This is a follow-up to my last post in which I dove into the topic of mastering your emotions.
Near the end of the podcast, the host asked me a question which caught my attention and peeked my interest…
What is one thing our audience can do in the next 48 hours to get on the path to success in mastering their emotions?
The answer I came up with was..
Begin the process of emotional mastery with three doable steps:
This, however, is not a satisfactory answer and needs further explanation.
So, I continued…
- There are three steps, involving two strategic questions and an easy decision, which you can take, starting now, that will put you on the path to emotional mastery.
- None of these steps are difficult.
- All of these steps take a little bit of effort on your part.
The three steps are…
- Ask yourself this question: “What will change for the better when I learn to master my emotions as tools?”
- Take a “going to the doctor or your car mechanic” approach to your emotions and ask yourself this question: “What emotion is most problematic for me?”
- Take action: Go to the Index tab on this blog, click on that emotion, read whatever post catches your attention and begin to follow the suggestions in the post.
The steps “explained”….
Steps 1 and 2 involve asking yourself a strategically focused question.
The heart of each of these questions is an assumption which will give you important information you want to have and which engages the brain as a solution seeking machine.
As I’ve noted in other posts which talk about the power of questions, when you focus your brain on a question, it will give you an answer.
Sometimes, you ask your brain a question the answer to which you really do not want. As an example, you never want to ask yourself the question: “How could I be so (stupid, blind, weak, etc)?” because your brain will give you multiple reasons why you are so stupid, blind, or weak .
Is this really what you want to know? Probably not!
You can, however, ask your brain for information you want. So, if you made a “dumb” mistake, you might ask: “How could I have approached this situation differently so as to produce (a better outcome)?”
You see the difference?
Note: Your brain will continue to seek an answer to your question until it finds it. I have used this “technique” to problem solve in many varied situations including writing papers in grad school, working on clinical questions in my practice, answering questions on Quora, and so forth.
The “technique” involves asking yourself the question before you fall asleep and then expect an answer sometime in the future. Keep asking the question each day until you get an answer.
The assumption in Step #1 is that learning to master your emotions will bring about desired change. It is this “change” that will motivate you to pursue learning how to master your emotions as tools.
Note: It is not important at this point that you believe in this change. In fact, it is entirely possible that you do not. Phrasing the question this way, bi-passes your beliefs.
Once you ask yourself this question about the “positive changes” you can expect from mastering your emotions, you will begin to experience the answer.
A thought may occur to you along the lines of.. “I wonder if I will feel more in control of my life when I master my emotions?” or ” It really would be nice if my anger didn’t lead me to embarrass myself.”
The critical point here is that you take these thoughts seriously and not dismiss them.
Again, you are embarking on a process and, at this point, whether these outcomes will happen or not is less important than the real possibility that they might happen.
I suggest that, if it is possible, you write down these thoughts.
Two things happen when you write them down.
- It makes these thoughts real.
- You have the opportunity to review them later.
Viewing these possible outcomes as desirable, should they occur, will motivate you to continue learning how to master your emotions as strategic tools.
You probably already know the answer to this question before you ask it.
Yes, but ask it anyway as the answer to which emotion is most problematic may surprise you.
Indeed, you may think that anger is your main issue but you may not be aware of an emotion that underlies anger such as anxiety, hurt, inadequacy or sadness.
Again, accept all the answers as potentially valid and write them down. You will come back to them in Step #3.
I mentioned going to the doctor or your car mechanic” approach for Step #2. What I mean here is this….
When you take your car to the mechanic (or your body to your doctor), you are asked about “Why are you here?” (or something similar). You then must focus on the main issue of concern. While other stuff may be going on, you focus on the issue that is most troubling.
I recently went to my doctor because it was uncomfortable for me to sleep on my right side. It was this issue that I focussed on with my doctor who recommended physical therapy. The other minor aches and pains I have experienced were not brought up.
When he asked if there were any other concerns, we did have a conversation.
This critical step is the culmination of Steps #1 and #2.
This is where you educate yourself by learning about the emotion that is most problematic for you.
Once you are informed about emotions, in general, the emotional mastery cycle, and the specific emotion that is problematic for you, you have completed the beginning phases of mastering your emotions.
Now, you can move on to Step #4 which is to make a plan to master your specific emotion and follow your plan.
Keep in mind that you are learning a new habit of emotional mastery. And, like any new habit, it takes time and practice and you will make mistakes along the way.
A word about “success” and “failure”….
John Maxwell defined success as falling down Y times and getting up X times where X is a larger number that Y.
As long as you “get up” (take responsibility for your actions, forgive yourself for your mistakes, make any necessary corrections in your behavior) more times than you “fall down” (make a mistake, get “off course”, or fall short of your goals), your success in mastering your emotions is almost guaranteed.
If you continue to have difficulties with your emotions, you may have to get professional help.