Part 3 in our series on resiliency
Isn’t it interesting how easily we can go for long periods of time tucked comfortably into established roles, places and relationships, even if they are corrosive and don’t feel right? These environments—well-known to us— seem forever fixed. They provide the stimulus for habitual emotional responses and their associated behaviors. This sort of life is soaked with routine negativity—so pervasive you numb to it. You never ask the question: Is this right?
Within the deep, still waters of our inner being—if we allowed enough silence to hear and summoned the courage to listen—we would know something was off. We could then come to terms with the fact that these emotional responses, and our place in general, is askew. But we lack the skillful means to exact change, unconsciously digging deeper into the trench.
The thing is, deep change requires both a psychological AND a physiological commitment—meaning we have to get both our brains and bodies into the act of learning how to change. Our brains facilitate our thoughts (for better or worse!) while our bodies facilitate our feelings. An emotion is a feeling fused with a thought, a powerful alloy of sorts, experienced as a belief. Said another way, an emotion is a feeling that has meaning to you–you associate a belief with it. The same feeling felt by someone else may have a different meaning, and thus be experienced as a different emotion. This is interesting as a concept and exciting for the possibilities it suggests. If this is true, then we can learn to retune our emotional energy to support positive development and worldly results, just as we can change our thought energy.
Let’s consider an example. Say you experience something negative and instantly feel tightness in your chest and stomach. Then your mind collapses into a rage. The law of cause and effect has been activated. You would have to be very skilled to note whether the stimulus caused the body to feel first or the mind to think first, but ultimately it doesn’t matter because now the thoughts and feelings are merged, creating a negative emotion. In this case, that emotion is anger, and the dark magic of anger will leave you drained and untrusted.
An Unbeatable Mind approach in avoiding this emotional train wreck was described in the first two blog posts in this series. The trained person will witness the thought and feeling, interdict the engrained emotional reaction, and then skillfully direct that energy toward a new, empowering emotional response with a positively reframed thought pattern. For example, witnessing the feeling and thought of being wronged, the skilled leader interdicts the rising anger and shifts focus to look for the root emotion causing the anger. She finds injustice, and now will reframe that thought into a positive correlate to associate with the feeling. She has trained herself to redirect negative energy of this sort toward kindness. She also channels this energy into a determination to stay present and listen to the concerns of the other party. With these skills the incident doesn’t disturb her mission focus and equanimity. She is able to rapidly resolve the crisis and move on. All of this happens in real time with the training of Unbeatable Mind—specifically mindful emotional awareness, breath control and integration.
Today I would like to kick-start your mindful emotional awareness training by taking a contemplative journey to explore some emotional responses that may be holding you back. Let’s begin with four dominant negative emotions that impact your daily life. You know by now that negativity in thought and feelings will destroy performance, holding you back from personal growth. Thus, our objective here is to develop emotional awareness, coupled with resiliency. This combination will boost performance and unlock accelerated growth. Let’s do this now, and if not now, make a firm commitment to come back to it soon.
Four Emotions To Reframe
I want you to grab your journal, sit quietly and reflect upon four dominant negative emotions that impact your behavior. Do you experience bouts of fear? Anger? Jealousy? Pessimism? Take a deep breath and be brutally honest with yourself. No one’s watching but you. Now write your four down.
Got your four down? Good. Please reflect upon the following questions:
What do these emotions stop me from creating in my life?
What beliefs create these four emotions?
What would I be like and what would my life be like if I could control these emotions?
Are you getting the picture? Because now we’re getting somewhere. Recall that emotions are feelings merged with thought, so some thought or belief is causing these to be in your life. Next step: I want you to close your eyes and envision four ideal emotions that can replace those four when the same feelings arise again. For example, you can replace fear with courage, anger with joy, jealousy with acceptance, pessimism with trust. Whatever four emotions you originally chose, choose healthier emotions now. You won’t expunge the feeling. Those are natural and will continue. Rather I am asking that you change the thought-energy associated with the feeling, so it is experienced as a positive and momentum building emotion rather than the negative, destructive emotion. Now after you’ve written down your new four, answer these questions:
What benefit would it bring me and others if I acted with these emotions?
What beliefs will need to change and what new beliefs do I need to develop to own these new emotions?
What will I be like and what will my life be like when I replace my original four dominant emotions with these four ideal emotions?
Now I challenge you to work on mindful emotional awareness using these tools for the next 60 days. Every time you feel a negative emotional response arising, pause, take a breath, and recall the positive correlate you wrote down today. Bring it into your mind, visualize yourself acting out of that positive energy, and become more skillful in re-directing the original feeling toward the new thought. Do this for 60 days and you will be well on your way to that emotional black belt!
Till next time, train hard, stay safe and be emotionally resilient. Hooyah!