Wednesday, June 7, 2017

LOVE POWER

Love increases endorphins – (you may know this). But that’s not all love does to us. Love also increases nitric oxide, (no, not laughing gas –that’s nitrous oxide – confusing I know!) Nitric oxide reduces blood pressure, improves blood circulation, and decreases clotting as it relaxes your arteries. In the brain, love activates areas associated with motivation, focused attention, making positive choices and taking care of yourself. 
Love also deactivates pathways in the brain responsible for negative emotions such as fear and social judgment. Aside from being an explanation for why we say 'love is blind', it also explains the many reported acts of heroism and kindness by ordinary people in recent terror attacks and disasters here in the UK. 

There are many different types of love (seven according to the ancient Greeks) but they all release chemicals and activate specific parts of the brain that propel us to connect, to care, and to take caring action. Of the different types of love studied over the centuries, the love of humanity, selfless love or what the Greeks call Agape, is often referred to as the highest form of love and I imagine that this is the type of love we see expressed in distressing times. It is the antidote to terror and facilitates clear and values-based thinking. Feeling such love gives us more clarity of mind and forward-thinking insights than any of the fear-based rhetoric we are also currently exposed to. Love in its highest form is not a touchy-feely approach, it actually makes us smarter. This is a biological fact*.

When I was seventeen, I read the first of what would become an endless array of books and papers on the subject of love, ‘The Art of Loving’ by psychologist Erich Fromm. It inspired a lifelong fascination with the subject in its many forms, a fascination which is just as strong today as it ever was, not least because of the one factor that has been present in every single book, study and paper: that loving is part of the inherent human condition. We are innately programmed to love in all its forms, whether physiologically, neurologically, or otherwise by some means we have yet to discover. Fromm famously claimed that love is not something that just happens to us, it is a decision we make.

So, in this time of hate and self-interest all around us, to feel love and compassion for the victims of horrendous acts of terror and violence is a no-brainer and for most people comes quite naturally, but how, you may ask, can we ‘make the decision’ to sustain those feelings of love in the process of seeking solutions, when it feels so much more natural to slip into anger, even fury? I admit, it does take a conscious intention, and a decision to refrain from what feels like the ‘natural’ path. Ironically, acknowledging the anger and other emotions you might be feeling is the first step, regardless of whether you choose to channel those emotions into a more positive force. However, acknowledging doesn’t mean getting stuck in the emotion. It is equally important to ask yourself whether the emotion is working for you; i.e. is it depleting your health or enhancing it; fogging your brain or helping you think clearly and creatively; is it helping you achieve the outcome you want?

Making that observation and then making the decision to change to a more productive, constructive emotion (and yes, you can change what you feel), to channel the emotion into a positive force, that decision is the first and most important step you can make. The choice and intention to act from state of centred love, must surely be the only way forward.

A famous quote by Jimi Hendrix might be an appropriate conclusion: “Only when the power of love overcomes the love of power will the world know peace.”

*For references and information on research please email us at office@AppliedEmotionalMastery.com


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

THE SHE CODE

        
          "Something is rotten in the State of Denmark'" so says Shakespeare's fictional character Marcellus in 'Hamlet', and for some reason this sentence keeps popping into my head. It seems eerily relevant to the current state of (almost) our entire world. The way most people feel on a regular basis - whether while on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or otherwise taking in the latest news bulletin - is unsafe, untrusting, and uneasy. It has gone beyond the remit of this blog, beyond issues of emotional intelligence and mastery (or lack thereof). However, we at Applied Emotional Mastery™ feel compelled to address it anyway, because it IS about emotions and the inescapable ramifications emotionally, of governance, of all leadership. But it is also beyond any one person or ideology. It is the result of a system of leadership, a code of governance that has created a world where hyper-individualism trumps any form of collectivism (no pun intended!), where outward-focused consumerism has become a value, where social isolation and alienation has taken the place of trust and community. This world we have created today is the result of a failed and imbalanced leadership approach, a governing system that, although it plays out in many different political forms around the world, is essentially one system; a system that has been in place for thousands of years, (so you can’t say it hasn’t been given a fair chance!) In fact for more than five thousand years we have prioritized and lauded a masculine paradigm of leadership, by means of patriarchy and other assorted devices of domination. This system has valued - and still values - ‘power over’ versus ‘power with’, physical strength over emotional resilience, thoughts over feelings, logic over intuition, materialism over relationships, measurable achievement over all-inclusive fulfilment, individual success over collective development. 
      Enough already! It is time to change, time to accept we need a different leadership approach. I mean really different – NOT just another patriarchy with a different spin. We need to step outside the limited box of possibilities created by patriarchal thinking and open up to a wider view, one that gives equal value to both male and female qualities.

         To us working in the field of human emotion and development, the obvious first step is to create more balance in our approach to leadership. This does not mean more women in leadership positions or looking at all the other popular feminist actions steps (valuable though these all are), but to look at the inherent value we place on the feminine and the perceived feminine qualities. It does mean to reclaim and restore the formerly undervalued and suppressed leadership qualities; the power of emotional understanding, empathic thinking, affirmative connection, collaborative communication, and appreciation of cycles – all of which are rooted in an increased value of feminine wisdom, and of which we are all capable, men as well as women.
         Historically, these so called ‘feminine’ attributes have been undervalued and perceived as less important than their ‘masculine’ counterparts, especially in leadership, which we believe is at the core of solving our global challenges. For these qualities are those that build human resilience, create mutual care, nourishment and support, and provide collective strength and buoyancy in the face of any and all adversity. They are traits we need to not only recognize as vital, but consciously cultivate as equally important as the qualities that give us assertiveness, ambition, competitiveness and absolutism that we currently give precedence to.
         Having worked for more than a year now exploring and identifying these feminine qualities and principles, we have coined them collectively as the She Code (a ‘code’ being defined as a system of principles that represent or determine a specific behaviour or approach.)
         Currently we are working on offering an ontology for a practical way of leading and being in the world that fully values our yin, archetypically feminine qualities in all of us – men and women – equally with our more masculine qualities, our yang. We want to unearth what has been dormant and undervalued, to illuminate how we are innately designed to have more coherence and balance in our lives, more emotional literacy, more empathic thinking, more listening and collaboration, and more acceptance of difference, -both individually and collectively-. None of this is either ‘political’ or divisive but rather, giving equal value to all of our innate positive qualities will show how we can live with greater harmony and humanity.

         It’s a big ask, and we don’t begin to pretend to have all the answers, but we can possibly contribute to the conversation with more practical applications than are currently on offer, and through the lens of emotional management that is far too infrequently addressed, (or even admitted, far less considered!)
         So watch this space as we explore the SHE CODE, and how, if we can employ ALL our inherent capacities, masculine and feminine, with equal value it will be for the benefit of all.
And if you feel aligned with this and have a comment, question, or would like to contribute to the conversation, please get in touch!
                                                      Jennifer Day and Melissa Rivera                                                                                    http://www.appliedemotionalmastery.com/contact



Thursday, November 24, 2016

CHANGE!

Change is in the air, (or so I hear!:-)) It’s becoming quite a familiar cry and more than a few people report feeling unsettled – whether by the change itself, or by the perpetual revolutionary promises swirling around them with no evidence of any positive outcomes likely to be felt any time soon! But change is clearly wanted, and needed, on a scale that most of us feel we have no control over. As we approach a new year, we may take some comfort in our desire to make some personal adjustments for the better, since personal changes are ones that we do have control over (right?). This is the time of year is when our good intentions propel us to consider -and even make- one of those resolutions that will give us the results we want, (although strangely, they seem to need repeating year in year out ……….)

Change is hardly ever easy – whether we’re trying to make it ourselves or it is imposed upon us. Charles Darwin once famously said; “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.

Many studies have shown that the ease with which we can adapt to change indicates our level of emotional intelligence, and I must admit I have seen evidence of this both in my own life and in the lives of many of the clients I am privileged to coach. The findings are quite clear: in every area of life, the more insight one has into human nature, –- in other words, the more self-awareness and people skills one has –- the more likely one is to be successful at implementing and handling any change. Simple but not always easy.


One approach to change I have found to be helpful was developed by psychologist Paul Watzlawick, author of CHANGE (1974). He found that there are two significant types of change, which he referred to as First Order Change and Second Order change. In short, when the change occurs within a system that itself remains unchanged, he called it First Order Change. On the other hand Second Order Change is when the incidence itself changes the system. An example might be a nightmare in which you’re being chased: if you find yourself running away from something scary in the dream, regardless of how many times you change direction you continue to be chased – there is no real change. This is First Order Change. With Second Order Change, your awareness of the fact that you’re having a nightmare would lead you to wake yourself up, thereby ending the bad dream – in other words ‘the system’ itself changes.

Similarly, in our wakened state when we keep trying to make changes from a purely behavioural, action-based approach, we are not necessarily changing anything permanently. However, when we take charge of and manage our emotional state, change the way we feel, our perspective also often changes, which can in turn alter the entire meaning we give to the situation – and when that happens, any change we make as a result, is likely to be more manageable and sustainable.

How this can help the world at large is a question way beyond my political know-how – but as it applies to each one of us personally, it can, I believe, make a considerable difference to how we handle changes we need to make, or whatever change is thrust upon us! And in the words of Viktor Frankl;“When we are not able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” One way we may be able to do that is through managing our emotions so we respond according to our values and what we can do to move forward positively.




Sunday, July 17, 2016

THE EXPECTATION GAP

Do you ever feel that what you’re chasing, what you desire, is just out of reach? When you think of your desire for your future, and your intentions for yourself, whatever you are working towards, do you ever ask yourself whether you fully expect it to be fulfilled; do you really believe it can happen? Do you believe you are actually ‘good enough’ or that you deserve it - or maybe not quite?

Try to imagine having achieved your desired state. Is it easy? Does it feel natural and right? Or is it difficult? Your deeply held beliefs or the emotional expectations you have may not be the same as your desires and intentions. If there is a gap between your desired goal or intention and your expectation of actually achieving it, this will influence your actions both consciously and subconsciously, because the choices you make and the steps you take will always be driven by your emotions and emotional expectations. The greater the gap, the more your actions will interfere with you achieving your desired intention.

Author and teacher Deepak Chopra says; ‘Within every desire and intention are the mechanics for its fulfilment’. I have seen countless indications of this being true, but I have also learned that it requires the alignment of emotional expectations with the desired intention, and the first step is being able to feel the feeling of the desired intention – fulfilled.

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you can actually generate that feeling, in your body, as if your wish was already fulfilled, you will find that expectation gap gradually decreasing. The more you generate this new 'fulfilled' feeling, eventually integrating it so that it is with you throughout your day, the smaller the gap will become. In essence you are moving from feeling and thinking about the desired result to feeling and thinking from it.


To explore this idea (and how to use the power of managing emotions) further, or for more information, contact us!