If you could control your emotions, then that would be the ultimate technique. I'm serious. If you were able to do this, you'd always have something to fall back on. It's like having a weapon for every time something goes wrong. You could win without fail. You could rise above any struggle in the gym. And you'd be able to apply yourself to any task, finally achieving goals that had previously seemed impossible.
I know from reading your thoughts that you think I've been reading a lot of “hippy” blogs. That I might have a little too much hippy-dippy stuff going on. But I'm serious. A lot of people underestimate the power and influence of their thoughts, emotions, and id. So let me give you an explanation for where all this is coming from, which will then demonstrate how to regain some of your control.
Unlimited Strength, Perfect Focus, Incredible Creativity and Social Skills
I'll be the first to admit that this sounds like a bold statement. But I'm going to ask you to hear me out.
“Emotions and strength”
Sometimes, people need to take it to the next level. Some of the most intense fighters in history were known as Beserkers. These Norse warriors would fly into a mad fit of rage on the battlefield and become almost untouchable. In this heightened state, they were capable of amazing feats of might.
There have been more recent accounts of something similar too. Hysterical strength is a term used to describe more recent scenarios where individuals have seemingly been able to dig into an immense reserve of strength at will. This is where the stories of Mothers lifting cars off of their children trapped beneath come in. Likewise, there is a story of a rock climber who managed to bench press themselves free of a huge boulder likely 200KG or more.
People often say that the strength comes from anger, but scientists have an explanation for this. One theory is that the body produces excess testosterone, adrenaline and cortisol when it's under extreme stress. These hormones help increase your heartrate, focus and tone – which is why you feel like you can lift more weights.
In reality, it may be more than that. See, the mind and our biology impose limits on how strong we can become. When you pick up an object, you do so by recruiting muscle fibers – little bands that make up the muscle and contract in order to give us our strength. The average person is only able to recruit around 30% of their muscle fibers under normal circumstances.
The most that a highly trained athlete can recruit is about 50% (and it's probably even less). That means a person's maximum strength is unavailable to the person. Which is why we refer to a “mind muscle connection.” Ever seen someone get electrocuted in a movie (think Jurassic Park)? A common idea behind that situation is that the individual will get flung across the room into the far wall.
It's their own muscles that cause them to be thrown up in the air. Electricity causes all the muscle to contract at once, which creates a jolt so strong it makes people go flying! They can unleash that same power on roofs and use it to leap up there.
The reason we can't access so much of our strength is mostly that most of the bones in our arms and hands are in joints, and moving them too much will make the muscles and ligaments more likely to pull. And since we need to use those muscles, their natural function will cause us to tire out pretty quickly.
The more muscle you use in one movement, the less you'll have for the rest of your day.
Sometimes we find ourselves faced with challenges that seem insurmountable. But under the right conditions, accessing this enormous reservoir of power can help tremendously. With adrenaline and other hormones in the right amounts, we are able to tap into this power.
Studies show that yelling in the gym can actually enhance muscle fiber recruitment and increase adrenaline, resulting in strength improvements. Now imagine if you could tap into just 80% of that power at will? Simply by harnessing your emotions?
Emotions for Calm, Collected Focus
However, in the real world, strength is not what it takes to be successful. This is where the flow state comes in. A flow state occurs when you are so focused and engaged in what you are doing that the world seems to slow down around you.
Have you ever been so absorbed in a task that time just seems to disappear? In this type of mental state, also known as “flow,” people often find they are able to perform at their best. Whether it's an extreme sport or music, this mental state can be seen when the individual is completely focused on the task at hand.
When you're writing, it's important to know that your work is going well and you want to keep writing. But, what if you get stuck or feel like quitting? Sometimes, tapping into something called a flow state helps people keep going. A flow state is when someone works for hours on end without noticing the time passing by. Studies show us that executives who are in flow manage are much more productive than those that don't. The same goes for startups, which can experience a burst of creativity thanks to the freedom from constraint and structure.
So what is flow? Well, it’s very similar to another emotion, like anxiety. It's a mental state that is triggered by hormones and neurotransmitters as you experience a release. It carries a subtle variation on the fight or flight response, but it's not strictly either of those things. It has more to do with stress and panic than anything else. Here, you believe something is just as important as preventing yourself from getting injured, and it's just as compelling as fighting for your life, but it also feels natural rather than scary.
To put it simply, meditation brings about a release of excitatory and calming hormones, as well as those related with bliss. This actually suppresses activity in the prefrontal cortex, triggering hypofrontality. This prevents you from worrying or second-guessing yourself during this time.
Most of the time, we feel anxious, frozen with fear. But what if we could change that? What if we could talk up to a woman or man at a bar and deliver our wit in the wittiest conversation ever? What if we could talk passionately and without fear, extending all sorts of interests to people? Imagine being able to keep working on your projects for hours without getting tired.
You don't need to worry, or be doubtful. You won't let bursts of anger or frustration get in the way, and in the end you'll find that you love what you do. Many people try and live their lives with a sense of flow as much as possible. The problem is that many of us struggle with anxiety, busy work schedules, and chores.
When we're limited by debt, what our boss said at the office, or other challenges, it can be hard to stay present and get anything done. Being in flow doesn't just make you happy and confident – it also makes you unstoppable.
You might not know it, but your emotions can actually affect your creativity levels. You see, the opposite of a flow state is something known as the default mode network. This refers to areas in your brain that are engaged when you're repeating boring, repetitive tasks or relaxing. When you let yourself be at peace and allow your mind to wander, this is what happens in the default mode network.
Many people give this mental state a hard time. They say that this is the opposite of living in the moment, when your inner Woody Allen chirps up and your creativity falters. But in fact, this is also when you're most likely to come up with truly unique ideas. This is what Einstein was in when he came up with his special theory of relativity (while working in a patent office!).
A quiet mind is an active mind. Thoughts and ideas come to us when we daydream and let our minds wander freely.
Some might say there's no emotion that is inherently “good” or “bad.” The answer is being able to access the right emotion at the right time. It's about emotional control.
If you want to seem confident, stop worrying about what others think. If you want to be a leader, you need to be able to take control and not second guess yourself. When things go wrong, don't get upset, just try your best and move on. When you want to engage with others and make friends and partners, be charismatic, engaging, and entertaining.
Having control over your emotions is essential in order to be successful. But it can be a tough feat for most of us. When we don't have a good day, instead of moving on, we will sulk and put ourselves even more at risk. When things are wrong at work, we argue with our significant other and avoid important work. We sabotage our success and undermine what's really going well all because we can't control our emotions.
Taking back control over your emotions doesn't have to be difficult. There are two main things you should keep in mind: your physiology and your mindset. Physiology refers to how your body reflects how you're feeling. For example, if you're happy, then you're likely smiling and laughing. The same goes with feelings of sadness or anger – they'll show up as moods on the outside that are then conveyed to other people via nonverbal cues. Mindset usually refers to your core beliefs and determines how you evaluate information and use that data to make decisions.
Although emotions may seem like an intangible idea, in reality, they come as a result of functions your body does. For example, when you feel tired and hungry, your adrenaline peaks. The older part of your brain senses this and tries to find a way to relieve this tension. This is when you get the feeling of an emotion creeping up on you, and it signals the other parts of your brain that hey—something needs to change!
When you eat, your blood sugar and serotonin levels increase. This can make you feel more content and happy, which encourages you to sleep. In the end, what really matters is that serotonin converts to melatonin which makes a person sleepy. All in all, the way you feel is often because of your physiology, so what may be happening is that even if you had a bad day, it's because you're angry.
You feel frustrated because:
- If you're like most people, you didn't sleep last night.
- You're in a little bit of pain
- You have not been eating enough food.
- You’ve eaten too many carbs
- You’ve eaten bad carbs
- You’ve eaten too much sugar
Getting angry is an emotional response. Once you realize this, you have a better chance of feeling empowered. Recognize that if you're angry, it's probably because of physiological reasons and it will eventually go away. At least your anger won't seem worse as time goes on.
First, try to do the things that make you happy. Then turn on some music and dance around. Sleep. Eat something. Take care of yourself. Learn to follow your own rhythms and work when you're most productive in this way. It's important to follow the rhythms of the day and get your circadian cycles in check.
One of the best ways to manage stress is to control how your body reacts. A little breathing can go a long way.
By learning to breathe correctly, you'll be able to lower your heart rate and calm your entire body. This will change your parasympathetic tone, taking you out of “fight or flight” mode and into “rest and digest” mode.
Do you experience high levels of stress, anxiety or feel overly competitive after a workout? Try using a slow breathing technique next time. Slow deep inhales and exhales are a simple but effective way to cope with those emotions. You can also use CBT to help manage your stress. CBT is an acronym for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is used to treat phobias and other types of anxiety disorders.
When you pay attention to the content of your thoughts, you'll discover that some may work better than others. For example, if you think “I'm worried I might fall off this ledge,” you will inevitably feel scared. However, if you think things like “I'm grateful for my wife,” you will likely be less unhappy with where you are in life.
CBT can help you break these habits by providing a testing process to your thoughts and constantly evaluating them. This is called “cognitive restructuring.”
It is also possible to use CBT in the short term by employing different techniques in order to evaluate your state of mind and get more in touch with your emotions. You can then change the way you feel about a situation.
If you're feeling stressed about a recent deadline and it's ruining your evening, try using cognitive restructuring. In this exercise, you assess the thoughts that are making you stressed, and then replace them with more productive ones.
There are a lot of questions that come up when you're struggling to meet expectations, and we can help you figure them out. Here are a few ideas you might consider:
- Does that stress you out?
- Does it make you better?
- What's the worst possible outcome if you don't finish your work?
- Would it really be that bad if you let someone know you couldn't work any more?
- Is your boss really expecting too much out of you all the time?
- Have you done this recently?
- When was the last time you did this?
- Is there anything you could do to make things easier, or less painful for you?
- What would you rather have the time to do?
If a thought or emotion comes up that feels bad, use Controlled Breathing to focus on a single thing. You can also use CBT to bridge the gap between your thoughts and your physical responses. Basically, your emotions and body are designed to make you act in ways that are favorable for you, such as having sex, eating food, having shelter, finding love, or achieving success.
A problem is that the tasks you need to do usually don’t get you what you want in the short term. In the long term, entering data into that spreadsheet helps you keep your job which helps pay for food and keeps your family happy.
In the short term, increased regulatory compliance will mean more paperwork and red tape. However, long term, it will result in a safer business environment.
Remind yourself of your motivation. You will do this not only by talking it out, but also using visualization. Picture the end result you want. Picture the wealth, success and satisfaction you're looking for. Remember that each step you take today is taking you one step closer to your ultimate goal. Once your heart and mind are in agreement, anything is possible.
There is still a lot more to learn if you want to have better communication skills on top of the communication barriers that we are dealing with in certain situations. If you want to sharpen your communication skills, then the Communication Skills Training Series is exactly what you need!