Self-made businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone said, “Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.” Poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Always do what you are afraid to do.” And spiritual leader Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” I don’t know about you, but I’m sensing a theme here.
Fear is perhaps the most powerful of our emotions. And for good reason. Fear is our defense mechanism. It’s the emotion that fires up our fight or flight response, a reaction in our nervous system that has evolved and sharpened over millions of years. It is also the foundation of so many other emotions. Emotions like anger, resentment, loneliness, unworthiness are all rooted in fear of something. For our ancestors, fear came in short bursts, like when they stumbled across a pack of wild hyenas. And obviously, it was very useful for them. Those sudden shocks of fear drove them to take some sort of action to prevent being torn to shreds. Today we don’t have to worry about roaming bands of hyenas, but our nervous system doesn’t seem to know that. Career choices, relationships, financial security, and maybe more than anything else, change can trigger that fear response every bit as effectively as those rabid, fanged predators. But the good news is, we too can use that fear to our benefit. We can train the nervous system and master our emotions so that we define our lives rather than having our lives defined by our emotions.
Leverage emotion. That’s a fancy way of saying, use emotion to drive actions that will get the result you’re looking for. Remember that our emotions remind us of a story that we’ve attached to facts that present themselves in our lives. And it’s those stories that inform the actions we take. Let’s say, for example, you lost your job. This is a fact: You lost your job. And I think just about anyone would agree it’s a fact that’s scary as hell. But the fear you’re feeling does nothing to change the fact that you lost your job. Rather, the fear drums up the stories we’ve created around similar experiences from our past. “I’m a failure”, “I’m worthless”, “I’ll never find another job”, “I wish a pack of wild hyenas would just put me out of my misery”. These are the stories that fuel the actions we take (or don’t take) in response to losing a job. But you can train your emotional responses so that your brain will tell a different story. You can learn to use that initial fear response to propel yourself forward, even in the face of the most daunting challenges. Once you start taking action toward your aim—in this case, creating your vision for your dream job and going after it—you can shift from leveraging that kick-in-the-pants to leveraging emotions on the love-based side like inspiration and passion.
Dissolve emotion. When you train yourself to recognize and identify the emotions that are present for you, when you learn to tell the difference betweens facts and stories, you will be able to take ownership of fear-based states and allow them to dissolve away. Facing fear head on, understanding the emotions that arise when fear is present, gives you the power to create the outcome you want. Obviously, the fact of losing a job would create fear in just about anyone. As far as your brain and nervous system are concerned, losing your job is no different than being surrounded by that pack of hyenas. The sympathetic nervous system kicks into overdrive, firing up that fight or flight response. But utilizing simple techniques, like the 4-sided breath, can flip the switch in your nervous system and re-engage a love based spectrum. The fear and anxiety literally dissolve away. With practice, you can hone the skill of disabling that fight or flight response until it simply becomes a reflex when faced with a challenge such as losing a job.
Create emotion. Now, some of you may be thinking, “Gee, thanks Joey. Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll just create happiness. I’ll just create all the feels. While I’m at it, I’ll just create ten million dollars for my bank account. And I’ll create the perfect relationship that I’ve always wanted.” And to that I say, Good! Now you’re getting it! I never said it would happen overnight or that you could just snap your fingers and have the life you’ve always dreamed of. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in the wrong place, and you’re going to be looking for a long, long time. What I am saying is that you can use your imagination and memories of past experiences to light up the emotional states that are attached to them. Our fear responses can be so powerful because we’ve spent our entire lives training them, without even knowing we are doing it. With intention, time, and practice, we can also train ourselves to induce love-based emotions. Like finding breadcrumbs in the forest, we can use past experiences and simply our imagination as points of reference leading us back to an expansive, love-based state. Losing your job doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. Remember, the fact is you’ve lost your job. The story you're telling is that losing your job means you’re a worthless failure. But after utilizing the techniques I described above, you’re ready to begin creating from an expansive love-based state. The fact remains the same. But now you can start telling a new story. Losing your job isn’t a disaster, it’s an opportunity. What do you see yourself doing next? What is it you’ve always wanted to try but just didn’t have the time? Leverage your imagination to create a vision for the experience you want to have at work. What is the culture like? Who are the people? What's the rhythm of your day? What salary are you earning? What skills and talents are you contributing? What emotions are present - inspiration, passion, gratitude, joy? Awesome! Drive your job search through those emotions rather than from inside the story that you’re a loser and a failure and that you’ll never work again.
One of our key differentiators at IMS is our emotional training. We do a deep dive into these tools, techniques and strategies in our Power of Emotion Weekend Intensives and Classes. Step by step, you learn to master your emotions and leverage them to create the results you’re looking for. Click HERE for more information.