Easy access to all posts now available.

In order to make it easier for you, my readers, to access all of my previous posts, I have put together and published an index to all my posts.

Here is what you need to do…

  • You can access the index by scrolling up to the top of this page and clicking the index tap in the upper right corner.
  • This will open up to a page with the index.
  • Click on the index and you will see all of my previous posts with the month that post was printed.
  • Go to the right side of the home page where all of the posts are archived by month and click on that month.
  • This will take you to the page with the post you are seeking.
  • You may have to scroll down a bit but the post will be there.
  • Thank you for being a loyal reader.
  • Please let everyone you know who might be interested in the material I write about each week and let them know the index exists.

I will keep the index updated.

All the best,

Ed

Ed Daube, Ph.D.,  The Emotions Doctor

Jealousy and Envy: They are not the same.

Scenario #1

You and your significant other are out on a date or at an event and another person talks to, makes eye contact with, or otherwise engages your significant other and you have a very strong feeling.

Scenario #2

You observe that your friend, a co-worker, or even a stranger, owns something, has something, or even has options you don’t have and you experience a very strong feeling.

Scenario #1

In scenario #1, the issue is that you perceive a threat to your relationship with your significant other. At least two feelings are possible.

Or, some combination of both.

The goal regarding all emotions is to master them so that you can improve your life and your relationships.

Anger:

If you believe that the threat is to your view of right and wrong and the way things “should” be, or your sense of security, and you are ready to go to war to make things right, then the feeling you most likely are exclusively experiencing is anger.

Mastering Anger

I have discussed mastering anger in my book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool and in numerous posts on this blog. You can download the first two chapter of the book by scrolling up to the Welcome post.

Anger can also be experienced along with a second feeling.

Jealousy:

If you believe that your relationship with your significant other is threatened because your significant other is attracted to the person with whom they are interacting, then you most likely are experiencing jealousy. Jealousy always involves a third party and the message of jealousy is “I have something that I think you want, that I think you are coming after and that you might take from me”.

The other side of Jealousy is that your significant other may be interested in someone else because there is something wrong with you. So, along with jealousy, you might be experiencing, inadequacy, self-doubt, embarrassment, uncertainty and/or insecurity.

Mastering Jealousy

You master jealousy when you use the energy of your emotion to:

  • validate the feeling in yourself
  • understand that there may be some areas of your relationship with your significant other that you need to reexamine
  • engage in a conversation with your significant other about your feelings and their understanding of the nature of the relationship between the two of you and between them and the third party.

Scenario #2:

In scenario #2, the issue is that another person has something, or some ability, that you wish you had. There is no threat.

Envy:

The emotion you experience is envy.

The core message of envy is “I want what you have”.

Envy can be experienced as a painful emotion.  When this is the case, you have  taken the focus of your attention from the advantages enjoyed by another and focused it on yourself.

You have added feelings of inadequacy, self-contempt, shame, or inferiority. The message here is “I don’t measure up or have what he (or she) has  which means there is something wrong with me.

Mastering Envy

You master envy when you use the energy of your emotion to:

  • validate, or accept, the feeling in yourself,
  • take a comprehensive look at what it is you are envious about in that other person,
  • decide how important it is for you to emulate that person or obtain what they have,

and, if it is important,

  • make a plan to do what is required to acquire the skill, or obtain the desired item.

In this post, I have addressed the emotions of jealousy and envy.

I welcome your comments.

 

 

 

How can I control my words when I am angry?

This post is based on an answer I posted on Quora.com to this question. While the question addresses (angry) words, the same advice applies to unwanted or inappropriate (angry) actions.

In my answer to an earlier question, I noted that the message of anger is that you perceive a threat to some VITAL aspect of your life that you believe you can eliminate if you throw enough power at it.

I also noted that the body’s anger initial reaction to any perceived threat is to go on “red alert” and prepare for battle. In your case, your “angry words” are your battle plan.

As it turn out, there is a slight time delay between the message that goes to the amygdala which prepares you to react to the threat and the message to the cerebral cortex which allows you to decided what to do about the threat.

It is this time delay that you can learn to use to your advantage.

Regarding anger, most writers talk about anger management.  I believe that anger should be mastered (strategically applied to remedy the situation which elicits the anger) rather than managed as “management” implies primarily “control”.  While mastering anger does, initially, involve controlling one’s physical and psychological reactions to anger as the anger management approach teaches, anger mastery teaches you to validate the anger, assess the nature of the threat, and match your response to the level of that threat.

The angry words to which you refer are usually your first reaction to the threatening situation you perceive.  You want to defend yourself and lash out.

Anger mastery always recommends controlling this reaction as it may or may not be appropriate to the situation once you have assessed what is actually taking place.

If the best you are capable of doing for now is controlling your anger and your behavior, then “bite your tongue” (figuratively, not actually), force yourself to keep quiet or walk away.  This is better than cussing out your boss or getting yourself in trouble with friends and loved ones.

Anger mastery can be learned but it takes time.

With this in mind, there are three components to mastering your anger and the behavior you engage in when angry.

The first component involves the cerebral cortex (the thinking part of your brain)

In order to give yourself a few seconds to think about your situation and make a decision, you have to reduce your level of arousal and give yourself some space between you and the threat.

This is the basis of taking a physical step backwards, taking a deep breath, and counting to 10.

While this is easy advice to give (and it is accurate), it isn’t always easy to do in the heat of the moment.

So, it is important for you to prepare yourself to take a deep breath before you get angry.  You can do this by thinking about the situations  which “push your anger button” and imagining yourself taking a deep breath in that situation.

You can also think about where, in your body, you experience anger. Do your muscles tense up? Do you get a warm sensation somewhere, etc.

Knowing how your body alerts you to anger gives you some additional warning time.

If the above sounds strange to you, I understand.  Do the best you can.

With practice, you will be able to anticipate your anger and reduce your arousal just enough in the situation to stop yourself before you react.

The second component is to evaluate the nature of the threat.

If the threat is to a vital goal, a critical belief, to your family or your reputation, you will need to take action. But, you will learn to respond rather than react.

If the threat is to your ego, some less important aspect or your life, or is, in fact, not a threat at all, you may not have to take any action at all.

The third component involves deciding what  you will do about the threat.

Based on your evaluation of the nature of the threat, you can make a plan involving what you will do to resolve the threat.

Rarely, in the case of anger, does action have to be taken “right now”.  In the vast majority of cases, you can take a few moments, reduce your arousal (count to 100 if you have to or take a couple of deep breaths), and then choose how you will RESPOND to the situation.

In summary, to manage your anger rather than control it, remember the following”:

1. You always have some time to choose a response

2. The message of anger is that you perceive a threat you believe, on some level, that you have the ability to eliminate.

3. Think about what kinds of situations “push your anger button” and become aware of how your body alerts you to your anger.

4. Practice in your imagination, reducing your arousal in these situations.

5. Take a moment in the anger eliciting (not causing) situation to evaluate the nature of the threat.  Your first perception of the situation is not always accurate.

6. Based on your evaluation in the moment, choose how you will respond, and do what you decide.

7. Practice the above in your imagination as best you can and implement it as needed.

I welcome your comments.

What should a teenager know about emotions before entering adulthood?

There are many important lessons a teenager should learn before entering into adulthood including issues related to being responsible and accountable,  time and money management, how to interact with adults in different situations including job interviews, and so forth.  

My comments below are only directed to knowing about emotions, are not comprehensive, and are only intended to be a general overview.

The lesson: Know what your emotions are and how to use them as tools.

  • Emotions are tools, just like your cell phone, that you can learn to effectively use to your advantage. They may hurt like hell when you experience them but they are just tools.
  • Just like a computer game in which you must find a “secret” doorway to the next level, the “secret” to each emotion is the message it tells you about how you are interpreting the situation in which you find yourself. When you understand the message, you can move to the next level and master the emotion by choosing how you want to respond to the situation.
  • Know that you create all of your feelings by the thoughts you have about the situation you are in.
  • Others do not make you mad, anxious, guilty, shy, etc.
  • You are responsible for what you feel and, equally as important, for the actions you take  based on your emotions.
  • There are no negative emotions.  Some emotions hurt when you experience them but all emotions can be useful in helping you interact better with your environment.

 The message of the two most common emotions that you might have difficulty with and how to use them as tools are as follows:

Anger: The secret message of your anger is that you perceive a threat that you believe you can eliminate if I throw enough power at it. Anger prepares you for battle.

Remind yourself that just because you perceive a threat, it doesn’t mean there is a threat.  You have to think about what is going on and “analyze” the nature of the threat.

Take a deep breath and DECIDE if the threat is sufficiently important (to life, values, critical goals)  for you to take EFFECTIVE (Doing something that resolves the issue without hurting yourself or someone else.) action to eliminate the threat.

If action is needed, CHOOSE an appropriate response.

The meaning of “appropriate” is that you should choose an action that will resolve the “threat” you face without doing unnecessary harm to you or the other person.   In other words, starting a conversation, and expressing your concerns, taking assertive action or walking away are different from starting a fight. You can always defend yourself physically if you have no other choice.

Beating up your girlfriend or cussing out your boss, parent or teacher is not acceptable.

Understand that, if you are male, anger may be substituted for other feelings because anger is energizing and empowering.  If you are female, you may be criticized for expressing anger. You may choose a different way to express but do not eliminate or suppress the feeling.

Anxiety: Anxiety is a future based emotion.  The secret message of anxiety is that you believe a threat MAY exist and that it MAY do you harm.

Evaluate the threat and the possible risk.

If your anxiety is telling you that you need to take action (If I don’t study, I will fail the exam.),  use the energy of the anxiety to motivate you to take effective action.

If you decide that you can survive the threat (I may not get the job if I interview but I will be okay.)  or  (Susie may reject me if I ask her out and it will really hurt but I will be okay.), take the action in spite of the feeling, deal with the outcome, and learn a lesson about how you can improve next time.

If you decide that there is no real threat and that you have misunderstood what is going on, remind yourself to “let it go” and move on.

Always remember that you are not alone and seek an adult you feel you can trust to ask for some help.

Learning how to master your emotions is the same as learning anything else like riding a bike, playing a sport, or getting to the highest level in your computer game.  It may be hard at first but it gets easier the more you do it.

I welcome your comments.

The Anger Cycle-“CliffsNotes” style

When I attended UC Berkeley, way back in the day, if you wanted a quick overview of a book or a specific topic, you could buy the CliffsNotes version.  This would give you all the important information about the topic and would save you a bunch of time.  If you wanted or needed more indepth knowledge, you could always go to the original source material.

In my most recent Amazon best seller book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool, I discuss the Anger Mastery Cycle in detail.  You can get a PDF of the Cycle by scrolling up to the Welcome Post and downloading it.

That being said, for any reader who would like it, here is the CliffsNotes version of the Anger Cycle.

Anger starts as a perception which gives rise to a feeling which elicits a reaction which is reinforced by an explanation which becomes a response.

Anger: This is the label we put on the emotion we experience.

Perception: By evolutionary design, we subconsciously scan our surroundings for any threat.  In caveman times, this was a specific survival mechanism as all threats would kill us.  Today, the scanning is the same but the nature of the threat has changed from a survival threat to a psychological threat.

Feeling:  This refers to the “sensations” you experience.  These sensations are matched to the threat you perceive and involve your body and your thoughts. Anger energizes you and prepares you for battle.

Reaction: This is the initial action you want to take to eliminate the perceived threat. The reaction is behavioral and not necessarily well thought out.

If the threat is not valid, your reaction will be seen as excessive.

Explanation:  This is the justification you give yourself about your feeling and your behavior which reinforces both the perception of threat and the actions you want to take to eliminate that threat.

When you master your anger, you take a step back from the threat and analyze what is really going on and adjust your explanation accordingly.

Response:  This is action you finally choose to take.

If you have evaluated the nature of the threat, your response will be valid for the situation and will include only the amount of force needed to eliminate the threat.  If there is no valid threat, there will be no aggressive force.

Again, as a reminder, you can download a PDF of the complete anger mastery cycle by scrolling up to the Welcome post.  You can also download the first two chapters of both of my Amazon bestselling books in the same post.

I welcome your comments.

The Golden, Platinum and Bronze Rules: Working with Others and Dealing with Yourself.

Working with others:

All of us are familiar with the Golden Rule which says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This is an interpersonal rule from an intrapersonal perspective.

The problem with the Golden Rule is that it starts with you as the focus.  As long as everyone is the same as you, this Rule works and gives you very good guidance.

However, as  each of us is unique as an individual, the Platinum Rule teaches us to “Do unto others as they would like to be done unto.”  Steven Covey offers the same advice in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  where he says, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”  The point here is that, in effectively dealing with others, we need to understand their point of view and gauge our interactions accordingly.

This is purely an interpersonal perspective.

While the Golden Rule might work when you are dealing with people who may be just like you, deploying the Patinum Rule will probably be more effective and work in more diverse settings.

Dealing with yourself..

 

Let me ask you a question I asked my students in my Personal Growth Class..

If other people said to you the same things you say to yourself about you, how long would you tolerate it?

When I ask my students this question, the answer is always “Not very long.” And yet, we tolerate it when it comes from ourselves.

Most of us tend to be very hard on ourselves when we make mistakes or when our lives are not going the way we would like them to go.  In other words, we tend to be very unforgiving when we are criticizing ourselves, trying to correct our own behavior, or just rehashing all the errors we have made in our lives.

I would like to propose a Bronze Rule to help you deal with your own issues.

The Bronze Rule says “Do unto you as you do unto others.”

The point here is that, in general, we all tend to be our worst critics. This wouldn’t be so bad, by itself, except that when you tell yourself something, you tend to believe it without question.  You do not apply the same filters to your own self-talk that you do to the comments others make about you.

When an associate, your kids, or a friend make a mistake, you probably attempt to understand them, give them the “benefit of the doubt”, offer some reassuring comment, or attempt to be supportive in some way.  I am not saying that you avoid holding them accountable.  I am only saying the the way you deliver your message may be couched in “warm fuzzies” rather than prickly thorns.

When your self-talk is directed at you, however, it is often “no holds barred”.

So, the Bronze Rule reminds you to implement some self-compassion when you are addressing your own issues.

When you are being hyper self-critical, stop, take a breath, and ask yourself how valid the criticism is, are you being overly harsh, is there another way to look at your situation, and so forth.

I am not saying that you should let yourself off the hook, so to speak, or that you should be too easy on yourself.  I am only saying that you should give yourself the same consideration and compassion you give others when they make a mistake or mess up.

I welcome your comments.

There is no such thing as an “anger problem”.

There is no such thing as an “anger problem”.

Following a recent college class I teach in which I discuss what emotions are and how mastering them is a key element of critical thinking, a student came up to me and volunteered, “I have an anger problem.”

When I asked him to explain, he noted, “When I get angry (emphasis added), I tend to (do inappropriate things).”

The things he does, when angry, get him in trouble, ruin relationships, or result in other issues he has to apologize for, and so forth.

You might think you have an “an anger problem” or that someone you know has an “anger problem”.

As I’ve written in many different places, the statement “I (or you) have an anger problem.” seems to make sense and to convey a statement of fact.

However……

At its best, what my student said tells me little about what may be going on with him.

At its worst, his statement is misleading and, potentially, harmful.

I see TWO problematic issues with his claim that he has an “anger problem”.

First of all, there are the facts about his situation and his anger.

His statement clearly identifies  the emotion of anger as the issue that needs to be resolved.  In other words, the anger, per se, is the cause of the challenges facing my student and it is the anger that needs to be fixed.

Other then noting that he has the “problem”, my student’s statement seems to eliminate himself as an issue. It is the same as if he said, “I have a cold.”

“I have an anger problem.” does not focus any attention on himself as part of the “problem”. Nor does it acknowledge the real “problems” facing my student.

These “problems” include, but are not limited to:

  • his tendency to inappropriately react when he gets angry,
  • his tendency to perceive another person, their actions, or their words as a threat when no threat may exist,
  • his low levels of emotional intelligence, and
  • his failure to assess the nature of the threat he perceives so that he can choose an appropriate response to what is going on.

In other words, he experiences complications with others because of:

  • his thinking about the situation he faces,
  • his tendency to react rather than respond to what is going on, and
  • the actions he takes when angry.

These are the factors that are at the heart of the consequences he elicits when angry and not his anger, per se.

His statement is misleading because, my student, his thoughts, his decisions, and the actions he takes are the “problem”.

Anger is never the problem.

Secondly, there are the psychological implications.

By “blaming” the anger as the problem, my student can avoid taking responsibility for his actions.  You see a similar situation with the celebrity who abuses his significant other and says “My anger made me do it.”or “If I wasn’t angry, I would not have done it.”  While it is most likely true that he would not have done it if he weren’t angry, his anger did not force him to do what he did.

If someone says that he ate too much because he was hungry, we don’t let him off the hook for violating his diet.

We say, “You are right, you were hungry so you ate. But, it was your choice to take that extra piece of pie.”

What my student  “sees” in a given interaction is that something happens (point Alpha), he gets angry and does something he later regrets.  He concludes that he has an “anger problem (point Omega).

Here is the process of getting from Alpha to Omega…

  • Someone does something. (Alpha)
  • He interprets their actions as a threat to his goals, values, basic beliefs, or opinion about the way things should be and he believes that he is more powerful than they are.
  • His Amydala picks up the interpretation and prepares his body for war.
  • He does not evaluate the situation but react as if the threat is real.
  • He takes action to eliminate it.
  • He does not  get the result he expected.
  • He blames the anger. (Omega)

His statement is potentially harmful because it directs his attention away from himself and his need for help to learn new skill.

Here is the solution to my student’s “problem”.

Anger management classes will teach him to calm himself down and prevent himself from taking action.

This is good as far as it goes but is often ineffective because it does not alter the problematic issue which is his thinking.

In my opinion, he needs to learn to master his anger.

The Anger mastery approach teaches that we need to start by taking a breath and a physical step away from the “threat” (anger management). Then we need to engage in the V.E.M.A process.

The V in VEMA stands for validate.  We validate our anger by acknowledging that we are angry.  By itself, this makes the anger a conscious response rather than an unconscious reaction.

The E in VEMA stands for examine.  The  next step is to examine the threat and decide whether it is valid and, indeed, a threat.  Perhapts, we have misunderstood what is going on and no threat exists.  We may have to ask some questions here to gain more knowledge about the person with whom we are interacting and their motivations.

The M in VEMA stands for motivation.  Based on our examination, we can decide what action we want to take and use the energy of our anger to push us forward.  This action can involve anything from a conversation to an apology or to aggression depending on the nature and urgency of the threat.

The A in VEMA stands for taking the action we have chosen.

Once we acknowledge that our thinking and not our anger is the “cause” of our actions, we no longer have an “anger problem”.  We are then empowered to initiate the VEMA process whenever we get angry.

While this is difficult to do, it is doable with practice.

You can download the first two chapters of my recent Amazon best selling book: Beyond Anger Management Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool by scrolling up to the “Welcome” post above.

I welcome your comments.

 

Applying the Emotions as Tools Model to Business Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I discussed the Emotions as Tools Model, the concept of threat, and anxiety. In this part, I discuss anger.

Anger

Anger is a here-and-now emotion the message of which is: I am facing a threat that I believe I can overcome or eliminate if I throw enough force at it. While you can get angry about something that has already happened (the past), or about what you expect to happen (the future), you are always angry in the present concerning a threat you are motivated to do something about now.

My best selling book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool specifically addresses the emotion of anger and is available on Amazon.

You can download the first two chapters of Beyond Anger Management by scrolling up to the “Welcome” post.  There is no opt-in.

As an entrepreneur, you might get angry at:

  • suppliers who do not fulfill the terms of a contract,
  • employees who are irresponsible or fail to deal appropriately with customers,
  • your computer for not working right,
  • yourself for not doing something you “should” have done,
  • and so forth.

Now, you might rightly say that getting angry at a computer makes no sense. And, you would be right. But, I did not say your anger had to be appropriate for the situation. I only indicated that the message of anger is that you perceive a threat you believe you can eliminate if you throw enough force at it. Ever heard of someone destroying a computer?

Employees can get angry at you for a perceived injustice, angry at each other, or angry at a customer.

I know of an individual whose job is technical support. While she is technically very good and can answer any question that comes up, she does not do well with customers who “blame” her for advice they don’t like or unwanted results due to their not following the advice that was given, who direct their frustrations with the company or its policies at her, or who become “belligerent” for who knows what reason. Notice the highly subjective nature of the words in quotes. While she has not expressed her anger at the customer, she carries it with her and chronic anger can lead to physical issues for her or her leaving the company.

When an employee’s appropriate anger is either not validated or is marginalized, as is often the case for professional women, that anger can become chronic.

Customers can get angry at you or your employees for any number of reasons.

I recently had some landscaping done and the employee assigned to manage my “project” did a horrible job. I was angry at both this staff member and the company for the poor work that was done. The company was “angry” with the employee and fired him because his “failure” could have negatively impacted an otherwise very good and hard won reputation. Fortunately, the company sent out a different employee who handled my concerns and alleviated my anger.

Understanding what anger is and how to master both one’s own anger and anger directed at you could benefit you, your employees, and your customers.

The Anger Mastery Cycle visually illustrates how the process of anger works and you can download a copy of The Anger Mastery Cycle for free with no opt-in above.

When you perceive a threat (as defined in my last post) that you decide you can eliminate or, overpower, you label the emotion you experience as anger. If you are naïve about your anger, you probably will react to the threat and later regret what you did.

If you know what anger is and the message of anger, you can move into anger management and protect yourself by creating both some physical space between you and the perceived threat (taking a step back from the issue) and some psychological space and by taking a deep breath and lowering your level of arousal.

You can then move into anger mastery which involves assessing the nature of the threat and choosing how you want to respond.

If the threat is genuine, you can use the energy of the anger as motivation to make a plan and deal with the threat.

If you are still angry and the threat is not “genuine”, your anger needs to be reevaluated and there are three possibilities:

  1. The first possibility is that there is no threat and you (or they) have misunderstood what is going on. For example, you thought your provider was intentionally messing with you only to find out that the delivery was delayed by an event beyond the provider’s control.
  2. The second possibility is that the anger is being used as a secondary feeling. Anger, as an emotion, is both familiar and “comfortable” to men specifically. Anger is an energizing emotion and  elicits a feeling of being “powerful”. Because of this, anger may be substituted for another feeling such as vulnerability, embarrassment, or hurt, which is less familiar and leaves a man feeling “weak”. An employee may express anger as a cover-up and substitute for feeling “dumb” due to a poor decision.
  3. The third possibility is that anger is being used The individual isn’t really all that angry but knows that anger leads others to back off from or give in to the demands being made. Instrumental anger is deployed as a tool to bring about a desired outcome. This can happen in an office (or other) setting.

While both secondary and instrumental anger are “dishonest” anger, they still expressed as anger and must be managed and mastered.

With the above knowledge, if you are angry, you can evaluate your perceived threat and your angry reaction to it and choose how you want to respond so that you can effectively deal with the situation in which you find yourself.

With another person’s anger, you can use your knowledge about this emotion to begin to manage (help them resolve) their anger.

Three steps are involved in dealing with anger that is directed at you:

  1. First, you need to validate their right to be angry because the emotion follows from their perception of the event and they are correct in their perception until helped to see otherwise. Once you have accepted their anger, you are no longer a direct threat to them. The reason for this is that they are angry at you (or what you represent) and assume you will act in a threatening manner which they are prepared to counter. When you validate their anger (acknowledge their right to be angry not that they are right in their anger), you change the equation.
  2. Secondly, you can now assess the validity of the threat they perceive.
  3. Thirdly, once you have done this, you can choose how you want to respond to them and resolve whatever issue they have reacted to.

This is what happened with me in the example I gave above.

In parts 1 and 2 of this post, I introduced you the Emotions as Tools Model and how it can advantageously be applied to a business. I also specifically addressed the emotions of anxiety and anger.

Finally, I welcome your comments.

Applying the Emotions as Tools Model to Business Part 1

In this post, I discuss anxiety and stress as they apply to business.

If you own a business, you should find this post and part 2 (next week), very informative.  If you don’t own a business but know someone who does, please send this link to them.

If you own a business, have employees, or interact with customers, you know that dealing with emotions (or feelings as the two words are essentially the same) is an important element of what you do. Sometimes, your own feelings are problematic and at other times, it is the emotions of others (employees, customers) that demand your attention.

And, if you are like most people, while you experience feelings all the time, you do not really understand what feelings are, how they can trip you up, or what you can do to get your feelings to work for you rather than against you.

I developed the Emotions as Tools Model to demystify the topic of feelings so that:

  1. Anyone could access and understand their feelings and
  2. Anyone could learn to master rather than be controlled by his (or her) feelings.

In contrast to other approaches which tend to view emotions such as anxiety and anger as negative and which advocate controlling one’s emotions, the Emotions as Tools Model views feelings as innate tools which, like any other tool such as your TV remote, you can learn to use and master to take back control of your life and improve your relationships.

I have written two best selling books on the subject of emotions both of which are available on Amazon:

If you choose, you can download the first chapters of both books for free with no opt-in by scrolling up to the “Welcome” post above.

It is important to note that contrary to the way some feelings are portrayed or experienced, there is no such thing as a negative emotion. All emotions are adaptive.

There are at least three “arenas” in which emotions can impact a business:

  1. You: your own feelings, as a business owner, about your business, your customers, or your staff
  2. Your staff: the emotions of your employees directed at you or at your customers
  3. Your customers: the feelings of customers directed at you, your employees, or your business.

Two emotions that are likely to surface in business are anxiety and anger.

While both of these emotions alert you to a perceived threat, each has its own message and time frame. I will address anxiety in this article (Part 1) and anger in Part 2.

A threat which elicits an emotion is defined as any situation, action, event, or transaction which challenges, calls into question, or negatively impacts one’s beliefs, values, survival, finances, important goals, family, and so forth in such a way that the threat must be dealt with, eliminated, or avoided at all costs. Minor mistakes, disagreements, and unintended consequences, while inconvenient, usually are not perceived as threats.

In applying the Emotions as Tools Model in business, the goal is to master the emotion and either strategically deploy the energy of the emotion to further the pursuit of business goals or constrain and let go of the feeling if it is impairing the completion of important goals.

Anxiety

Any time you worry about whether a decision, situation or outcome will work out to your advantage or create a disaster from which you will have to recover, the emotion you are experiencing is anxiety. I have a chapter on anxiety in my book Emotions as Tools:A Self Help Guide to Controlling Your Life not Your Emotions

Anxiety is a future-based emotion the message of which is: There may be a threat facing me and that threat may “kill” me. The word “kill” is in quotes because I am not talking about physical death but about an outcome that could have serious consequences. The word “may” is in quotes to reinforce the idea that the threat, or negative outcome, about which you are concerned or worried, has not occurred and is, therefore, in the future.

Anxiety ignores the possibility that the threat might not occur at all.

Subtypes of Anxiety

There are at least two subtypes of anxiety based on how you experience the emotion, the response you make to it, and the extent to which you master the emotion or it controls you. I discuss emotional mastery below.

  1. Distress:

In this form, anxiety can be debilitating and result in your “freezing” in place and not taking any action at all regarding the perceived (possible) threat.

This is the most common form of anxiety and occurs when:

  •  you ask yourself the question, “ What if (the threat) happens and I fail?”,
  •  you assume the future (unwanted) outcome will  occur, and
  • you act as if it is a forgone conclusion, you can do nothing to prevent it and the negative consequences are inevitable.

This is the type of anxiety that most people think about, experience, and want to avoid. It is also an example of an emotion controlling you.

When you are anxious in business:

  • you might not make an important, but risky, decision,
  • you might choose not to “manage” a difficult employee, or
  • you might not correctly deal with a difficult customer.

2. Eustress:

There is a second way to conceptualize, relate to, and experience anxiety. This second type of anxiety is called Eustress.

You master anxiety as a tool when you relate to this emotion as Eustress.

Mastering an emotion involves:

  •  accepting the emotion as representing your initial perception of your situation,
  • understanding the message of the emotion regarding the nature of the perceived threat
  • assessing the validity of the message (How real is the threat?)
  • choosing an appropriate response which either dismisses the emotion or uses the energy of the emotion to counter the threat.

Anxiety, as Eustress, accepts the valid probability of the possible threat and uses the energy of the anxiety as motivation to both prepare for the future threat and minimize any unwanted consequences. When my students study for an upcoming exam, about which they are concerned, they are validating their anxiety and mastering the anxiety as a motivator to prepare for and, thereby, minimize the impact of the exam. The entrepreneur uses anxiety as motivation to plan for and develop contingencies regarding future complications. This is mastering anxiety.

3. Anticipation:

A third option is to maximize the desired impact of the upcoming event.

You might think of this as positive thinking but it is more than that.

Maximizing the impact of an upcoming concern involves asking yourself the question, “What if the (exam, negotiation, meeting) turns out well and everything works out?” When you ask yourself this question, you engage the flip side of anxiety, the emotion you experience is anticipation, and the energy that consumes you is excitement.

Positive thinking is a “Pollyanna” point of view that assumes life is rosy and everything just works out for the best. It, often, does not. Turning anxiety into anticipation uses the energy (worry) of anxiety to make and execute a realistic plan for the issue about which you are anxious and then choosing to act as if your plan will be successful. If the Plan doesn’t work out, you can change your plan.

As a business owner, you can master your own anxiety to push your business forward and you can use your knowledge of anxiety to help your employees master their anxiety when it involves changes in policy or procedures, new responsibilities, dealing with difficult clients, seeking new business and so forth. Knowing that anxiety is a future based emotion which focuses on a perceived threat, you can anticipate the anxiety and allay that threat with information, training, calculated roll outs of new programs and so forth.

I welcome your comments and if you would like me to address these issues as a speaker in your business, my email is TheEmotionsDoctor@gmail.com

In Part 2, I will discuss anger.