“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein
Negative emotions are Action Signals.
You can use how you feel to make your life better. While negative emotions may be painful, they may also be our best friend. We can use negative emotions to change the quality of our life immediately.
Use Emotions as a Call to Action
I was listening to Tony Robbins talk about how we could master our emotions. He said that the key to mastering emotions is to use them as a call to action.
Every emotion has a message for you. Appreciate the message. Negative emotions are a signal that change is needed.
You can either change your perception or change your approach.
Change Your Perception or Change Your Procedure
What if you knew that no matter what negative emotion you felt, in a moment or two you could get out of that feeling? According to Tony, you can. At any moment when you feel any negative emotion, the first step is to identify the Action Signal. The Action Signal is the message that the particular negative emotion means. The next step, after you clarified the Action Signal, is to take action by either changing your perception or changing your procedure. You change your perception by changing how you look at it or what you focus on. You change your procedure by changing your approach or how you are responding in the situation.
10 Types of Emotions
According to Tony, here are the 10 broad categories of emotions to use for this exercise:
- Uncomfortable – Impatient, uneasy, distressed, mildly embarrassed.
- Fear – Concern, apprehension, scared, terrified.
- Hurt – Sense of loss.
- Anger – mildly irritated, resentful, livid, rage.
- Frustration – held back or hindered in the pursuit of something.
- Disappointment – sad, defeated.
- Guilt – emotions or regret.
- Inadequacy – less than or unworthy.
- Overloaded – overwhelmed, hopeless, or depressed.
- Loneliness – apart or separate from.
This is the set of negative emotions that we’ll turn into Action Signals. Instead of getting controlled by these emotions, we’ll use them as signals to take action. That action is to either change our perception or change our behavior.
According to Tony, here are what the 10 Action Signals mean:
- Uncomfortable – When you feel uncomfortable, this is a signal to change your state. Clarify what you want, then take action in that direction.
- Fear – Fear is a signal to prepare ourselves or get prepared. Get yourself prepared to deal with something that’s about to come. If it’s beyond your control, then change your perception and let it go.
- Hurt – Hurt is a signal that you have an expectation that’s not being met or you have a sense of loss. Evaluate whether there really is a loss. Next, change your perception or change your way of communicating your needs or change your behavior.
- Anger – This is a signal that an important rule that you have in your life has been violated by somebody else or maybe even you. Clarify your rules or adjust them. Your rules might not match other people’s rules so if you don’t change them, you might be angry the rest of your life.
- Frustration – The signal is you’re doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. You need to change your approach to achieving your goal.
- Disappointment – This is a signal that you need to realize that an expectation or an outcome you had won’t happen, and you need to change your expectation. For example, maybe your timeframe was too short.
- Guilt – Guilt is a signal that you violated one of your own standards. Don’t stay in guilt, but don’t deny it. Make things right when you screw up. When you can’t change the past, change your present and future behaviors. Recognize when you’re feeling guilty when you shouldn’t be, change your perception, and let it go.
- Inadequacy – This is a signal that you need to do something to get better. Get up and do something to get better or change your criteria. Maybe your rules are too harsh. You don’t have to be perfect – you simply need to start taking action, such as go practice, to improve at whatever it is.
- Overloaded – This is a signal to reevaluate what is most important to you in this situation. Distinguish between what is a necessity versus. what is a desire. Prioritize your list. Take the first one on your list and do something about it. Do something to take control of events instead of let them control you. The simplest way is to chunk it down, take one thing, and act on it.
- Loneliness – The signal is we need a connection with people. Clarify what kind of connection you need: basic friendship, somebody to laugh with, somebody to listen to you, etc. Then change your approach or change your perception..
I have to say, this is some of the most effective and actionable guidance I’ve heard on mastering emotions. What I like about it is that rather than simply dismiss your negative emotions or suppress them, it’s about embracing them, and using them to inspire action. It’s a way to empower yourself to make meaningful changes in your life, and make the most of any negative emotion to avoid spiraling down or stewing in your own juices. You control your emotions instead of letting your emotions control you.
Photo by OiMax.