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Tag Archives: secret of emotional control

I get it. It’s difficult to maintain your enthusiasm about work/life/everything when things still seem pretty bad. Every day, we’re bombarded with grim news stories and reminded, yet again, of how dire things are for the planet and for people on all corners of the earth. Plus, many of us are still working from home and trying to balance work and life (kid’s soccer games, doctor’s appointments, keeping a clean house, etc., etc.) as best we can. It can all feel…overwhelming. So how can we possibly wrangle our emotions and convince ourselves that we’re happy or energized?

Well, here’s the thing about emotions: Even if you have to fake a certain emotion for a while, you’ll eventually feel it.

Before I explain, let me offer one important caveat: This advice does not pertain to people struggling with depression or other serious medical conditions. It is meant for those who are simply overwhelmed, feeling a little listless, or could use an energy boost.

That said, let me explain the concept of “fake it until you feel it.”

Essentially, when you want to feel a certain emotion—joy, confidence enthusiasm—do your best to mimic that emotion, and you will eventually genuinely feel it. Amy Cuddy suggests standing in a “power pose” for a few minutes before going into a big meeting to boost your confidence. Similarly, if you’re feeling a little low and want to boost your happiness, smile! Feel your face brighten and your body lift.

This advice isn’t just a “nice idea.” It’s rooted in neuroscience. According to psychologist Michael Schreiner, “…the barrier between external reality and internal reality is basically nonexistent. For example, scans have shown that you can feel happy and therefore smile, or just contort your face into the shape of a smile whether you feel happy or not, and your brain will respond the same way, releasing the same chemicals.” In short, it is usually possible to trick your brain into feeling whatever you wish to feel.

And that is powerful. It means your emotions are somewhat in your own hands.

So, what to do with this newfound knowledge?

First of all, understand that you have power and control. Your emotions are your own, and you can bend them to your will. Once you realize that, you can begin to “fake it until you feel it.” Smile when you’re having a lousy day. Act energized even when you’re feeling drained. Exude confidence even when you’re feeling timid. By putting your best foot forward and simply trying, you spark something in your brain. You begin to think that maybe (just, maybe!) things aren’t so bad. And you begin to gradually feel better.

This is all part of establishing a healthy emotional pattern. It may not be easy at first to get into a healthy, positive mindset, but the more you practice, the easier it will be. So, practice! Make a concerted effort to feel more joyful, positive, enthusiastic, or confident and see if you can trick your brain into actually embracing (not just faking!) these emotions.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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