How to Navigate our Feelings and Emotional Balance

Lori Jackson
Feb 21 · 7 min read

Emotions are powerful, and understanding how to navigate our feelings is one of the most useful things we can learn. Their influence over us is impressive, and when we recognize their driving power, we can leverage that knowledge to make the changes we want in ourselves and our lives.

Thoughts do create feelings, but that doesn’t mean we want to feel good 100% of the time. It doesn’t indicate we only want to think happy, positive thoughts.

Our brain desperately wants to create a 50/50 experience where we feel good 50% of the time, and 50% of the time, we experience something negative. It does this by modifying, calculating, and adapting without any cues from you.

Initially, this 50/50 experience can feel like a bit of a bummer, but it is actually a relief when you start looking at life this way. We live in a society where we have false pleasure and various ways to escape negative emotions. We have this idea that we are entitled to feel good all the time.

When we remember that 50% of the time, we’ll feel something negative, then we can stop trying to escape or being afraid of our emotions. Feeling bad doesn’t mean your life isn’t good.

Negative Feelings

Negative feelings — sometimes referred to as dirty — are considered emotions like fear, anger, disgust, sadness, rage, and loneliness. Each of those feelings has a purpose, and so learning to recognize and allow them is part of being emotionally healthy.

When someone we love is struggling, we want to be sad. If we witness a terrible injustice, we should feel anger, rage, or maybe even disgust. Those feelings have a place given the circumstance.

If I read a story in the news about a missing woman and her children, I would want to feel sad and allow those natural emotions for a while. I’d feel appalled and might think, “That’s terrible. I hope those kids are okay. I hope they find the woman, and I hope she’s okay, and I feel so badly for her mother, who is probably worried sick about her.”

All of those thoughts might be creating feelings of fear, and I want to allow those thoughts. The more I try to resist them, the stronger they will become. Understanding how our thoughts create our emotions is empowering. When you know you are the creator of all your feelings, it allows for change. It doesn’t mean you consciously look at every single thought and navigate every single emotion. But you get to choose when you’re ready to be done with those feelings, and then if you want to generate certain emotions, you can.

Actions and Results

Growing up, I believed if I wanted to accomplish something in my life — if I wanted to change something, to get the results I was looking for, I just needed to take some kind of action. And once I had that result, I would feel better. It’s so common to think; action → result → feeling.

Let’s talk about some examples:

Action → I will pay off my debt.

Result → positive net-worth.

Feeling → financial freedom, peace, or relief.

Action → eat less and exercise more.

Result → ideal body weight.

Feeling → loving and accepting of myself.

Action → clean my house.

Result → a clean house.

Feeling → relaxed, focused, peaceful.

Action → going back to school.

Result → earn a degree.

Feeling → confident to apply for a job.

Sometimes we cut out the part where we take action because things just happen. People around us use their agency in things they say or do. Certain events occur. Circumstances in the world happen. It wasn’t necessarily us taking action, but we still believe it was the result and then the feeling.

For instance: someone does something special for me, and then I feel gratitude. My daughter makes a choice I like, she chose what I hoped for, and then I feel relief. Someone compliments me, and then I feel confident.

Feelings First

So the key in every one of those examples is instead of waiting to feel good, you’re going to try to generate those feelings and emotions before you take action.

Let’s look at some of the examples above and first focus on feeling, then action, and results.

Feeling → financial freedom, peace, abundance.

Action → pay off debt.

Result → positive net-worth.

If I first decide to feel financial peace, freedom, and abundance, and then I pay off my debt, I’m much more likely to find the way and take the action necessary to succeed and have a positive net-worth.

Feeling→ loving myself.

Action→ eat less and exercise more.

Result → ideal body weight.

If I first work to love myself and then I work on eating less and exercising more, I’m 10-times more likely to get to the result of the ideal body weight.

Feeling → relaxed and peaceful in my home.

Action → clean my home.

Result → enjoy my clean home.

If I decide to feel relaxed and peaceful and focused in my home and then I go clean it (cleaning it is a lot more fun from that place), I’m a lot more successful and confident about getting the clean house in the end.

Feeling → confident in my abilities.

Action → go back to school.

Result → earn a degree.

If I decide to be confident about my abilities and proud of myself, and then I go back to school, think about what a better experience I’m going to have at school and what a better student I’m going to be as I earn that degree.

Feeling, action, then result. In other words, choose to be happy and fulfilled first, then go work hard, and you’re much more likely to succeed.

Now, in those other areas where somebody else does something or something in the world happens, and when we feel an emotion, it’s just important to know that you don’t have to wait for those things to happen to experience any of the emotions you want to feel.

You can feel gratitude before somebody comes and does something nice for you. You can feel relief even before your kids make a decision, even if they never make the decision you want. You can feel confident without anyone complimenting you.

We are always are the creator of our emotions first. Even though it feels like I did that thing, then I got a result, and then I felt good, it’s not what happened.

We did the thing, we got the result, and then we believed a different story, and we thought different thoughts, and that’s why we felt good. We just didn’t permit ourselves to believe the story until we’d done the thing.

We don’t have to wait for the result. We don’t have to wait to get to the end goal to feel what we’re trying to feel. We can experience it right now. And the way you feel emotion is by the story you’re believing. The story you believe is either a frustrating one, a heavy one, a shame-filled one, a resentful one, an overwhelming one, or a peaceful, confident, loving, and fulfilling one.

Navigate our feelings

Navigating our feelings is not what you do that makes you feel better; it’s the story you started believing once you did that thing you did. Start today by accepting the story first. You can generate emotions by finding a story — it has to be a believable one — a story that generates the feelings you want first.

What do you need to think and believe to generate gratitude? If I start noticing the little things I usually take for granted, I can create tons of gratitude that feels good and useful.

How do you generate confidence? You are already amazing. It’s not about being better in any way. It’s just choosing to believe you already are. Heavenly Father created you, and He didn’t make any mistakes. He did a fantastic job on every one of us.

What about generating abundance? You have to believe there’s enough. There’s enough money, and there’s enough time. There genuinely is. Abundance is an emotion. It doesn’t come from how much money you have, and it doesn’t come from how much time you have. It comes from what you believe about how much you have and your ability to get what you need.

How do you generate happiness? Try starting with thoughts about Heavenly Father and connecting with him in a certain way. Reading our scriptures and prayers create a powerful and essential form of fueling everything else we’re doing in life.

Takeaways

Keep these concepts of emotional balance and navigating your feelings in your back pocket. Pull them out any time you’re trying to achieve something; any time things aren’t working, any time you’re not getting the result you want.

We have to retrain our brains. We don’t want to lose the part of our brain that protects us from danger, but we want to create a balance by looking out for abundance and gratitude. Knowing how to redirect the brain helps us leverage it in a way that’s the most useful. Maximizing the results we want to get in this life.

This life is an experience designed to help us progress. That’s why we all aim and seek to improve. We strive for growth. If we’re not growing, we feel it. We feel dormant like something’s wrong. The discomfort of stagnation can be painful.

As we go through this life as human beings, we have some growth and development that happens as we mature and as our brains develop and evolve. Then we have lots of opportunities beyond that to continue growing, and that is the goal, to continually grow and practice progressing into the next version of ourselves. What we’re capable of becoming is beyond what we can even imagine.

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