Instant Confidence: The Power to Go for Anything You Want by Paul McKenna PH.D. (2016)
DEVELOPING THE CONFIDENCE HABIT
Why Do We Feel What We Feel?
Recent scientific research has shown that people’s emotional baseline is set within the first few years of life. Unless they experience a major life change, most people will never feel significantly higher or lower than they have learned to be during that time.
“We have tamed the beasts and schooled the lightning … but we have still to tame ourselves.”
H. G. WELLS
By doing the exercises in this book, watching the videos, and listening to the hypnotic trance, you are raising your positive emotional baseline. You will still be able to feel a full, dynamic range of emotions, but your highs will be higher and your lows will be higher as well.
People often think that because I teach and practice these tools on a daily basis, I must never feel bad or uncomfortable. While I do choose to feel good in most situations, I always take the time to feel my feelings and listen to any messages they may have for me.
Your emotions are not just sensations that float around your body, causing you to feel better or worse at random. They are actually an important part of your intelligence. Emotions are your unconscious mind’s way of telling you that there is something going on in your life you need to pay closer attention to.
For many centuries, Western cultures have placed a high value on suppressing and ignoring emotional reactions. This is not only a bad idea—it’s a potentially dangerous one.
Imagine if you asked someone to wake you up in the morning because you had important things to do. They tried whispering your name, gently nudging you and even shouting. Eventually, they would have to tip you out of bed or pour a bucket of ice-cold water on you just to get a response.
This kind of rude awakening happens to many people who have consistently ignored their emotional messages over time, burying themselves in work, drink, food, or drugs rather than dealing with uncomfortable feelings as they arise. The more they ignore their feelings, the more intense the feelings get, until incidents of depression, anger, violence, and illness lead to problems that can no longer be ignored.
Fortunately, this is now beginning to change. With the advent of more and more books and courses teaching about “emotional intelligence,” both science and society are beginning to recognize the importance of being aware of and in touch with our innermost feelings.
Increasing Your EQ
Meeting and understanding our uncomfortable feelings is how we learn and grow as people. Emotions are, if you like, our sixth sense—they change and evolve over time because both we and our lives change as time passes.
“The happiness of the human race in this world does not consist in our being devoid of passions, but in our learning to command them.”
However, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between feelings that arise as unconscious reactions to the pictures and sounds in your head and the deeper emotions that carry important messages you can learn from.
Here is the test:
When you are feeling an uncomfortable emotion, change what you are saying to yourself in your head, the pictures you are making in your mind, and the way you are using your body. If the same emotion keeps coming back, it may have an important message for you from your unconscious mind.
For example, if you visualize giving a presentation perfectly and begin to feel much better, you were worrying unnecessarily. If even after imagining yourself doing it perfectly, your feeling of discomfort doesn’t change, you need to ask yourself, “What do I need to pay attention to here? What is the message that you have for me?”
The more you establish a sense of connection with your emotions, the more in control of your life you feel and the more quickly you will be able to pick up and act on the messages they are sending you. In this way, you are becoming more and more emotionally intelligent.
Learning from Our Emotions
One of the things I’ve noticed that really marks a significant turning point for people is the moment when they stop repressing or distracting their feelings and begin instead to listen for the message underlying them.
“There can be no knowledge without emotion.”
Here are some of the most common emotional messages we receive on an almost daily basis, and some insight into what they usually mean:
Anger is usually a sign that one of our rules or boundaries has been violated, either by ourselves or by someone else. The message is to either take action for what we believe is right or, in some cases, to accept the things we cannot change.
Fear is really just a warning that something bad could happen, so you’d better be prepared. If you feel that you are fully prepared, or if you are experiencing fear in a situation where you normally feel comfortable, it could be a genuine warning of physical danger.
Frustration arises when you’re not achieving the level of results you believe you should in the timeframe you believe you should achieve them. The message is usually to take some time to reflect on your level of commitment to the goal and/or your strategy for achieving it. Once you have done so, you can either recommit, drop the goal, or change your strategy.
Guilt tends to come about whenever you are not living up to one of your own standards of conduct. Guilt’s message is very simple—don’t do it again and do what needs to be done to put it right!
Sadness is the result of feeling that something is missing from our lives, either because we’ve lost it or we’ve lost touch with it. The underlying message is both to appreciate what you’ve lost and to be grateful for what you still have. In some cases, the message may be to fight to get it back, as in the case of a “lost love” or an abandoned dream.
If you can’t find what you’re feeling on the list above or if what’s written there doesn’t fit for you, here’s an exercise that will help you in listening to and hearing the important messages your emotions want to bring you …
Read through the exercise before you do it for the first time …
1. Clarify the emotion that you are finding uncomfortable. Don’t be distracted by thinking about WHY you are feeling it—just focus on the feeling itself. Where in your body do you feel it? Are there certain situations, times, places, or people with whom it tends to arise?
2. Next, ask yourself what the feeling is about—what message does it have for you? If you’re not sure, it’s okay to guess—whatever you guess will inevitably come directly from your intuitive self.
3. Whatever the message, let your unconscious mind know you’ve received it. If there is any action to be taken, promise yourself you will take it as soon as possible—ideally within the next 24 hours.
4. You’ll know you’ve correctly identified the emotion and its message when the uncomfortable feeling begins to dissolve into the background and your natural, confident sense of ease and well-being returns to the fore.
For more practice, play the Emotional Wisdom video.