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Can you control your emotions to get what you want?

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ” – Maya Angelou

Photo by Callie Morgan on Unsplash

What’s the strongest emotion you’ve ever felt? Deep sorrow for the loss of a loved one? Limitless love for a child? Perhaps fear about losing love?

Emotions Are Energy

In order for any action to happen in this universe, there must be a buildup of energy that is triggered to move. From the birth or collapse of stars, to the storms that happen on our own planet, energy is behind creation, destruction, and all physical change.

Energy is also behind the emotions you feel in your body. When a thought is triggered in your mind, this thought then triggers emotion. A thought in physical form is energy traveling down a neural pathway, but what exactly is an emotion?

The Anatomy of Emotion

When thoughts arise, your brain signals your pituitary gland (also part of your brain) to release a chemical cocktail into your bloodstream that will be interpreted by your nerve cells as emotion. 

When that emotion is registered, your body will move into action in some form or another. Sometimes action is moving towards something, or getting something done. Other times action can take the form of moving away from or hiding from something, or leaving something undone.

This all happens instantaneously from the moment your senses are triggered by an outside circumstance.

A simple example of this is spotting a bruise on an apple. You see the bruise, and instantly your brain thinks a thought like “I don’t want to eat the bruise”, which triggers a chemical reaction, or emotion in your body (aversion, disgust, distaste) that creates action, like cutting the bruise out before eating the apple, eating around the bruise, or even throwing the entire apple away.

This is benign but a good example of how the machinery of thinking, feeling, and movement go hand in hand for your mind and body.


Controlling emotion

A thought and feeling about an apple is one thing, but let’s apply this to something more substantial, like a loved one diagnosed with dementia.

The moment you hear the news, energy travels lightning fast down a neural network in your brain. It has to find brain cells that can relate to the news you just heard. So if you’ve learned that dementia is horrible, is going to steal your loved one from you, is a death sentence, those are the thoughts that will manifest in an instant.

And what emotions will be attached to thoughts like that? Fear. Anxiety. Terror. Sorrow. 

And what actions will emotions like that animate in your body? Hiding. Shutting down. Trying to make yourself feel better through momentary satisfactions like binging junk food, TV, alcohol, or shopping. Getting completely caught up in a future story about how hard it will be to care for your loved one. Being distracted.

If this is what you want and how you want to show up for your loved one, then there’s nothing to change.

But if you want to show up differently, say empowered and responsibly, you have to work your way backwards, and chose different thoughts that will create different emotions that will fuel different actions. 


Get What You Want

So if emotions are the driving force behind the actions we take, the key to truly getting what you want in life is to learn how to intentionally create emotion in your body.

Now action can be achieved in spite of emotion, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to get your body to perform the actions you want if you can get some emotion generated that aligns with that action. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Define what you want. Write it down.
  2. Write down the actions you need your body to perform in order to get what you want.
  3. Write down the emotion that will most likely drive you into those actions.
  4. Finally, find the thought you need to think in order to create the emotion.

This process can be a bit confusing before you become well practiced at it. This process is based on the Self Coaching Model, created by Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School, who I trained under.

For a clear explanation of exactly how to use the Self Coaching Model, listen to this podcast episode from Brooke

For personalized help, book a free session with me.