Understanding your Emotional Command Systems


Your command systems influence the emotional connection in your relationship. For example, Kate is more of an Energy Czar and she is married to John who is more of a Jester. Often John wants to go do fun activities while Kate is worried about not getting enough sleep and staying healthy.

By teaching Kate and John about the seven emotional command systems, they were able to talk about their differences to help them understand each other better. By understanding each other better, they stopped feeling hurt when the other partner wanted to express a different command system. When I worked with this couple, I helped them become attuned to each other’s system and helped them find creative ways to build more fun and play and sensuality in their marriage.

This is applicable even in the context of friendships and work relationships. If you are not comfortable with your Commander-in-Chief system, but you get a sudden promotion and are now in charge of a large team of people, this may be very uncomfortable for you. If you are an Explorer at heart but find yourself in a job that doesn’t promote creativity, curiosity, or learning, then you may become bored and lethargic. If you are a Nest Builder and your best friend moves away you may find yourself quite lonely because you’re no longer meeting that needs for connection with your best friend.

By understanding your emotional command systems as well as the systems of your romantic partner, you can learn how to navigate the differences in a way that meets both partner’s needs. As a result, you’ll have a deeper intimate connection with each other because both of you feel understood and valued.

Recommended reading

The Relationship Cure by Dr. John Gottman
Take the quiz starting on page 101 to learn which command systems you lean on most and read suggestions on how to better meet your needs and your partner’s needs.

Affective Neuroscience by Dr. Jaak Panskepp
Provides the most up-to-date information about the brain operating systems that organize the fundamental emotional tendencies of all mammals.

The Archeology of Mind by Dr. Jaak Panskepp
Presents an affective neuroscience approach – which takes into consideration basic mental processes, brain functions, and emotional behaviors that all mammals share – to locate the neural mechanisms of emotional expression.

By Stacy Hubbard, LMFT


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