Do you allow your emotions to rule your life?
Are you able to identify emotions?
Try this simple test: Can you tell the difference between a happy dog and an angry dog? I bet you can – and being able to do this is vital.
What are emotions?
Darwin thought they were a very fast way of communicating (so that you can spot that angry dog very easily and know you need to run away).
As well as this, emotions perform other functions. They filter how you interpret your experiences and they modify your behavior. That’s how you know if someone is in a good or bad mood. And it’s why you know that an angry dog is much more dangerous than a happy dog.
But do your emotions control you?
Probably far more than necessary. Using them effectively is a part of Emotional Intelligence.
My daughter was not a great lover of spiders, to say the least. So when she left home I thought it was about time she learned how to deal with them.
We took a day off and went on the Friendly Spider Course at London Zoo. At the end of the
workshop, she insisted on holding “Maggie” the tarantula as a final test. Unfortunately this meant I had to do it too. That wasn’t part of my plan. However, we both came through with flying colors.
In just one afternoon we learned how to experience some very different (and much more relaxing) emotions around spiders.
You are more in control than you think you are
I was working with a client recently who told me that he was always in a bad mood when he visited his old family home. He was convinced he’d need some serious help to overcome this problem.
When we looked at the situation, he was unintentionally making it worse. What he was doing was accessing lots of unpleasant memories from his early years there.
This only served to make him even more stressed and unhappy.
I suggested he find some happy memories. At first he frowned, as though there weren’t any and I had to make a few suggestions. However, very quickly he started to tell me about some great times when he had had friends over to stay.
The more he told me about those situations, the happier he got.
A very simple tool
Once he got going, I could hardly stop him. He seemed surprised at how easy it was to change his emotions.
It is easy
The key in these situations is to be aware of what you are doing and what you are in control of. You have a choice, even though you may have been unaware of it. You can choose to recall happy memories or unhappy memories.
It’s the same with work
Imagine you have to deal with someone who you normally find very annoying.
Remember, your emotions affect how you behave and perceive the situation. So you can choose to think of all the annoying things the individual has done over the years, or you can access some more pleasant memories, perhaps not even involving that person.
It’s up to you
Just try it out. Even just paying conscious attention to the memories you are accessing and asking yourself how they are helping is a good start. You’ll be amazed how at how effective this strategy can be.