When I heard Jim Dethmer describe “the line”, even though it was just three minutes into being interviewed on The Knowledge Project, I knew I’d be listening through to the end of the show.

The line is a very simple concept, it is the division between being open and curious or closed and defensive. And the first lesson of the line isn’t that you want to be above the line rather than below it (though that is true). Rather the first lesson is that you are always somewhere, and do you know where you are?

This message that you are always somewhere on the emotional map is a usefully subversive message, because the normal message from society is that we should be rational, and that being emotional is incompatible with being rational. This was recently driven home for me at a recent practice session where one of the participants said they “keep emotion out of the workplace,” as though that were possible.

That encounter was one of our prompts to record a podcast episode on the problem of Emotional Unawareness (SoundCloud,iTunes). At a minimum someone who is unaware of their emotional state is unaware of how their perceptions are being distorted by any of the host of cognitive distortions. And those hidden emotions can be a cause of personal suffering, as was beautifully illustrated in a recent Feeling Good podcast episode.

If you want to become more emotionally aware, what can you do? The line is a good start, however it is worth building a much richer emotional vocabulary. We discussed some ways to do so in our follow-up podcast on Growing Emotional Awareness (SoundCloud, iTunes). To learn more you can join me on March 24th 2020 when the London Organizational Learning meetup will have a practice session on working with emotions.