How do you want to feel? Choosing your emotional state

In an earlier post on managing ‘Lag-Time’, I wrote about what I see as one of the most powerful ways to master our mind and achieve true personal freedom. This is something I teach most of my patients – it is that important. By reducing our ???Lag Time??? to zero we can finally exercise our freedom to choose and behave in a way that is conscious, a way that we choose, rather than being driven by old unconscious programming. (Lag Time is the time between when we trigger one of our old unconscious programs and when we realise we have done so.)

The other key to mastering our mind and making the most of our power to choose is to use this power of choice to focus our attention on how we want to feel. Whereas reducing our Lag Time is about taking control over what we do, the focus here is on taking control of how we feel. (Can I say at this point that I not talking about people suffering with intense grief, acute anxiety or clinical depression here – in those states we have little influence over the way we feel.)

So, how does it work? In any moment, we will feel certain feelings depending on which thoughts or feelings our mind is focussed on. Whatever we focus our attention on will simply expand in our awareness – in simple terms, we will feel more of it for longer. So, if you are focussed on that embarrassing thing you did earlier, you will feel, and expand, the negative feeling that went with it. If you are focussed on how productive you felt when you were working on that project at work yesterday, you will expand that positive feeling.

Now here???s the rub. From what I see in my psychiatric work, most people seem to ???forget??? they are the masters of their mind. Indeed, I think our mind wants us to forget this ultimate truth. Why? Because it???s easier. One of the hardwired, very old programs in our minds is to find us the easiest way forward. Helpful for trekking up mountains and down valleys, not so helpful in running our emotional world. It was Eckhart Tolle who reminded us that our mind is just a tool, not the master. Like a hammer, we need to pick it up when we need it and put it down after we are done.

Your mind needs to be told what to focus on. Remember, whatever you focus on will expand in your awareness. Choosing what to focus your mind on is your primary responsibility as a human. This ability to choose our attentional focus separates us from other animals ??? so make the most of it! At any one time you could focus on a whole range of different thoughts or emotions that are hanging around in your mind. Take a moment to notice which ones are available to you. For some people they will feel more comfortable focussing on concrete thoughts, for others of you the focus will be an emotion.

You will find all kinds of thoughts and feelings hanging around if you let your attention wander over what is happening in your mind. Think back over the last few days. Think about what???s coming up in the next few days. If you wake up in the morning feeling warm and dozy, focus on that feeling, hang on to it. If on awakening your mind wants to focus on what you did wrong yesterday, think about it long enough to learn the lesson it is wanting to teach you (???Next time I will handle that situation this way ….???) and then choose where to focus your mind next. (Or, if your good at managing your mind, you might say, ‘Not now mind, I will come back to that later – make sure you do, or your mind won’t believe you next time!) Don???t struggle with your thoughts, instead simply choose which thoughts or feelings you wish to connect too. These are the ones you will amplify. Some people prefer to focus by thinking thoughts about it, others by simply connecting to the feelings ??? whatever works best for you.

To really master this you will need to check-in throughout your day. Yes, this takes more effort but then there???s that reward … feeling better. What price that? Oh, and by the way you deserve to feel better!!

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