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Our lives are controlled by the meanings we associate to things and situations. These meanings in turn are shaped by our own personal psychology and our model of the world (our own beliefs and values that we have created).
For example, imagine there are two people that experience the same event: they both find out they have adrenal fatigue.
One person thinks I’m a loser, a failure, how come this happens to me? While the other person thinks, life is challenging me, sending me a message. This is the greatest gift I have ever received.
The perceptual difference between both people not just affects the quality of their life but also determines what action they will next take. As soon as meaning is established, a person will have a pattern of emotions that he/she associates to the meaning as his/her natural coping behavior. So for instance, the person who thinks “I’m a loser”, will probably have a negative pattern of emotions. What action will the person take who thinks I’m a loser, a failure? And the person who thinks life is challenging me, sending me a message? Who will be more likely to have a positive, proactive mindset for recovery?
People can generate virtually an unlimited variance in meanings and emotions. And all meanings are driven by our individual patterns of emotions. These emotions are driven by 3 forces that shape the meanings we take from those emotions. Tony Robbins calls these 3 primary patterns of emotion the “Triad”. Every single emotion (or emotional state) has it’s own Triad!
Emotion is created by motion. Whatever you are feeling is related to how you are using your body (how are you breathing, your posture, body movement and so forth).
“The fastest way you change your state is to change your physiology. A radical change in physiology will change you faster than anything you can try and think yourself into to. When you change your physiology it is like TV, its like changing the channel from a sad story into an adventure”– Tony Robbins
For example if you want to feel depressed, start by slumping over, breathing shallowly, looking at the ground, speak quietly and frown. The way you use your body biochemically changes the way you feel. In the same way, if you want to feel more confident, be grounded, stand tall, speak loudly, breathe fully. The same goes if you want to feel passionate – move and speak more rapidly and take on your physiology of passion.
The next force that determines how you feel is what you decide to focus on. You will feel whatever you focus on. What you focus on depends on your values, the rules you have for forfulling those values as well as your global beliefs. These are the building blocks of your identity. If you want to feel happy, focus on the things in life that will make you feel happy. Find reasons to be grateful, you can ask yourself questions like “What am I happy about in my life right now?” or remember a happy moment from the past.
In the same way, to feel depressed, you have to focus on the things that will make you feel depressed. You’d have to filter out all the positive things that are happening in your life, and ask yourself questions like “What really sucks in my life right now?”, “Why does this only happen to me?” You can also dwell on depressing moments from the past.
I’d like to share this inspirational clip below from Google executive, Mo Gawdat. In this short YouTube clip he shares his algorithm for happiness and gives the formula that helped him in his own life after losing his son:
“Happiness is equal to or greater than the events of your life minus your expectation of how life should be”
As soon as we put words to a situation/experience, it alters the meaning we experience. The words we put to a situation/experience are about the
At any moment in time, our physiology, what we focus on and the meaning we attach to what we’re focusing on produce an emotion, and that emotion creates a certain behavior.
Let’s say Juliet is about to have an appointment with her boss for her annual performance review. In terms of Physiology, Juliet is nervous, her muscles are tensed, her breathing is shallow and her stomach feels bad. In terms of Focus, she’s only thinking about that big client she lost. In terms of Language/Meaning she’s thinking the boss is a selfish, arrogant and even mean person who will probably lay her off. What are the chances Juliet has a succesful meeting?
Now let’s compare Juliet to John who is also about to meet his boss for his annual performance review. In terms of Physiology, John puts himself in a positive state by doing some powerful stretches and a few rounds of deep breathing exercises. In terms of Focus, he did lose a big client, but still he has been a valuable contributor to the team. In terms of Language/Meaning, he’s thinking that the boss is a sensitive and intelligent person who understands and appreciates the value of his work. What are the chances that John will have a successful meeting?
Every position we take and every choice we make is an attempt to satisfy our most important needs. Juliet was driven by the need for certainty and significance. John was driven by the need for connection and contribution. Do you see that Juliet’s needs for significance and certainty prevented her from thinking about her own contribution and from connecting to her boss in a positive way? John’s need for connection and contribution on the other hand, helped him to focus on what he had contributed to the company and on the positive qualities of his boss.
Understanding, and influencing your Triad is the first step toward emotional mastery. When, by using the Triad, you can influence your emotions, you can decide to spend more time in positive, resourceful emotional states. From these states, you’ll be able to make decisions that will help you reach your full potential and enjoy every moment of your life in.
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