163. Our personal feelings factory.

For the past two weeks we have been discussing The Habit of Emotional Ownership.

Those who have incorporated this habit into the fiber of their very being understand, at the deepest levels, that every emotion they experience is manufactured internally by themselves and consequently, the power and ability to change those emotions at will rests with them.

Many wrestle with the concept that there is no cause and effect relationship between things that happen outside of ourselves – a driver cuts right in front of us forcing us to slam on the brakes – and the emotions we feel on the inside – anger.

When events like this happen The Habit of Emotional Ownership reminds us that we have both the right and the ability to interpret that event any which way we choose, and along with that decision rests our choice in how we will emotionally respond.

In other words, any anger we feel – and attribute to the incident of being cut off in traffic – is created by ourselves, inside ourselves and our act of linking the cause of our anger to the actions of the other driver is completely disempowering as it suggests that we are mere puppets with no choice other than to respond this way each time our strings are pulled by an external puppeteer.

Think of it this way: every emotion we experience is felt by us somewhere inside of our own bodies. There is no cable or Wi-Fi linking our insides to any external event on the outside.

The events that take place outside of our bodies – pretty much everything we experience – may well be viewed as catalysts or triggers for the emotions we feel on the inside but, in and of themselves, cannot possibly play any role in the emotions because of their complete disconnection from us.

When firmly embedded within us, The Habit of Emotional Ownership immediately presents us with a vast menu of all possible emotional choices available to us and invites us to select the one best suited to our present state as opposed to a belief that there is a causal effect which imposes an emotion upon us that we must accept as an inevitable consequence of the event that occurred outside of our bodies.

There are, I believe, three things that must take place each time we experience an emotion.

The first is the story we tell ourselves in the moment – i.e. what we focus on while slamming on the brakes.

The second is the language and tone – either internally or out loud – we choose to use to describe what we are focusing on.

And the third is the role our physiology plays in completing the motion to feel.

Our bodies know exactly what to do to assist us in our choice of feelings. We know instinctively how to adjust our breathing, our facial expressions, our voice tones, our gaze, our body language and our posture in order to grant us the emotions we desire and once we learn how to adjust our focus (perspective), our language and our bodies, we achieve the most liberating gift we can ever give ourselves – emotional ownership.

The Habit of Emotional Ownership is a gift available to all those willing to pay the price of forming a new habit.

And it’s a small price to pay.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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162. He is David by default.

David called last week and asked if he could take me for lunch. He had a story he wanted to share with me.

I am not one for turning down free lunch invitations so naturally I accepted and we set a date for the following day.

I have known David for many years, initially as a client, but mostly as a very good friend and I was curious to hear what it was he wanted to tell me.

In the time I have known David he has always been a happy, gregarious, fun loving person with a strong zest for life and an unshakably optimistic view of the future.

Lunch with David, as always, was a fun, laughter filled event and the story he shared with me certainly came as a surprise.

Long before David and I met his life had been a challenging one filled with depression and frequent suicidal ideation. Neither the drugs he ingested nor activities he undertook seemed to help with the relentless feelings of sadness and doom that filled his whole body and occupied most of his waking thoughts.

One day a good friend – a man who had successfully overcome 22 years of chronic alcoholism – sat down with David and shared his belief that each of us owns all of our emotions at all times and that it is possible to change our entire persona and, in so doing, reorganize our internal biochemistry, by committing to certain new behaviors and doggedly sticking with them.

This was David’s first introduction to The Habit of Emotional Ownership and as much as he viewed his friends statement with strong cynicism he was desperate and willing to try anything that might offer him hope for a new life. He began doing exactly what his friend encouraged him to do.

Many times throughout each day he would pause to ask himself a simple question, “What am I focusing on right now, what am I feeling right now?”

Most often the answer was the same. He was thinking negative, self-critical thoughts and feeling – in his own words – “mega crappy”.

At that moment he would do as his friend had insisted and force himself to do three things. Firstly, he would direct his focus to past experiences when he had been having fun and had been feeling happy. Secondly, he would make statements attesting to his own greatness – “I feel fantastic, I am awesome, I am happy, my life is amazingly wonderful and filled with joy”. Thirdly, he would get up and move his body in ways consistent with what we all do when we feel powerful and strong.

He would stand tall, make his body as big as possible by pulling his shoulders back, pushing his chest out and walking with meaning, purpose and intent.

At first David felt this to be a “monumental waste of time” but he had made a commitment to his friend that he would do this as many times each day as he possibly could for 100 days.

During those 100 days there were many times when doing this exercise was the last thing he felt like doing and each time that happened he would open the piece of paper his friend had given him and read out loud the famous quote from Calvin Coolidge.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved, and will always solve the problems of the human race.”

And a strange thing happened.

David noticed that over time when he asked himself that very important question, “What am I focusing on right now, what am I feeling right now?” The answer, increasingly frequently, was positive, inspiring and accompanied by strong feelings of joy and happiness.

What had started out as a chore simply to meet an obligation made to a friend became a habitual part of David’s everyday routine until the day he realized that by repeatedly doing what he had been doing he had created a new “default” David – a new way that he felt most of the time.

And so by the time he and I met several years later, this story had become a part of his distant past and his habit of asking himself that all-important question throughout each day ensuring he spent most of each day in his “default” state has created the David I’ve always liked and whose company I have so enjoyed.

To David, The Habit of Emotional Ownership is as much a part of his life as breathing and his love of life is infectious.

He is proof positive that The Habit of Emotional Ownership is not a myth but an irrefutable, indisputable fact and that the first step in creating the life we want for ourselves is to adopt this habit into every cell in our being.

Can’t think of any reason not to, can you?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

161. If we don’t own our emotions, who does?

Sometimes the most powerful of life’s lessons are the simplest ones and while the word simple may suggest easy to grasp, it does not necessarily mean easy to live by.

Such is the case with The Habit of Emotional Ownership.

The Habit of Emotional Ownership is the gateway to our personal power – that omnipotent sense within us all which determines whether we live our lives as victims or victors.

By adopting The Habit of Emotional Ownership as our own we bring into our lives a basic tenet that is elusive to most as it shatters the myth that many live by; a false belief that our emotions are the result of what happens in our lives.

Many sadly believe that we live in a cause-and-effect world which means that we are, at all times, at the mercy of forces outside of ourselves and that our emotions are caused by events over which we have no control.

A simple example, familiar to all who drive, is the experience of being cut off in traffic by a car suddenly veering in front of you forcing you to take some form of preventive or evasive action and leaving you frothing in fury.

Those of us who have had such an experience – which means all of us who drive – tend to place responsibility for the anger we feel squarely on the shoulders of the “f****** a******” behind the wheel of the offending vehicle.

In truth, that driver had as much to do with our rage as the tooth fairy – nothing.

The Habit of Emotional Ownership instills in us the unswaying conviction that we own each and every emotion we feel and also serves as a constant reminder to us that our personal power – our God-given right to self-determination – can never be adversely influenced by others, or by forces outside of ourselves, without our willing cooperation.

The Habit of Emotional Ownership means:

If you’re down – it’s you.

If you’re sad – it’s you.

If you’re stressed – it’s you.

If you’re happy – it’s you.

If you’re ecstatic – it’s you.

If you’re euphoric – it’s you.

Grasping onto The Habit of Emotional Ownership with both hands and promising yourself you’ll never let go, is also the most liberating gift you could possibly give yourself and one that will forever change the course of your life.

Owning our emotions is not forsaking them. Ownership of our emotions does not mean we cannot feel sad at times and down at times and helpless at times but what it does mean is that we understand and acknowledge that at those times we are experiencing those feelings, not because of what is happening in the world around us or in our own lives, but rather because those feelings are the ones we have chosen to best experience those things in those moments.

The word perspective, more than any other word in our lexicon, sums up the quality of our lives as best explained by this memorable quote from the late Wayne Dyer, “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”

The opposite of The Habit of Emotional Ownership is victimhood, which is the sorry state from which we blame other people or events for our emotions and justify those sad feelings by convincing ourselves that they are our only choice.

Accepting The Habit of Emotional Ownership for the truth it portrays is not without challenge and will at times test the conviction of all of us, but once ingrained, it changes our lives forever by granting us a sense of calmness and freedom that victimhood can never compete with.

And living life as a victim is not living life at all.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S.

Finally, after months in the works, my company’s new website is up. Please take a moment and visit www.strategicpathways.net . Browse through this site and then click on the “Contact Us” tab or tellmemore@strategicpathways.net  and let me know what you think.

Your opinion truly means a lot to me.

Thank you.

160. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.

Dictionary.com defines desire as; a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment.

Desire is no stranger to any of us and if we wish to truly understand the power behind The Habit of Insatiable Hunger, we need also understand the role that desire plays in our lives.

Imagine for a moment a horizontal line, a continuum. On the extreme end of the left side we measure desire by the words, Nice to Have.

On the other extreme, the right side we measure desire by the words Must Have.

Now let’s look at the difference that positional placement on this continuum has on the probability of success and the effort we are likely to unleash in pursuit of this desire.

Let’s say, for example, the incompetent drycleaners have once again shrunk your pants – your favourite pants – and the only way to fit into them is to shed 20 pounds.

Losing 20 pounds is something you desire. The question is how badly do you desire it?

Look at that continuum and ask yourself this question: how important is it to me to lose those 20 pounds.

If there was a gauge or slider attached to that continuum you could move to exactly the position that represents the strength of your desire, where would you place it?

If you place it close to the words Nice to Have, you are essentially saying that it would be nice if 20 pounds magically dropped off of your frame but that you are neither willing nor likely to put much effort into making that happen.

If, on the other hand, you move that slider to the end of the continuum right on top of the words Must Have, there is not likely a force on this planet that will prevent you doing whatever it takes to lose that excess weight.

People who have made The Habit of Insatiable Hunger a part of their DNA are those who chase their desires with the passion, enthusiasm, fervour and determination that this habit brings into the lives of all who adopt it.

The Habit of Insatiable Hunger means that you easily and frequently place your desires at the Must Have end of the continuum and the relentless gnawing pain of fire in your belly drives you ruthlessly in pursuit of your desires.

The Habit of Insatiable Hunger separates those who play at something, dabble or tinker from those who are all in and determined to win at all cost and never give up regardless of how difficult the struggle. There is a moral to this story. We all have things in our lives we desire and, in terms of importance, those things range from the Nice to Have end of the continuum all the way to the Must Have.

If we really want to assess our chances of success of turning desires into realities we really must, with brutal honesty, examine where that desire is placed on the continuum and then understand the continuum for what it is – a mirror of truth.

The further our desire is positioned away from the Must Have end, the lower the probability that we will stay on the pathway necessary to achieve it.

If The Habit of Insatiable Hunger is not driving our desperation and determination to succeed, then perhaps our best course of action is to treat our desire is a Nice to Have and hope that it will become one of the few Nice to Haves that do actually fall into our laps with no effort on our part.

But don’t hold your breath, waiting.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S.

Finally, after months in the works, my company’s new website is up. Please take a moment and visit www.strategicpathways.net . Browse through this site and then click on the “Contact Us” tab or tellmemore@strategicpathways.net  and let me know what you think.

Your opinion truly means a lot to me.

Thank you.