When did you start believing your emotions will hold you back?
“I was always told to think, not feel. To plan, not dream. It’s as though I was brainwashed that thinking and logic were always the answer. I was told to think about my future, not follow my passions. But how was I supposed to think the right way when I felt overwhelmed and hopeless? Why was I told that my emotions are the enemy?”
I understood exactly the frustration expressed by a reader who reached out after finishing my book, ‘Feeling Forwards.’ I’ll share how I responded to my reader at the end of this article but first, what led him to believe his emotions couldn’t be trusted? And was he right?
There have been thousands of books written about Positive Thinking, Mindset, Habits, Goal Setting, Daily Structures, Magical Morning Routines. But how to feel your way to success, how to harness the power of your emotions? Not so much. I can find thousands of books written about morning routines but very few about choosing your emotions before starting the day.
But surely, it’s better to focus on thinking rather than feeling right? Wrong.
If you could think your way to success and happiness, it would be easy to carry out every New Year’s Resolution and stick to every good intention. Clearly, that rarely happens.
Despite all the ‘positive thinking’ literature, research for my first book ‘Secrets of Cancer Survivors’, revealed it wasn’t just thinking but being able to create positive emotions during a dark time that was the golden thread running through every survivor’s story.
Years after I wrote this book, I was introduced to Kelly Turner, Ph.D., creator of the Radical Remission Project, revealing cancer patients often inexplicable recovery from a grim outlook of less than 25% survival rate. Dr Turner echoed the importance of emotions not just thinking on the road to recovery.
She told me, “Feeling confident is stronger than a thought. It’s rock solid and reaches into your core. You can’t create that just through thinking — you have to surrender to your emotions as well.”
But doesn’t thinking create feelings? Don’t thoughts always come first?
The latest cognitive neuroscience research reveals that a thought, an emotion and a choice are created within a split second. This is so much more ground-breaking than it sounds! Because it means you don’t have to think about your feelings before you have them. You can choose your emotions just as quickly as you can create a thought.
What I share in ‘Feeling Forwards’ is that emotions can empower decisions, just as much if not more effectively than thinking. Let’s say you have found a guide to a Morning Routine that looks incredible. You excitedly read the glowing testimonials describing the incredibly powerful life changing results. Inspired, you are all set to start the next morning.
The alarm goes off and you……. just don’t feel like it. And that fabulous morning routine? Just never happens.
You can’t make strong, confident decisions if you’re not feeling strong and confident.
But do your emotions really have that much impact?
A recent article by Elizabeth Bernstein appearing in the Wall Street Journal talked about the latest scientific findings showing us that kindness can not only rewire your brain to reduce negative thoughts, being kind can lowers stress levels, you’re less depressed, less lonely and happier. Being kind is even related to better cardiovascular health and living longer.
How can you increase the emotions you want?
Taking kindness as an example, the research also revealed repeated acts of kindness works like building a mental muscle, growing stronger with practice. Just like scheduling a workout, choosing time to focus on others so it becomes a powerful part of your day. One of my ‘Top 5 Questions to create your best Future’ that I ask myself each morning is ‘who can I be kind to today?’ and this daily practice is transformational.
How did I respond to my reader?
Your emotions aren’t your enemy. Your emotions create the ability to feel hopeful, to believe you’ll get there despite what anyone else thinks and that somehow, it will all work out.
And finally, it’s the magic of moving beyond thoughts to feeling the future you want is just around the corner.
Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself.
Go forward and make your dreams come true.
Ralph Waldo Emerson