We can, if we need to for some reason, label the affect we notice as either pleasant, or unpleasant.  If an
observation or evaluation arises in a mind possessed by a pleasant affect, it will naturally be optimistic
in relation to the future of the being expressing it.  Conversely, if an observation or evaluation arises in
a mind possessed by an unpleasant affect, it will naturally be a pessimistic one in relation to that same
future.  Pessimistic observations or evaluations relating to one's future do not naturally emerge from
minds possessed by a pleasant affect; likewise, optimistic observations or evaluations do not naturally
emerge from minds possessed by an unpleasant affect.  Nonetheless, the tone of one's thinking can be
changed: if we want to and decide consciously to do so, we can often shift the tone of our thinking from
pessimistic to optimistic, or vice versa.  However, unless we have acquired this as a practice pattern, the
change will require effort ; and in the interim of that happening it will require discipline and/or
inspiration, or even the leadership presence of an
authentically empathic other for such a shift to
occur.  Nonetheless the capacity to shift one's state of being from one possessed by either a pleasant or
an unpleasant affect to one in which we experience a state of being free from affect can evolve from
either the practice of a gentle self-discipline, or from an 'emptying' by meditation practices in which
the finding of freedom from affect (
equanimity in other words) can occur.  Living in and from such
states of inner freedom has been held to be very valuable from ancient times -- probably from or before
the time of Gautama Siddharta (Sakyamuni buddha), widely know in the West as '
the Buddha'.

When our minds are possessed by an affect, whether pleasant or unpleasant, we will either
need, want,
or desire to express something in relation to the affect.  We may do so verbally, or we may do so by
another means of expression, or if we have time, we may be able to prioritize the inclinations to act
entering our minds.  But until we do one or another, we will feel tension, or stress (or even distress).  
Consequently, holding our own needs, wants, or desires for expression in order to extend the empathy
of hearing another’s expression requires self-discipline, and an ability to set priorities aptly related to
genuinely urgent needs.  Are these needs our own?  Or are they anothers'?  We may able to consider the
possibility of others' needs being more urgent than our own, but sooner or later we must satisfy our
own needs, or 'pass on'.

States of being that are not subject to an affect are called equanimous states.  Such states are what some
people call 'being connected to divine energy'.  Ideas emerging from equanimous states are neither
optimistic nor pessimistic.  When they are tested by objective means, which is to say by an empirical or
scientific test, they typically are found to be
rational insights.  In short, if we are certain we have
equanimity in relation to a particular issue, we can have confidence that our verbalizations of
observations, and ideas emerging therefrom will,
if we have the language or artistic skills to
articulate/express them accurately
, manifest as rational insights or thoroughly vital or vitalizing
actions.  By contrast, the
intuitive guesses we have while in a state of either a pleasant or an unpleasant
affect will not be so vital or vitalizing:
Our conversational verbalizations usually emerge from what psychologists term an affect, which is
either a more-or-less passing emotion or a more-or-less stable (or stuck) mood:
IHXEN Partnering & Rational Decision-Making:
Ideas, Affects, and the Elusive States of Equanimity

(c) 2008-2014 by
Angus Cunningham
Principal, Authentix Coaches
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These views of the relation of observations and ideas to the affects giving rise to them, of the nature of
pleasant and unpleasant affects, and of the desirability of attaining equanimous states of being tell
have a crucial implication: When we feel the need to make a decision in circumstances involving more
than simple escape from an imminent danger, we will be wise first to seek deliberately, if we can find
it, an equanimous state.  (Of course, in immediately dangerous circumstances such as the imminence of
getting run over by a bus, our instincts serve us better.  'Personally rational' decision-making in such
circumstances is already programmed into us as an instinctive inheritance).

Traditionally, we have entered equanimous states, which are not states of being resting on inspirations
from others, by means either of meditation or of the processes of scientific analysis involving empirical
observations and leading to approving 'peer reviews' of our conclusions.  In meditation, we deliberately
take ourselves as far as possible from externals that we know from experience would, if we kept them
present in mind, impose upon us an affect.  In scientific analysis, we deliberately acquire as much
certainty as possible as to what our externals actually are or will be.  The specific methods available to
us for either meditation or scientific analysis or inspiration from figures vary.  But whichever approach
to decision-making we use -- meditation, scientific analysis, or inspiration -- we seek an intention and
course of related action or shift in current belief or assumption that will satisfy us by comparison with a
range of criteria, e.g. be either useful or personally and/or socially healthy.  And unfortunately, if we
fail to enter an equanimous state before making a decision among the options then conceivable to us as
possible, the outcome may advance only our own well-being at the expense of others or only others'
well-being at our own expense -- both of which have the consequence that we will advance neither for

I have 'X emotion' now”, where 'X emotion' is a noun or noun phrase (such as 'anger' or 'continuing
anxiety') is a form of verbal self-expression that helps us become conscious of,
but not helpless in or
hopelessly driven by
, whatever affect may be influencing our minds.  This linguistic form is known by
the acronym IHXEN (which can conveniently be pronounced
Eye-Zen).  Articulating an IHXEN
empowers us consciously to label our emotions.  UCLA scientists at the National Institute of Mental
Health have demonstrated with fMRI scans that
labeling our emotions is a source of relief from being
driven by strong ones like anger or fear or shame.  Thus utterance of an authentic IHXEN linguistic can
be a means for growing a perspective that is larger than one dominated by affects.  
Coaches and its clients have discovered that, with practice of an emotion noun vocabulary, one can use
IHXENs to shift -- step by step -- one's state of being into the 'spaces' between mildly pleasant and
mildly unpleasant affects.  In this way we can learn, without having to break off a conversation in order
to be able to meditate, to acquire an equanimous state between the two varieties of affects:

Authentix Coaches have proved this in practice with our clients.  If you click on the following link
you will find some client
testimonials to this.  You can also find a brief account (~ 5 pages) of a
coaching engagement in which one of our clients won a spectacular
pay-off from his investment in
coaching in IHXEN proficiency, in which the finding of equanimity before acting irreversibly was

We can articulate IHXENs privately or we can, of course, exchange them with another.  Because we
virtually all grow up automatically skilled in gauging the affect 'governing' our caregivers, we can
reasonably expect another to gauge whether our own honestly articulated IHXENs are accurate.  Since
few of us are fully consciously aware of our affects, having an IHXEN partner with whom one agrees to
exchange IHXENs can be very helpful in gaining IHXEN proficiency and hence, discovering quickly and
accurately, how to regain equanimity, when we need neither meditation or engagement in a rigorous
scientific or legal process are practical.  If we lack such a partner, we can resort to writing and
explaining our IHXENs, and, if we then later read our writing, it will give us feedback, albeit delayed.  
Thus, either through partnering or through journaling, we can use the IHXEN form of I-statement to
gain proficiency in knowing very accurately what our emotions are and gaining clues and/or inspiration
as to how to regain equanimity.  In this way we can both know when our states are equanimous or
otherwise and discover what in the way of meditation, scientific process or carefully conceived
experiment, will lead us to genuine equanimity.

Once 'IHXEN self-aware', one finds one rapidly gains clarity as to what one’s present needs, wants, and
desires truly are -- thus becoming free of such widespread but socially destructive habits as projection
and presumptive mind-reading .  One also can learn progressively how to reach equanimous states
when meditation is, for practical reasons, socially difficult or practically impossible.  Since an
equanimous state is the only state of being from which we can distinguish insight from intuition and
thus make truly rational decisions, being able to reach it quickly through IHXENs is a helpful skill to
add to our choice/decision/course-making repertoires.

Lastly, since IHXENS are today quite unconventional -- although executives do frequently intone "I
have concern ..." when wanting to convey empathy, the utterance of IHXENs feels unnatural initially.  I
have therefore found that my clients need preparation and practice in the articulation and exchange of
IHXENs in order to become proficient in
applying them to major decisions.

I usually provide such preparation by modeling a few honest "
I have gratitude because ...." forms of I-
, "I have concern because ....", etc., which are IHXENs representing emotions I can articulate
naturally, i.e. without any degree of difficulty that might strike my clients as lacking in
and I then proceed to prepare my client to be "OK" with my use of the word emotion in relation to
both someone not present and myself.  Then, at a time when I feel very certain that my client is having
trouble expressing authentically, I will very carefully relieve him/her from the temptation to resort
unwittingly to a flight into inaccuracy or (even fantasy!) with the following:

I have curiosity now" (which will then indeed be very true). "What emotion do you have now?".

I can then help my client to articulate what we both agree is an authentic IHXEN for the circumstance
in which he/she took off in a flight of inaccuracy/fantasy. In the process, the client will invariably get an
insight into something that has been a considerable mystery to that point.  It may be a personal insight,
i.e. one about his/her own pattern of habitual behaviour, or it may be an insight into his/her enterprise
or organizational work or career or priority relationship.  In any case it will in due course become a key
factor in recognizing the specifics of the need, want, or desire from which an affect always springs.

When each partner feels that the IHXENs exchanged are accurate, the moment is ripe to identify
specifically the needs to which the emotions 'point'.  At this stage the following table outlining a range
of possible 'articulator motives' which be used, along with other models of interpersonal rationality, to
facilitate, through the
IHYNN process, discussions that clarify real, as distinct from spurious, needs: