Nov 182008

There’s fascinating data out there suggesting that you don’t actually have most of the emotions you feel you do. You have a response in your body and later call that response an emotion. This is called the Singer-Schachter theory of emotion. I’ve written about an experiment about it here. In the same blog entry, I talked about Tim Ferriss‘ reattribution of certain physiological states. In my memory, there’s two he does, the first is about eustress (positive stress that helps you grow) vs distress (negative stress that weakens you), and the second is when he’s fidgety before a big dance competition. Most people would look at his behaviour think about how we’d be feeling in that situation and say that he’s nervous, but he asserts that he’s not nervous, he’s excited. And he’s perfectly right, because if I recall correctly both nervousness and excitement feel the same way, but I’ve been trained to act, think and feel a certain way about each that’s very different. If I attribute my physiological state to nervousness, I’m supposed to be worried, however if I attribute it to excitement, I’m suppose to be happy and at my best.

Steve Pavlina recently did the same sort of thing in a recent blog entry called Fanatical About Growth. He wrote:

The goals that interest me most are the ones that cause me to say to myself, “Wow… I’m really not sure if I’m cut out for this. This looks pretty damned tough. I’m going to have to push myself to a whole new level in order to make it to the end. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to pull this off.”

But then I think to myself, “What if I fail? No big deal. At least I’ll know where my limits are. But what if I succeed? How awesome would that be? I’d gain an incredible new reference experience for the rest of my life. I’d have an amazing experience to share with others. And what new challenges might I tackle beyond this one?” That’s the kind of thinking that excites me.

I find this interesting because if I was in the same position, I’d have very different self-talk. It would be more along the lines of, “What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t measure up? What if I’m not good enough? I’m not sure I can handle that.” Notice, oddly enough, my self-talk isn’t specific, it’s universal about all of me rather than, say my level of self-discipline, and it doesn’t include anything about being able to improve things, as if failing this once means that’s the end of the game and that’s only as good as I can ever be. That’s the epitome of taking it personally. Additionally, I wanted to point out that I asked “what if I don’t measure up? What if I’m not good enough?” while Pavlina said “I’ll know where my limits are.”

According to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, at the bottom of every one of your fears is that you can’t handle what life throws at you, or what you throw at yourself. In the above example, Steve Pavlina has turned a physiological state of arousal into an exciting challenge. I might have seen it as a fear of the unknown, but he sees it as excitement and discovering and mapping out new territory.

I’ve been exposed to a new theory of what emotions might be. They may be a way to size up a situation or a problem quickly, formulate the problem and then try to solve it. However, you can obviously size up things differently and your emotional gut reaction might be different from the one that you might choose consciously. So, I suggest you question your initial gut assumptions and sizing up of a situation, perhaps you will find that what you interpret as a fear or failure or a fear of the unknown into excitement over discovery or exploring new territory, knowing that as you explore, the territory actually grows bigger and there’s more to explore.

What I want to emphasize with all of this is that your emotions are not just your emotions and they’re not all-knowing and always “right”, you can have some conscious control over them. You can see things not as fear inducing, but as exciting, and they’re both “right”. I would choose exciting because that is simply more empowering for me. I hope this helps, and I’d really appreciate your thoughts in the comments to let me know someone’s reading. :-p

Apr 202008

Pavlina‘s writings have been scarce lately as he’s been busy with his upcoming book which I’m highly anticipating. He’s just posted an Anatomy of Personal Change. Some key points I feel have to be highlighted:

The key to making this change was something I wrote about in the very first article I posted on this site, The Courage to Live Consciously. I had to remain aware of the change I wanted to make while accepting that I wasn’t yet strong enough to make it. By keeping myself out of denial, I was able to progressively train myself to reach my goal, even though it would take many years to finally reach it.

30-day trials are a terrific vehicle for achieving readiness. Even if your first trial doesn’t result in permanent change, you’ll learn and grow from the experience. This will put you in a position to kick off additional trials in preparation for an eventual permanent change. My previous raw trials were essential stepping stones for me.

Five years ago if you asked me if I’d eventually become a raw foodist, I’d probably have said, “Yes, I expect I will at some point.” I didn’t know how long it would take, but I thought I’d eventually discover how to make it work.

Why do I think the above is so important? Because it gives you an immense sense of security when you know you’re going to continue growing. You can look at something that scares the hell out of you square in the face and say, yea, I’ll be able to handle this someday. Even if you can’t see the path to how you’re going to do it.

As an example, I know I’ll be a millionaire someday. It’s not even a question anymore, because by saving as little as 4 dollars a day from the age of 20-65 at 10% will give you over 1 million dollars and I’ve started to do that. The question is when and how I’ll become a millionaire. I may become a millionaire or enjoy a financially independent life style way before then. In fact, its starting to look like I will even though I have plenty of obstacles to fight through, including those that I cannot see. But I know I can handle them because I will keep growing and become stronger. I expect to have 1000 dollars a month from passive income in 5 years although I want it sooner. I know that the current path of growth I’m on will lead me there in all likelihood.

That is not all, though. I also feel that in terms of spiritual beliefs, I will probably end up with the ones that work the best for me.

Basically, as long as you keep trying, you’ll get there.