October 18th, 2017 •
Comments Off on Negative Emotions Are Action Signals
Are you aware that every emotion has a message for you? So, even though negative emotions can be painful, they can also be your best friend. You can use negative emotions to immediately change the quality of your life. If you want to master your emotions, use them as a “call to action”.
Negative emotions can be a signal for you that you may need to change things. You can either change your perception or change your approach.
Change Your Perception or Change Your Approach
No matter what negative emotion you feel, you can get out of this feeling in a heartbeat. Any time when you experience any negative emotion, the first step is to identify the “Action Signal”. The Action Signal is the message that a particular negative emotion has for you. Then, when you have clarified the Action Signal, you can take action by either changing your perception or changing your approach. You change your perception by changing how you look at it or what you focus on. You change your approach by changing how you are responding in the situation.
10 Types of Emotions
Tony Robbins distinguishes between 10 broad categories of emotions:
- Fear – scared, apprehension, concern, terrified.
- Hurt – a sense of loss.
- Disappointment – defeated, sad.
- Anger – irritated, livid, resentful, rage.
- Frustration – being upset, easily annoyed or angered.
- Uncomfortable – impatient, distressed, uneasy, mildly embarrassed.
- Guilt – feelings of remorse or sadness.
- Inadequacy – not being good enough, unworthy.
- Overloaded – overwhelmed, depressed or hopeless.
- Loneliness – the state of being alone and feeling sad about it
Let’s turn the above group of emotions into Action Signals. So, instead of letting ourselves getting controlled by these emotions, we’ll use them as signals to take action. That action can either be to change your perception or to change your behavior.
Questions that you can ask yourself whenever you feel a negative emotions are:
- What else could this mean?
- What can I learn from this?
- How do I want to feel?
- What would I have to believe to feel that way right now?
- What am I willing to do about it right now?
Now, here is what the Action Signals mean:
Fear – Fear is a signal to prepare ourselves to deal with something (threatening) that’s about to come. Fear can be real or imaginary, if the fear is unfounded then change your perception and let it go.
Hurt – Hurt is a signal that things didn’t turn out as you hoped for or you have a sense of loss. First you need to evaluate if there really is a loss. Then change your way of communicating your needs, change your perception or change your behavior.
Disappointment – A feeling of dissatisfaction when a certain outcome or expectation you had won’t happen, and you need to change your expectation. For example, maybe your expectation was not realistic or your timeframe was too short.
Anger – This is a signal that somebody else or maybe even you has violated an important rule that you have in your life. Adjust your rules or clarify them. Your rules may not match with the rules of others, so be aware of this.
Frustration – This is a signal that you’re unable to change or achieve something and you feel upset or annoyed about it. You need to change your approach to achieving your goal.
Uncomfortable – Feeling uncomfortable is a signal to change your state. Find out what you want and take action in that direction.
Guilt – This is a signal that you violated one of your own standards. Simply said, you feel guilty when you do something wrong. Don’t stay in guilt, instead let those feelings motivate you to change your behavior so you don’t make the same mistake or negative choices. Be aware that you can’t change the past, but you can change your present and future behaviors. It’s also important to recognize when you’re feeling guilty when you shouldn’t be. If that’s the case then change your perception, and let it go.
Inadequacy – Inadequacy is a signal that you need to take action to get better. Or maybe your rules are too harsh and you should change them. There is no such thing as perfect – you only need to start taking action to improve at whatever it is.
Overloaded – This is a signal that you need to reevaluate what’ most important to you right now. Prioritize your list, distinguish between what’s a desire vs. what’s necessary. Once you have a list, just chunk it down, one step at a time. Take control of events instead of let them control you.
Loneliness – The is a signal that you need to connect with others. Find out for yourself what sort of connection you want: somebody to laugh with, basic friendship, somebody to have fun with, a romantic partner, somebody to listen to you, etc. Then change your perception or change your approach.
What I like about this perspective on negative emotions is that rather than just simply suppress or dismiss them, it’s about embracing them and using them to create action. It’s about empowering yourself to make meaningful changes in your life, and to make the most out of any negative emotion to avoid spiraling down and stewing in your own juices. You are in control of your emotions instead of letting your emotions control you.