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, 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 permanent.

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.”




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!

Monday, March 7, 2016

CAN WE CHOREOGRAPH EMOTIONS?



It is said that money makes the world go round. I beg to differ. In my observation emotions make the world go round. Human emotions drive everything – from anger or fear-driven acts and the worst hatred induced atrocities, to deeds of unbelievable courage or compassion, and the most divine acts of love. All human behaviour is driven by emotion. 

The word EMOTION comes from the Latin e-movere, meaning to move out or through, as in propelling movement, a force set in motion. The originators of the word must have been acutely aware of the dynamic, stirring energy created by human feelings, energy moving through body and brain, constantly shifting, shaping our thoughts, our actions, and our lives. Much like dance moves and dancers shape a ballet or dance piece, although that might seem a lot more orderly and graceful than our emotion-driven behaviour. Or is that necessarily so?

A dance piece or ballet can look organized and seemingly effortless because it is choreographed. But can we really choreograph emotions? Can we choose what we feel and manage our emotions so we are in control of how they move through us, and how they come across to others?
Some may argue that this is impossible because emotions are often triggered without our conscious knowledge. However, my experience has been that it is not only possible, but hugely beneficial (and there are plenty of studies supporting this.)

So how do we choose our emotions? 
We begin by noticing – paying close attention to what we are feeling and where in our body that feeling registers. The more we take our attention out of our busy minds and connect with our bodies, the more we are likely to notice physical tension from emotions, tensions registered there because our emotions live in our bodies. Such increased awareness gives us early warning signs of unhelpful emotions, which in turn allows for much easier self-management – we can assess whether the indications of a potentially strong emotion are appropriate to the situation, and if not, whether we need to take steps to change how we feel and adopt another perspective. For example, we may feel irritated by several small events in the morning, but with our renewed awareness of the resulting say neck tension, we can take some deep breaths or otherwise release that tension and regain a more balanced perspective, rather than blowing our top in the evening having allowed it to build throughout the day until it has become full blown fury.

This is the beginning of what I refer to as emotion choreography. And like a full-length ballet or dance performance, there are numerous steps that contribute to the mastery of emotional management – and all are extraordinarily satisfying to master, including and especially the interactive ones, for as a species, we are also driven to connect with each other, at a very basic level. We actually have a specific brain circuitry that directs our response to one another’s bodies in motion! Imagine for a moment watching a trapeze artist flying through the air; don’t we all feel the soaring sensation as well as the excitement? When we see a physical fight, don’t we wince at the blows? When we feel someone’s emotional pain, it’s not merely the expression on their face we mirror, but their bodily posture, and the emotional tension they emit. This empathic capacity is something most of us could, if we are honest, manage better. We can actually learn to ‘choreograph’ our emotional responses so we allow less of our own judgment and opinions to interfere with our empathy, with our ability to truly step into someone else’s shoes, making us better able to offer the support that’s actually needed (rather than being driven by our own agenda).

The most powerful of all the steps of the choreography of emotions is the feel-good factor; when we enhance and strengthen our ‘emotional capital’ by fully embracing our positive feelings; the exuberance of sudden inspiration or the peace of a quiet walk, the pleasure we feel when we watch a dancer or athlete move gracefully or our wonder at seeing beauty in nature, the delight of witnessing a child’s first steps, or the feeling of happiness in a loving interaction. If we give ourselves permission to fully relish those pleasurable feelings, savouring them for that little bit longer, enjoying them with our entire body, we strengthen the ‘muscles’ that ultimately give us more of a choice about what we feel, taking crucial steps towards being in charge of our emotional dance, to create ‘choreography’ we will, most likely, review favourably.