Emotional Mastery – Part 1
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Do you want to become a ‘master’ of your emotions?
Emotional mastery takes time, self-awareness, and patience. We’ve all experienced times when it seemed like our emotions controlled us, rather than the other way around. However, learning how to master your emotions can equip you with the skills you need to adapt and improve your emotional intelligence.
But, why is emotional mastery so important?
In this post, we’ll explore why emotional mastery matters, what emotions are, and the brain’s role in all of this.
3 ways people deal with their emotions
Everyone deals with their emotions in one of three ways:
1. Unaware and Engulfed
If you fall into this category, you’re likely to be someone who lacks awareness of your emotions. You might struggle to ‘hold back’ in certain situations and you tend to let your emotions take control. You may be someone who acts on impulse unless something or someone gets in the way.
2. Aware and Accepting
If you are aware of your emotions and you accept them without question, you fit perfectly into this category. You are aware of your emotions, which is a positive thing, but you accept the emotions (good or bad) because you don’t realize how you can influence your emotions.
3. Aware and Mastery
When you are aware of your emotions and understand how to master them, you have achieved emotional mastery. You are aware of your emotions and you make a conscious choice to master them. You understand the importance of emotions, but you don’t let your emotions dictate your life. Congratulations, you are setting the standard for the rest of us!
Why is emotional mastery important?
Emotional mastery is a vital skill to acquire.
Let me explain why. The quality of our emotions directly impacts the quality of our lives. Think about it. If you’re happy all the time, you probably live a carefree life, free from the chains of stress and anxiety. On the other hand, if you’re feeling down and negative all the time, you may struggle to enjoy your day-to-day life because you’re so focused on those negative emotions.
Either way, emotions are equivalent to the quality of our lives. Emotions are also connected to our goals. Yes, we want to acquire the goal itself. However, the emotions that achieving our goals will trigger is the true purpose behind our goals.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is more important than Intelligence Quotient (IQ). This one might be a little harder to wrap your head around, but it’s true. People hold a lot of value in their IQ and more often than not, their emotional intelligence is left on the back burner.
Finally, emotional mastery is important because emotions are the highest value resource you have. If we take the time to figure out how to use them wisely, we can get the highest return on these resources!
How do emotions impact your quality of life?
Simply put, positive emotions create a positive life while negative emotions create a negative life.
It really is as simple as that.
Your consistent emotions play a vital role in your happiness. If you’re trapped in a pool of negative emotions, it’s difficult to achieve a high quality of life.
This quote by Helen Keller illustrated the relationship between emotions and quality of life perfectly…
“The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen or even touched, they must be FELT.”
Emotions: The end purpose of goals
The main purpose of goals is the positive emotion you experience when you achieve the goal.
If your goal is to make a lot of money, it’s not the physical money that you want. Deep down, it’s the feeling of freedom that comes when you have plenty of money.
If your goal is to start a relationship with someone, your end goal is love.
If you want to drop a few pounds, your end goal is the feeling of confidence.
By digging deeper into the end purpose of your goals, you’ll discover that it’s not the initial goal you’re seeking, it’s the positive emotion that you’ll experience as a result of acquiring that goal that makes the goal so desirable.
5 skills of emotional intelligence
It’s almost impossible to consider emotional mastery without emotional intelligence (EI). There are five skill areas of emotional intelligence:
- Awareness of emotions
- Management of emotions
- Motivate ourselves
- Awareness of emotions in others
- Influence others’ emotions to improve relationships
Each of these skills are very important, but what does emotional intelligence have to do with intelligence quotient (I.Q.)?
As it turns out, your emotional intelligence plays a significant role in your career success. Research has shown that only 1% to 20% of career success is a result of intelligence. So, what makes up the remaining 80% of career success?
The remaining 80% consists of a range of factors including your personality, family influence, education, luck, and emotional intelligence. Some studies have proven that emotional intelligence plays a huge role in determining whether you advance to senior roles within your field of expertise.
Emotional intelligence applies to other areas of your life too beyond your profession. Some examples include relationships, how you lead others, sports, and so on.
What are the 4 categories of emotions?
There are four categories of emotions.
Firstly, you’ve got positive and negative emotions. These are easier to identify because you have a lot of experience with both.
The purpose of positive and negative emotions is to keep you firmly on the path of survival. You can think of them like as a compass, always pointing you to the direction of true north. You need to pay attention to positive and negative emotions because they keep you ALIVE.
The third and fourth categories of emotions are resourceful and unresourceful emotions. These emotions provide resources to keep you going in the right direction – again, it’s all about survival!
Navigating your emotional compass
The key to emotional mastery is how you interpret your emotions and how you react to them. Emotions are a signaling device. When you experience positive emotions, you know you’re on the right path. Negative emotions tell you that you’re on the wrong path and you need to get back on the right path (preferably sooner rather than later).
So, how can you navigate the emotional compass?
I suggest doing a quick and easy fact check.
Whenever you experience a situation or emotion that you’re not sure about, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the trigger real?
- Is the meaning correct?
- Is the reaction appropriate?
Think carefully about your answers. This will give you time to ground yourself in reality and a chance to consider your emotions and reactions.
The positive side of anger
Anger is usually considered to be a negative emotion. When you’re angry about something, you’re not happy. However, there are times when anger can have positive benefits.
Let’s take stress relief as an example. Studies have shown that anger can be a great source of stress relief and can even have a calming effect on both the mind and body.
Anger can also motivate us to make a change, go after our goals, or seek justice. Often times, anger is the motivating factor behind big changes in your personal life and in the world.
It can even promote cooperation. If you’re angry, people tend to perk up and listen!
Here’s a quote from Aristotle about anger:
“The angry man is aiming at what he can attain, and the belief that you will attain your aim is pleasant.”
As you can see, how you manage your anger and leverage it for positive outcomes has a massive role to play in how your anger (and the anger of others) is perceived.
Unresourceful anger and its consequences
Now it’s time to address the elephant in the room, which in this case, is the many drawbacks of anger.
Unresourceful anger can ignite a range of consequences. It can have a detrimental effect on your health. You may find that your anger has stirred up high blood pressure, insomnia, reduced brain function, and even trigger or contribute to a possible stroke or heart attack.
Anger can also reduce your self-esteem in the long run. At first, you might have felt good about your outburst. But, with a little hindsight, you may feel shame, guilt, or embarrassment following an angry outburst.
Anger can cause issues in your relationships and career. It can even worsen things like anxiety disorders, depression, and stress, etc. Unresourceful anger is definitely not a good thing, which is why emotional mastery is so important to help diffuse the effects of such negative and unresourceful emotions.
What are emotions?
So, what are emotions?
Why do we feel all of these things such as happiness, sadness, anger, and so on?
Well, emotions exist to help us distinguish between a friend and a foe. In the past, this was a crucial skill to master. After all, a friend could help you hunt for your next meal, while a foe could very well turn you into their next meal.
Emotions are also a reaction to a stimulus or trigger. If we’re not careful and we don’t embrace emotional mastery, our emotions can cause us to take action without thinking.
The brain has a very important role to play in all of this.
Here is a brief overview of what parts of the brain control what (emotions, bodily functions, etc.):
Brainstem – basic functions
Limbic system – emotions, learning, memory
Neocortex – rational decision maker
How the old and new brain deal with emotions
This is where things get really interesting. We have two minds, in a sense. One part of our mind is where the ‘old brain’ operates, and this includes the Limbic System and Amygdala. The ‘new brain’ part of our mind contains the Pre-Frontal Cortex.
Both the old brain and the new brain work together in their roles in cause and effect. So, when a stimulus happens, the old brain gets to work first. This is where fast thinking happens. Once the stimulus is received, the old brain checks the ‘memory bank’ in our minds in search of any liable matches. If it finds something familiar, it can then advise us to respond to the stimulus via an emotion.
This emotional signal goes to the new brain where the reasoning process occurs. The new brain applies reasoning (whereas the old brain thinks fast, often causing us to overreact). When reasoning is applied, the emotion changes to something that can lead to a better outcome – the emotion is regulated.
This regulating emotion returns to the old brain, which has had time to pull itself together long enough to reprocess the emotion. It then sends this revised emotion back up to the new brain, which then proceeds to make a decision as to which action to take.
Emotional mastery involves training yourself to pause when you feel an emotion.
Don’t let the old brain take over and cause an overreaction! Think about what has happened. Digest it. Then, make a rational decision.
Want to learn more about emotional mastery?
Check out part two of this blog post (video and podcast), where we dig deeper into the ‘how’ and talk about how you can develop emotional mastery.
You can access even more of Rich’s winning strategies for life and business in his book, Crisitunity, available for free right now.