We all know how pesky our negative emotions can be and how they make us feel less confident.
According to psychology, our happiness depends on experiencing infrequent negative feelings, frequent positive feelings and high life satisfaction (Diener, 1984), with the frequency of positive feelings weighing the heaviest in the equation.
The clever scientists have again stated what we have known all along: we need to experience more positive emotions in order to feel happy than negative ones. Duh. Next please!
In truth it`s not this simple, but merely knowing this information is a whole different ballgame than actually mastering your emotions (and your life) so that you can enjoy lifelong happiness. And by the way if you are reading this to only learn some interesting information without acting on it, let me quote Bruce Lee so that you can decide to change your mind:
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
This article is my gift to those who are fully committed to taking massive action to transform their lives. If you are one of them, please ponder these questions for a moment. What would it be worth for you to gain mastery over your emotions? To get rid of suffering? Remind yourself of your answers whenever you need to keep yourself on track.
What prevents most people from creating lasting happiness in their lives is that they have the wrong idea about what creates their negative emotions. Even if they know this little-known secret, they don`t know how to control their emotions and their mind. What is your idea about the immediate cause of your negative emotions?
Is it other people? Events? Making mistakes, or facing the unknown? For most people these are among their answers and they try to control or avoid each and every one of these.
You might be surprised, but actually none of the above causes your emotions. I will tell you what really does in a moment, but let me ask you something first.
Imagine that it’s your wedding day and you’re getting married outside. There’s torrential rain on your wedding day and having nowhere to hide you get completely soaked, feeling wet and cold with your hair and clothes sticking to your body, hardly able to see anything. How do you feel? Horrible, don’t you?
Now imagine that if it rains on your wedding day, in the culture where you grew up this means lifelong happiness and abundance for the couple. How do you feel now? You are probably feeling over the top, celebrating.
Now imagine that you are sitting on your bed preparing to go to sleep and you are watching through the window as it starts raining outside. How do you feel now? You’re likely not feeling anything about the rain now.
Finally imagine that you are a farmer and it hasn’t rained for many weeks. Your crops are all dying and the future seems bleak. Then you notice it has started to rain. How do you feel now? You’re probably feeling excited and grateful for it.
All roads lead to Rome
Did you notice that the difference between these people experiencing different emotions about the same rain was the meaning they gave to it in their head?
Some gave it the meaning that “I`m going to get cold and I won`t look good”. Others thought “How wonderful, we are truly blessed! Let`s celebrate”. The farmer gave the rain the meaning that he`ll be able to provide for his family and they can survive. Sometimes we don`t give meaning to events if we think it won`t affect how our needs can be met. We`ll then be able to simply observe the event.
Meanings cause emotions. Not other people, events, gains or losses, words or actions, pain or pleasure.
For example, let’s take this very obvious and fundamental one: pain and pleasure. You might be saying now: “Of course pain and pleasure create emotions, are you kidding me?”
Well, when they do create positive or negative emotions, it’s because the conscious, or subconscious meaning in our mind that is telling us that we can (in the case of pleasure) or we can’t survive (feeling pain a.k.a. receiving damage).
Take people who enjoy feeling pain for example. They might gain sexual pleasure from it because they have a meaning in their head that allows them to do so. Or they might think that if it hurts, it means that their exercise is working. Or if they learn or work painfully hard, they might believe it builds character or more commonly, that because of enduring this pain they will be better persons worthy of attention, love or other rewards.
Most people would avoid consistent pain because it means consistent damage and eventually death to them. Unless they have a different meaning in their heads about it.
Can you see that all roads lead to Rome? In this case to the beliefs and meanings in our heads that are creating our emotions moment to moment.
Looking at your own life
If you still need to be convinced, think of the last time you were afraid, angry or sad. What was the meaning in your head that you gave to what was happening, just before the emotion appeared? To understand this, pause for a moment now and take your time until you really have found that meaning. This is a light bulb moment for many people.
Maybe you thought that someone didn’t care. Or didn’t respect you. Or that you were not in control and couldn’t get what you wanted. Or your survival was in danger. Whatever it was, can you see it now that this meaning in your head has created your emotion and lack of confidence and not the event itself?
You might still be attached to the idea that it was the event that caused your emotion. This is because the meaning we give to it almost always appears to be a built-in, organic part of the event.
Events have no inherent meaning
You see, an event can mean anything. It could have an unlimited number of positive or negative meanings. It is our mind that will come up with a completely arbitrary one in the moment and attach it to otherwise completely meaningless events. Because events have no inherent meaning.
This is important so I’ll repeat this. Events have no inherent meaning.
“Wait, how come they don’t have any inherent meaning?” “They must have some meaning!”
No, they really don’t.
Remember the example we started with? There was no inherent meaning in the rainy weather. Based on what we need in the moment, our minds will give it a meaning that will have nothing to do with the true nature of the event. That is being devoid of all meaning.
10 different people of various ages and gender, from completely different backgrounds will come up with vastly different arbitrary meanings for the same event. Imagine these people watching the event that you thought was the cause of your emotion. Listen to the different meanings each will give to your event. This proves that there is no inherent meaning in any event; we give those arbitrary meanings to events that will in turn determine how we feel about them.
How you can take back control
So the next time you react to something and want to feel happy and confident, remember that you are creating your feelings with the meanings that are running through your mind on autopilot. Often below your current level of awareness so that you are only aware of your emotion or energetic state and think that`s the be all and end all.
“So how can I control my emotions? These meanings in our heads usually go under the radar and even if I can notice them, what can I do to be confident? Shall I fight against them?”
If you’ve tried fighting against your thoughts you’ve probably realised it was an uphill battle and the thoughts only came back stronger along with the negative emotions they created. This was lowering your self-confidence too. Sometimes you distract yourself from these negative emotions with food, drugs, alcohol, sex or doing something extreme. You certainly realise now that this is not the way to find happiness, gain natural confidence and skilful control over your emotions.
A very useful way to take the fang of the negative meanings out is to first identify and then detach them from the pure event. Events have naturally got unlimited potential, including the positive ones and giving them meanings will limit your ability to respond to them in an optimal way.
The good news is that this process can be done playfully and it can become a habit too, so you can automatically notice and dissolve negative meanings as they arise.
This is a lot like mindfulness practice and it will reinforce neural pathways in your brain that will make you more aware of what’s going on in your mind. You`ll even be able to distance yourself from those negative thoughts and meanings with committed practice, just like people who regularly meditate are able to. The difference is that this will be effective even when you are just starting out and gives you similar overall benefits. You`ll also gain more wisdom and understanding of how your thoughts are creating your emotions right from the beginning. Becoming rooted in mindfulness will help you eliminate most limiting self-esteem beliefs automatically because this creates a new context in the brain for those beliefs.
Are You An Empath?
There is a number of usually spiritual people who will read this post who consider themselves an ’empath’. Empaths take on people’s feelings and often they are at the mercy of this happening.
Because of weaker personal boundaries and an identity that was not formed healthily in childhood the quality of the energetic states of empaths are more subject to the environment and the people around them.
Having little control over their own states, the frequent pain, powerlessness and frustration will get them stuck in identifying with their current feelings and energetic states. Because energies feel more permanent than the physical body, identifying with energies is an answer to their unconscious existential fears that we all have. It gives them a sense of certainty as they failed to adequately form a strong and healthy identity early on in life.
Identifying with energies and making them more real than other contents of our experience will push those other contents into the subconscious, including what is causing those energetic states. This getting lost in and being identified with their subtle energies prevent them from becoming aware that their beliefs and meaning in their heads create their feelings, emotions and energetic qualities. Because they focus on feeling these energies and treating them as the foundation and root cause of reality, they lose touch with the real causal level: their beliefs and meanings.
They won’t realise either that what they think they are is just a phenomenon in pure consciousness. Their belief systems and spiritual egos are constantly controlling their states subconsciously.
This identity will justify itself by keeping the forces that influence it hidden and by filtering the person’s perception of reality.
Because of their resistance to most things I will talk about, these people won’t be able to benefit from this website much except for learning to understand and identify human needs and how to change their state in an instant. This site is going to challenge their identity too. It is important to me to be upfront about this in the starting article to avoid wasting their time if they are not open to what I am going to share with them. They can say goodbye now without making much of an investment in what I share with them that can make letting go more painful.
If you are one of them and haven’t clicked away yet, congratulations! You are likely ready to shift your limiting identity and the beliefs attached to it that have created your powerlessness. You can benefit greatly from following these 8 steps below.
Overview: The 66 day Emotional Mastery Challenge
To make this part of your life, this is what I’d like to invite you to do in the next 66 days. There are less than 100 days left before we step into the New Year and I’d like you to start the New Year strong. The perfect time to create any positive change is always now.
This powerful 8 step challenge was inspired by Morty Lefkoe`s process. You’ll be increasing your ability to immediately become aware of the negative meanings in your mind and eliminate them before they can put you in a negative state. You will be free of negative emotions and suffering. You will also become aware of more opportunities with the ability to act on them without procrastination and realise your full potential. You will be more happy and confident.
For the next 66 days, you are going to set an alarm on your phone for every hour of your waking time to stop and reflect on what negative emotion you experienced in the last hour and what meaning you gave to what was happening that caused this. Really come to a full stop, relax as much as you can and listen to your inner world until you get in touch with the meaning.
Especially when you are just starting out, it can take some time to find the gold, so keep digging diligently. Forming habits can be challenging in the beginning so make a decision now that you will approach it with playfulness and curiosity to make it easier and more fun. See if you can find what excites you in this game of exploration and you might soon find that it has become almost effortless.
If you find it difficult to focus or make progress and become frustrated about it, notice that you’ve given this a meaning. Something, like: “I can’t do this”; “It’s going to take forever”; “This is not working for me”; “Mindfulness practices are not for my personality” etc. Notice that these are meanings in your head and not reality. These are your limiting beliefs and identity limiting you and holding you back from success and happiness. These will distort the reality you experience and you can`t trust your results either. Your results are the reflection of your beliefs.
Very often we can`t imagine ourselves making a dramatic change, such as doing this exercise 14 times from the very first day. If you find that this is true for you, start by doing it only once on the first day and increase it by one more every day until you reach the daily 14 hourly goal.
If the frustration persists, let go of any effort and resentment, give yourself compassion and congratulate yourself for actually taking action. Then go back to what you were doing before and give it your best shot again an hour later. And then another and another and another hour later. Focus on how this game of exploration feels fun and interesting to you. Stick to it and you’ll eventually notice that you’ve become better at this game. You’ll feel empowered, excited and liberated as you realise that you have more control over your thoughts and emotions.
When you make a clear distinction between the meaning and the actual event, you’ll see the event in its unadulterated state. Without the meaning and the emotion you are finally free to deal with it in any way you want with peace of mind, clarity and remaining open to all possibilities.
Your 8 easy steps to emotional mastery
Follow this step-by-step formula to transform your life in 66 days. Make sure you are doing these now as you are reading this.
- Set up an alarm now on your phone for every hour that you are awake. By far the best way to do this is using the free Habit Bull app for iOS or Android. Watch this video for instructions and do this now.
- Whenever an alarm goes off, stop what you are doing and quietly reflect on what negative emotion you’ve felt in the last hour.
- Find the meaning that was in your head that created this emotion just before you felt the emotion. Notice that this was only a meaning, not reality and not part of what was happening. The meaning you made up was in your mind, the event was outside, waiting for you to embrace it without interpretations.
- This will dislodge the meaning from the event that will be there in its purity for you to deal with it using all your now freed up resources.
- The emotion will be gone with the meaning and you’ll become more present, creative and resourceful.
- It will help you to take inspired action to imagine how it supports the belief, that you are now choosing to adopt, that “Life is supporting me and I am always guided“. Now feel gratitude for this for a minute. Adopting and constantly reinforcing this belief will automatically give a positive meaning to all events in your life and is a crucial part of this process. No negative emotions can coexist with gratitude.
- Make a public commitment on social media or to your friends and family in person that you’ll complete this challenge and ask them to hold you accountable for following through. This will put pressure on you and pressure creates diamonds.
- (Highly Recommended) Download the free Habit Bull app to your iOS or Android device and create a 66 days habit to stop and contemplate on your last meanings at least 14 times every day and do the other parts of this process. I`ve created a video for you where I take you through how to set up this challenge properly on Habit Bull. Watch it on YouTube. 66 days is the minimum length, but if you feel you are up for the challenge, set it for twice as long. Habit Bull will keep you on track like your personal life coach and even offer statistics on your progress, making it very easy to clean the closet of your mind and turn it into your best friend, a reliable tool you can count on during any crisis that life throws at you.
This is how to quickly set up Habit Bull to help you learn to control your emotions:
Use the power of the `investment mindset`
This is an extra, powerful way of leverage you can create to make sure you follow through and create a habit of mastering your emotions. This is totally optional however.
You might have noticed that when you buy a ticket for an event that you don`t really feel like going to when the day comes, maybe because the weather is not good or for some other reason, you`ll often push yourself to go to the event just because you`ve paid for it and you don`t want that investment to go to waste. The more you`ve paid, the more inclined you will be to go. Or to complete a course if that`s what you`ve paid for. With a free event there`s no such pressure on you.
This article is completely free and therefore lacks this extra punch to keep you on track that the same article, if presented as a paid “66 days course in emotional mastery, worth £97”, would be able to give you. You are financially invested in actually doing the course and this is called the “Investment mindset”.
On top of that, we usually perceive free things as lacking in value, even if they are powerful and life changing, like this one here. And this wiring of our brains can prevent us from taking the program seriously and from succeeding.
However, there is a way you can to take advantage of the investment mindset now by donating through this link in exchange for the value you think this article can bring to your life. I`ve had this donation method set up on my site from the beginning anyway and because it can help you be more likely to succeed, you could as well help yourself to using it while supporting my work at the same time. You can support my work here:
If you still haven’t set up your alarm, please do it now and tell me about your progress in the comments below. If you’ve found this useful, please let me know by hitting the like button and sharing this article with your friends so that they can transform their lives too.
I’m wishing you all the peace, bliss and freedom that are your birthright.
To your Emotional Mastery and Confidence,
This is the first article in the 10 part series, titled “Know thyself”.
The next one in the series will be titled “Learn why we do what we do and you`ll stop being judgmental”. Sign up to my newsletter now and get notified when it is ready!
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