As humans we are emotional beings, we feel emotions all the time. I view my emotions like GPS, a guide. Excitement, joy, fun, satisfaction – full steam ahead. Frustration, stress, nervousness, boredom, anger – pay attention. (The word ‘pain’ can be viewed as an acronym – Pay Attention Inward Now!)
When you think about it, we set goals, make plans, have targets, foster dreams and desired results for the sole aim of feeling better, to feel more positive emotions – happiness, love, joy, confidence, secure, a sense of achievement and so on. But rather than having enhanced positive emotions as the bi-product of success, why not bring them centre stage and make ‘feeling good’ our daily guiding principle.Rather than a bi-product of success, make ‘feeling good’ your daily guiding principle. Click To Tweet
In recent months, I’ve shifted my focus to making ‘feeling good’ my number one priority. (I used this principle to organise may dream wedding back in June.) However, like most people, I operate from a place that I want to do better, so I can feel better. This is true in work, where perhaps we hunger for the next nugget of wisdom we can apply to achieve better results. Or in personal life, where we seek a new strategy to get more money, attention or understanding from others. We see the more or better ‘doing,’ as the route to feeling or ‘being’ better. But here’s the alternative approach I’m practicing.
Anyone who has worked in customer service knows that when dealing with upset clients that we have to allow them to vent their emotion before we can deal with a situation logically. The same rationale applies internally. Decision and actions made from a place of frustration or stress are rarely effective and often counter-productive. We have to deal with our negative emotions ourselves first, before we can see a situation rationally.
In a 2014 study published in Frontiers in Psychology researchers tested how subjects performed a problem-solving task depending on their emotions. They found that participants in a negative mood performed worse than those in a positive mood, but both groups were outperformed by those in a neutral (not emotionally invested) mood. An interested finding for those of us who perhaps care too much and therefore have a tendency to take things personally.
Imagine your emotions on a vertical line split in two. Below the line, we have emotions that we could label negative, with perhaps powerlessness and depression at the bottom. Above the line, we have the positive emotions with elation or ecstasy at the very top. Neutrality is contentment, easy going, relaxed or calm.
We cannot leap from a negative to a positive emotion without passing through neutrality or detachment, or at least a different perspective on the situation. There are two ways of doing this –conscious breathing and asking a better question.
Purposeful breathing brings our attention into the present moment, out of a busy mind that is either regurgitating memories from the past (baggage,) imagining the worst-case scenario in the future (worry,) or attempting to go inside other people’s heads and thinking about what they might be thinking about you (the negative judgement of others.) Breathing also brings us back into our bodies and in particular back into our hearts.
I’m a big fan of the two stage in-breathe, that is that two inhales. The second one fills the lower lungs and I equate it with re-Sourcing myself. Our body has the wisdom to change our breathing patterns. We will sigh when frustrated, yawn when we are tired and before a task that scares us we know to take a deep breath. There are other times when we can breathe more purposefully to control of our state. Deeper, slower breathing will enable you to rise the emotional scale, just like a cork floating in water.
I operate from a place that our natural state is one of well-being. Negative emotions are indications of cutting ourselves off from Spirit; how we have drifted from our core true selves. They also indicate the existence of fears and limiting beliefs. Viewing our emotions as an early warning signal is a prompt to adjust our focus. These questions will always help.
There is a learning opportunity, a gift of wisdom to found in all challenges. Trying to see every challenge as an opportunity (for at minimum, personal growth) widens our perspective and is a sure route to balance out our emotions.
If we are seeking new answers, new solutions to old issues, it usually means asking a new question. The brain is a question and answer mechanism so when we ask a better question we will get a better answer. But we will only have the inclination to ask ourselves (or others) more empowering questions when we are feeling more neutral about the situation.
As social beings, too often our emotional state will be determined by what we witness around us and we will be influenced by other people’s attitudes and behaviours. As I often say in workshops, most people operate from a place where we are seeking others to adjust their attitude or behaviour so we can feel better. This is a definition of disempowerment.
‘Feeling good’ is an inside job. We know it is no one else’s job to make us feel happy. We start by making the decision to take ownership of our emotions and to practice pulling ourselves up the emotional scale. When we take a breath, reach for a better thought by asking a better question, we will change our focus and by changing our focus we change our feeling.
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