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Transform your Mind

Last month we saw that trying to control, numb or repress our emotions does not work. We have to feel, accept and transform them. By being conscious of our emotional state, we can develop our empathy, sensibility, and therefore our intelligence. Business always boils down to relationships and trust.

Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to feel our own and others emotions, identify the source of the emotional state, and be able to choose our response. Emotionally intelligent leaders know emotions are contagious and influence team mood and productivity. Empathy and humor can reshape an emotional situation, de-escalate conflict and help move toward consensus on how to handle a challenge.

Our dominating thoughts create who we are. It is therefore essential for a leader to encourage positive emotions as dominating forces, and discourage negative emotions.

Amygdala hijack
Intense emotional circumstances can trigger a “fight-or-flight” response. When this happens, there is little or no ability to think logically and make decisions using sound judgment. When we feel threatened, the thalamus bypasses the cortex and sends that perception directly to the amygdala. The amygdala is the emotional memory part of the brain.

The amygdala reacts similarly to the threat of being eaten by a tiger as to an imagined emotional threat. Adrenalin and hormones are released into the bloodstream. We are ready to react automatically, facing or escaping the danger. Whereas, this survival function has been very useful to keep us alive for thousands of years, it does not serve us well when the danger is symbolic. The hijack prevents us to think rationally and choose the best way to respond.
More on Amygdala hijack.

Feeling negative is an opportunity
Any painful emotion comes from the past, usually from our childhood as it is a period where we were quite sensitive, dependent and vulnerable. When we grow up, we have experiences and begin to split them up into the ones we like and the ones we dislike. All these choices are stored in our memory to avoid potential hurts. We tend to imagine what an experience will be, before it has happened.

It is an illusion to believe an emotion is linked to a present situation. The actual situation reactivates an old emotional charge linked to our past. The painful emotion is a repetition of previous behavior, a bad habit, a functional strategy created in the past but now outdated, merely a hindering.

Feeling negative is a symptom that some energy is refusing to move inside us. When you feel frustrated, when your mind races with ideas or you experience some restless anxiety, you know something must be stuck. Shock, terror and fear can actually paralyze us. Think of all the times we block out, deny, reject, blame and/or resist. These actions whether mental or emotional show that we are stuck. Any conflict we cannot resolve, as well as indecision and the inability to commit, are much the same.

When we experience a negative emotion, it is an opportunity to free ourselves, and heal our unconscious mind. If we continue to believe the emotion comes from the present situation and is somebody’s or something else’s fault then we cannot transmute it and we lose our freedom to act differently.

New research shows that our brain changes its structure and function in relationship to experience. This is called neuroplasticity. A key part of neuroplasticity is the role of attention and learning; it requires a mental effort to change the way you are wired.

Being aware of your feelings is putting attention on yourself. Focus is essential for leaders. Meditation is simply training our focus. Every time we notice our mind wander and bring it back into focus, we muscle our attention.

Our default responses may be wired into us, but with time, effort and practice, we can literally change our brains. We can exercise choice and transform unhelpful habits.
More on neuroplasticity.

Transmute emotions
To dissolve or transmute emotions, one shall be conscious of the emotion, accept it, and feel it without judgment. It means putting our attention not on the outside (the person or situation that triggered the emotion) but on the inside (what is happening inside you). For instance, next time you are angry, just feel the enormous energy present in your body. By being conscious of the emotion you stop projecting it on the other or the situation. Once you stop to entertain the emotion, it appeases and quickly transmute into dynamic energy. This surprising metamorphosis is the emotional alchemy.

Being aware of your breath is one of the simplest ways to be in your body. When we have a strong emotion, our heart beat faster and our breath accelerates and become shallow. By focusing on our breath, and consciously slowing it into longer and deeper breaths, we stop giving energy to the emotion.

Look forward to cultivating keener attention to yourself and others, and being more connected to your own intuition. Feeling your emotions give will to act and faith to realize yourself.

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