Emotions You Act on Grow Stronger
by Barnes Boffey, Ed.D
Director of Training, Aloha Foundation… www.alohafoundation.org
One of the most destructive patterns we can engage in is the belief that by giving into fear that it will decrease in strength. For example, if I am scared of telling someone the truth and I gave into that fear and don’t talk with them, my fear of doing it will increase, not decrease. Any emotion I act on will increase in strength; it’s like using a muscle. If I act on courage, I will become more courageous; if I act on forgiveness, I will become more forgiving; if I act on fear, anger or jealousy, I will become more fearful, angry and jealous. We don’t feel our way into new way of acting. We act our way into a new way of feeling. The tools we use to get there are these:
- 1. Admit how we are feeling at the present time. (“I am feeling very angry.”)
- Decide if this is how we would like to be feeling in this situation (“Do I want to continue to be angry?”)
- If the answer is yes, there is no problem. If the answer is “No,” then we ask ourselves what emotion we would like to create to replace the one we don’t want. ( “Instead of feeling angry, what would like to be feeling in this situation? …. I think I would rather be calm and forgiving.”)
As a general rule, it is important to remember that “We don’t push away the darkness, we turn on the light.” We don’t remove what we don’t want in the world of emotional well-being, we create what we do want and the non-desired emotions are replaced. When we go into a dark room, we don’t spend our time pushing away the darkness, we turn on the light and the darkness goes away. And, like emotional well-being, if we turn off the light, the darkness returns.
- Begin to think and act in the manner that someone would who felt the emotion you want to feel (and here’s the crucial part) even though you don’t feel it. Your action and thinking will eventually create the emotion you desire. (If I were feeling forgiving, what would I be saying to myself (my thoughts) and what would I be doing (my actions). I need to start doing those now even though I realize I don’t feel like it.)
Traditional wisdom would have us wait until we change our emotions before we change our actions, but that is a self-defeating process.