Have you had any personal experiences that caused you to be curious about people and your relationships with them?
When I was eighteen I took an introductory psychology class. When I didn’t understand some of the ideas being taught, I asked the professor questions. Shortly after the class began the professor summoned me to her office. She was irate that I was asking questions in class. I was offended, furious, but mostly confused. I asked her, “What am I supposed to do when I don’t understand what you are teaching?” She replied, “Your job is to take notes, memorize what I teach and then take the exam on the information I have taught you.” I protested, “But my job is to understand what I am learning. The only way I know to do this is by asking questions.”
This example of a highly educated woman being angry and behaving irrationally caused me to ask questions: Why was she angry? What causes a bright, educated person to make irrational decisions when her emotions are involved? Why do some people act unreasonably while others do not? These unseen, unknown forces in my relationship with my psychology professor controlled my life while I was a student in her class.
We all have these unknown constraints operating in our thinking, beliefs, and how we relate with others. I wanted to learn what these are. Eventually, Dr. Martin’s concept of Emotional Conditioning helped me understand what shapes our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, and gave me valuable insights on how people can create helpful relationships and avoid emotional illnesses.