The latest in the emotional world is that we are not actually at the mercy of our emotions after all. You are the creator of them, well at least your brain is, according to Lisa Feldman Barrett anyway. She reckons that emotions are our brain’s best guesses according to the information they have to work with. Basically, using past experiences, your brain predicts and constructs your experience of the world. The good news is that we have more control over these guesses than we realise.
In coaching we explore this concept under the topic of projection. Projection describes the process of how we give meaning to the information coming to us. It’s what our brains do, make meaning out of situations or hazard a guess, if you prefer that terminology. It’s a unique process not without it’s limitations.
Here’s what I mean. Someone says something to you and along the path of you receiving that information, processing that information, and making meaning out of that information, it becomes something else entirely. Sound familiar? Robert McCloskey summarized it perfectly, “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
Sometimes even when you are really, really sure someone did or said something... they actually didn’t. Or if you think they are a certain way, they’re really not. You just made it up because that’s how we humans roll!
Right so where to now? How do we start transforming our emotional life into something more along the lines of what we want. The bad news? It's not going to happen at the click of your lovely fingers.
It takes effort and awareness to change the meaning you are giving to the sensations you experience and the conclusions you draw and have been drawing since time began. It is, however, possible. If you start paying attention, even to the most obvious triggers that set off an emotional reaction within you, the insight gained will help you start the process of drawing different conclusions.
So, if you’ve found yourself kissing way too many frogs recently, shake things up a bit. Do it differently. Get curious and see what happens. Say no where you would usually say yes, say yes, when you tend to say no. Give your brain some new information to work with and start believing that you can. It’s as good a guess as any!
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I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.
Read more about me here.