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How to Change Emotional State (EVERYTHING I Wish I Knew Sooner!)

mindfulness Apr 30, 2020

In this blog post, I'm going to be walking you through how to change emotional state step-by-step, and pretty much sharing with you everything that I wish I knew sooner.

The main premise for this topic, I could go in a few different directions with this, but I basically just wanna share with you everything that I wish I had known in the past when going through depression, anxiety, anger, resentment, all of the above.

In the past, I didn't know anything about emotional states, or that you can actually change them pretty easily once you understand where emotions come from, and also how your body position and your body posture literally affect your emotions.

Watch the video below!

We're going to be using a combination of both your body positioning and also where you place your mental attention, and by shifting that attention to focus on something else.

When you do both of these things together, you literally can impact your emotions, and you can take yourself from a negative emotional state into a more positive or at least neutral state, very quickly and easily.

I really want to address why so many of us get stuck in an unwanted emotion.

It's super important to understand why and how this happens because when you know how this works biologically on a brain-based level

It's going to really help you to be able to move into a more positive, happy, relaxed emotional state even faster.

Before getting into the step-by-step, it's really important that we first clarify how negative emotions become created. 

The first thing that I wanna clarify is that most of us are not taught as children that we have any control over our emotions.

As kids, most of us are taught that we're victims of circumstance, that we just have to make do with what we have, that we have to just suck it up. 

I also notice sort of a culture these days of a lot of people that appear to be really enjoying complaining about their lives. And I really wanna emphasize that this is all programming.

It's a subconscious program, which means that it's a habit, and you most likely learned to think this way when you were a kid, and it just carries with you into adulthood.

For example, as a little kid, you probably got more attention when you complained and whined, from your parents, from your teachers, from whoever.

I know that I definitely did. I learned pretty quickly as a kid that if I threw a fit, that I was more likely to get attention, and that my parents were more likely to give in to my demands.

As kids, this is how negative emotions start to become programmed subconsciously, because our brain starts equating a negative emotion, like complaining for attention or whining, to a reward.

And the reward is in the form of attention from an authority figure, from your parent or from your teacher.

The parent or the teacher isn't realizing that they're actually rewarding this behavior, because parenting is hard, right?

I don't have kids, I'm not a parent, but I can imagine that a lot of the time, you probably just want a break and you want your kid to chill out a little bit, right?

Essentially, parents, it's really easy for them to reward the negative behavior.

But when that happens repeatedly, the child's brain starts to form a neuropathway for that behavior, and the more that that happens, the stronger the neuropathway becomes.

Until it starts firing off automatically, and at that point, that negative emotional state becomes a habit.

And so this is all happening subconsciously.

The reason that this gets programmed in the brain so easily is because when we're kids, we are essentially in a state of hypnosis.

From the ages of zero to seven years old, a child's conscious mind isn't activated yet. It hasn't fully developed yet.

Kids literally go around the world from the ages of at least zero to seven in a state of hypnosis.

Their brains are literally in a theta brain wave, which is a hypnotic state.

You're going around the world as a kid, and your brain is just absorbing all of the millions of data points that are coming in from your environment.

From all of your interactions, with your parents, with your other family members, with other kids, and your brain is just intaking all of that data.

Because the conscious mind isn't activated yet, it's not able to decide what is good or bad or what is true or false for them.

That is how it's so easy for a child's brain to become programmed in a way that it promotes unwanted or negative emotions just because if that's what you're taught from your parents, then that's what's gonna happen.

Another way that negative emotions become programmed in the brain is when you instinctively react as part of a fight-or-flight response.

If you are subjected to stressful situations, or uncomfortable situations, or dangerous situations, then your brain goes into fight-or-flight mode, and it gives you anxiety, depression, it lets you react in a way that is going to protect you or help you.

Negative emotions do have some sort of positive benefit to them in the beginning.

But the thing here is if that happens too many times, if you are repeatedly subjected to stressful situations or uncomfortable situations or dangerous situations.

Then your brain starts to build that neuropathway for that emotion, and it becomes deeper and deeper in your brain, until the point where it starts firing off really easily.

That is how you can have to experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, low self-esteem, worrying a lot.

Whatever it may be, that's how those negative emotions can start to seep into your everyday life.

Because your brain has become so accustomed to it, and so your brain starts giving you that response, and you start going around your everyday life sort of stuck in fight-or-flight mode.

Even though you're in a situation where you're no longer under immediate threat, you are safe and there's no real logical reason to feel that way.

But it's because your brain has become used to it, and it's essentially giving you that response on a regular basis.

This is how negative emotional states start to become automatic, because your brain has essentially programmed this and is now perpetuating it in environments where you're actually not under any immediate threat.

And for some people, this negative emotion can lead to becoming your dominant emotional state, which is why so many people are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder or depression or PTSD or adrenal fatigue.

Because your brain has learned that those emotions were providing you some sort of benefit, they were protecting your from something, and then your brain essentially starts perpetuating that.

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Now that you have this foundational understanding of why you may be experiencing negative emotional states frequently or in certain situations, we're now going to use that knowledge to help you change your emotional state and move out of a negative emotion, whenever you're feeling that way.

I have broken this down into very straightforward steps, so let's dive into those now.  

1. To identify what emotional state you are feeling.

So is it depression, is it stress, is it worry, is it anxiety, is it anger, is it fear, it is confusion, is it helplessness, whatever it is. 

2. To remind yourself that it's your brain that is creating this emotion.

Your brain is causing you to have this mental and physical response, and so step two is to just simply remind yourself that your brain is creating this emotion for you automatically and that it's actually happening on autopilot. 

3. To disassociate yourself from that emotion.

Now that you've already reminded yourself that it's your brain that is causing you to feel this emotion, this step is all about detaching yourself from the emotion, intentionally detaching yourself from it.

So if you think about it, you are not that negative emotional state.

You aren't anxiety, you aren't stressed, you aren't depressed, you aren't anger.

You wanna think of the emotion as a separate entity.

There's you, and then there's the emotion that you're experiencing, and they aren't one and the same. You weren't born stressed, you weren't born anxious.

There's who you truly are, and so it's really all about taking a step back and taking a pause, and really viewing that emotion from a third-party perspective, and so step three is all about really disassociating yourself from the emotion and detaching yourself from it.

Now that you've detached from the emotion.

4. To shift your attention to something that brings you joy, gratitude, or love.

The reason that we wanna shift our attention to joy, gratitude, or love is because when you're feeling those positive emotions, it's actually impossible for you to experience a negative emotional state simultaneously.

When you feel joy or when you feel gratitude, or when you're really feeling love, the brain can't also make you feel stressed or anxious or worried at that same time.

This is all part of the formula for shifting your attention into a more positive emotional state.

What I really would like to encourage you to do is to actually think of this ahead of time.

Start to think right now, what do you wanna shift your attention to, any time you're in a negative emotional state and you're wanting to really work through it to help move yourself out of it?

Some examples are, if you wanna feel joy, maybe you feel joy when you think about your pet, your dog or your cat or your hamster, or whatever it is.

Maybe you feel joy when you think about your kids, or you feel love, or when you think about your spouse or your grandkids or your nieces and nephews.

Or maybe you just get a lot of joy when you watch a certain TV show, maybe it makes you laugh, or maybe you really love a certain video game.

It really doesn't matter what it is. Anything that can just, makes you smile on the inside when you think about it.

If you're having a hard time thinking of something that brings you joy or love, then I want you to focus on gratitude instead.

We all have something to be grateful for, whether that would be clean water or just the fact that you have shelter, you have a safe place to live.

Or maybe just the fact that your lungs are breathing and that you have clean air to breathe, or that you're just alive at all!

These are all things to also just be grateful for.

Come up with something right now, and I just encourage you to maybe even write it in the notes on your phone, because if you have it written down, you'll be able to more easily remember it when it's time for you to shift your attention and help yourself move out of that negative emotional state.

You can even, if you're feeling that negative emotional state and you don't remember what it is, you can just open up your phone and there's your reminder of what to think about, okay?

Step number four is to shift your attention to something that brings you joy, gratitude, or love. 

5. To change your physical state.

This is all about your body posture. Neuroscience research shows that changing your body positioning also has an impact on your emotions.

The way that your body posture is throughout the day is actually impacting how you're feeling every single day.  The type of state that we wanna make is one that is open, relaxed, and occupies space.

Because when we change our physical state, we can change our emotions! You can do this either standing up or sitting down.

If you're standing up, you wanna have your legs hip-width distance apart and put your hands out on your hips and stand up really tall, and just focus on your breathing, really focus on the inhale and the exhale, for about two minutes

And when you stand like this and breathe like this for about two minutes, research shows that this actually increases testosterone levels and decreases cortisone levels in the body, which means that you feel more confident and relaxed.

If you can't do this standing up, you can also do this sitting down.

If you're sitting, just plant your feet flat on the floor and sit up really tall and put your hands on your hips. And just do the same thing, breathe for about two minutes, and you will feel more relaxed and more confident.

The whole purpose of this is to have an impact on our emotions by changing the state of our bodies.

On top of changing your posture, another thing that you can do is smile. When you intentionally smile, this sends a signal to your brain, which then produces a powerful chemical reaction, which leads to you feeling much better.

When you smile, you're essentially tricking your mind into thinking that you feel better than you actually do.

The reason that this works is because when you smile, your brain isn't bothering to sort out whether you're genuinely happy or whether you're just pretending!

The brain doesn't really care! It just automatically gives you the chemical response, which leads to you having lower stress levels, and it also ends up lowering your heart rate.

On top of changing your body posture, you also want to smile, because then you're getting that dual effect between your brain sending you more testosterone and decreasing your cortisol.

And then also, with the smiling, it's decreasing your stress levels at the same time.

Okay, now there's one more step left after this, but first, let's just do a really quick recap of all of the steps that we've covered so far.

Step 1. Is to identify what the negative emotion is.

Step 2. Is to remind yourself that it's your brain giving you that emotional response.

Step 3. Is to disassociate and detach yourself from the emotion.

Step 4. Is to shift your attention to something that brings you joy, gratitude, or love.

Step 5. Is to change your physical state.

Do that power pose, and smile for about two to five minutes while you focus on your breathing. And that now brings us to step number six, which is to choose how you want to feel.

You now get to choose what emotion you wanna have, so what is that? Do you wanna feel anxious, or do you wanna instead feel relaxed?

Or do you wanna feel stress-free, or do you wanna feel happy, or do you wanna feel confident or content, or just carefree, free-spirited? Whatever that is, you get to decide.

We have the power of choice, and so just as kids, we weren't taught that we get to choose what our emotions are.

Now you know that you actually get to decide. And so you don't have to stay stuck in that negative emotional state.

You can actually decide how you wanna feel and move yourself out of it.

If you've found these steps helpful, then go ahead and click the link in the description box below, because I put together a free PDF cheat sheet, where I've summarized all of the different steps on how to change your emotional state.

And I recommend that you even maybe save this on your phone somewhere, so that you can easily reference it any time that you need to. 

Remember, you can transform your mind and your life. I believe in you, and I'll see you in the next one.

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