5 reasons why you should never trust you emotions.
Let me share with you the latest thinking on emotions from neuroscience research. What emotions are and what we can do to experience the ones that are useful to us to enjoy our life at ANY moment. (Check out this book on emotions that will blow your mind :) "How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain")
1. EMOTIONS ARE BRAIN SUMMARIES OF OUR INTERNAL STATE
Emotions aren’t some mystical things. Emotions do not happen without a reason. Emotions are quick summaries about our state, that our brain gives us to make us take certain actions fast - avoid, get close, get resources, rest, connect etc. The brain’s primary purpose is to manage our energy “bank account”. Information about our environment, about our health, about energy status comes in from all sensory systems, all organs and tissues. Based on that information, we get a feeling to make us take action to adjust in the most favorable for survival way. The only reason why emotions seem mysterious to us - all these processes are beyond our conscious awareness for the most part.
2. EMOTIONS ARE STORIES
The total analysis and predictions about our environment, state or health, available resource now and in the near future - it’s not precise. It’s the best prediction based on our past. So let’s say a person like that in the past made us feel threatened, and made your energy resources tank. In the present when we meet a similar person - we’ll get a similar emotion, driving us to avoid that person, because “I have a bad feeling about that”. When we have a “bad” feeling - it most probably is our past talking. Sometimes it’s useful, sometimes not so much. And we can tell a different story to create a different feeling about the person or an event to have a better experience. You might say, well this person is rude because they are having a hard day, maybe I should approach them and cheer them up - your emotion will change from negative to positive, from avoid to approach. Change the story - change the feeling. (Tony Robbins calls it framing)
3. DON’T FOLLOW EMOTIONS - QUESTION THEM
Emotions are important to pay attention to, especially the persistent ones, but very often they aren’t accurate or useful because they are based on past patterns. So, ask yourself more often, “Why do I feel about this situation like that? What story am I telling myself unconsciously? Am I physically well?”
4. DON’T CONFUSE HUNGER AND BAD MOOD
I think Steve Jobs used to do that. Before getting to business with anyone he would ask whether the person was hungry, thirsty or needed a bathroom break. Emotions are also a lot about our physical state. So next time when you are feeling anxious, angry, frustrated, impatient - make sure you aren’t hungry, thirsty or need a bathroom break. Food is indeed comforting. Blood sugar imbalances can make one feel stressed. Nutritional deficiencies can make one depressed long-term. Emotions aren’t metaphysical. They are grounded in our physical bodies and environment.
5. EMOTIONS ARE FLEETING - DON’T MAKE DECISIONS IN ANY EMOTIONAL STATE
If you want to make good long-term decisions, don’t ever make decisions excited about something or frustrated with something. Also, “sleep on it” is actually a great, neuroscience-based wisdom. In energy-deprived, in tired state - we do make short-sighted decisions because our brain knows our resources are about to finish. Always make decisions when well-rested, fed and calm. Being over-excited might cause poor decisions as well - that’s how people lose it all on a winning streak while gambling. Emotions cloud our thinking!
Once I understood these principles - emotions became irrelevant. I use them as information, not as signs of fate.
This knowledge made me feel empowered!
Why? Because I know that at any moment I can reframe ANY emotion and any situation and feel like I’m in charge and I can make any situation work in my favor. No matter how hard things feel - I can switch my focus, I can feel powerful and enjoy the ride. Isn’t that what Tony Robbins has been talking about all along?
“Change your state - Change your life.”
Who’s a fan of Tony Robbins and owning your emotions VS being controlled by them?
"Learning how to control your focus and physiology empowers you to manage your state, which enables you to feel whatever emotions you want, whenever you want.
Since your emotions impact your actions, controlling your emotional state empowers you to promote the behaviors you want to improve your life. For instance, remaining calm in a situation that would have previously made you angry enables you to make clear-headed, constructive decisions instead of reactive, potentially damaging ones."