they were going to do. It was just explaining to them a concept, which they’d never heard of before. And so it worked the same way.
David Brower: Tell me about your books, you’ve got a couple of books that are in the Amazon Top 100 on this subject. Tell me about those, “Emotions as Tools: A Self Help Guide for Controlling Your Life, Not your feelings”, and “Beyond Anger Management, Master Your Anger as Strategic Tool”.
Dr. Ed Daube: The first book, “Emotions as Tools”, was written based on my experience coming out of, working with the young women, working with police officers. And I did some work with, I did some talks with Weight Watchers as well. And so I wrote about the model and I talk about the five, the six primary emotions, I talk about the mental component and the physical component. And I really break down what emotions are, as tools and how to use them.
And that did well, and then about, oh maybe six or seven years later, I started to take a look at anger. I contribute to a site called [inaudible 00:15:21].com. And a lot of folks put in questions and I answer the questions. And I realized there was a whole lot of misinformation out there about anger. And especially about anger management. You get in trouble and the court sends you anger management. And I started to talk to people and they were saying, “Yeah, you know, I went through anger management classes, but it didn’t work”. And I started to figure out why, and then I wrote my second book. When you go to anger management class, they’re telling you you need to control it, you need to relax, and yada yada. And I said, “No, it’s not working. You need to understand what anger is and how to strategically use it”. And that’s when the second book came in.
David Brower: So the first book really helps you open up …
Dr. Ed Daube: Yep.
David Brower: To all these different kinds of feelings. Then the second book zeroes in on the anger part of it. And …
Dr. Ed Daube: Yes.
David Brower: That’s fascinating. That’s absolutely fascinating. That’s got to touch a lot of people, no wonder you’re in the top 100 best seller list.
Dr. Ed Daube: Well, I’d like to think so. It’s amazing to me that I’m there because it just it happened organically. People found me and bought the book. Once I put it out in audio format, that’s what really did it for me.
David Brower: I bet. In fact, I’m a voice actor by profession, and so I do audio books from time to time and that’s … I don’t read books anymore, that’s all I do is listen to audio books, so I’m looking forward to downloading yours and take them on the road with me as they say.
Dr. Ed Daube: Well, there you go.
David Brower: Go ahead …
Dr. Ed Daube: If you like it, leave a comment.
David Brower: Always, yeah. I always do, you bet.
So, tell me, if people want to reach out to you. Do they go to theemotionsdoctor.com, or what’s the best way to do that?
Dr. Ed Daube: Yes, my blog, and I put a new entry up every Wednesday is theemotionsdoctor, T-H-E-E-M-O-T-I-O-N-S-D-O-C-T-O-R dot com. And my email, if they have questions about the interview or anything else, is firstname.lastname@example.org, again that’s T-H-E-E-M-O-T-I-O-N-S-D-O-C-T-O-R at gmail dot com. And that’s the best way to get a hold of me.
David Brower: Terrific, terrific. And, how often do people reach out to you? How does that … is it periodic, is it feast or famine?
Dr. Ed Daube: It’s really feast or famine to tell you the truth. Most of the comments that I get is when I put something up on cora.com in the anger management section. And, a lot of people will comment there, too, because I also post on LinkedIn, articles. I don’t get a whole lot of comments on my gmail, and I don’t get any on my blog, which is a surprise to me. But, it is …
David Brower: Oh, that is a surprise.
Dr. Ed Daube: It is what it is.
David Brower: Yeah.
Dr. Ed Daube: Maybe people just haven’t discovered my blog.
David Brower: Well, there you go. They haven’t gotten angry enough.
Dr. Ed Daube: That could be.
David Brower: What an informative and entertaining conversation, doc. It’s … man, I’m looking forward to listening back to this one, to be honest with you. So, thank you so much. Anything else you want to share with the public out there?
Dr. Ed Daube: Well, go to my blog and take a look and leave some comments and if you decide you have other questions, David, have me back, I’d more than welcome to do that, and would enjoy it.
David Brower: You got it, I will indeed. It’s theemotionsdoctor.com, and you can email Dr. Daube at email@example.com, correct?
Dr. Ed Daube: That’s it. Thank you very much, this has been fun.