Want To Strengthen An Emotion And Change Your Behavior? Just Your Intention and Mental Rehearsal May Help!

Years ago, I learned that I could direct my emotions. You can, too. I invite you to try it.  First, put a paperclip on your knee. Focus on it and tell yourself to feel “love” for it. Feel the love. Pretty interesting, huh?  Now, try shifting to anger. If you try, you can even feel fear as you focus on that little paperclip.

That you can direct your emotions is old news. The new news, according to neuroscientists’ research, is that “mental rehearsal”--a repeated focus on a feeling such as love, anger, or fear--can make lasting changes to structures in your brain and body! 

An example of mental rehearsal comes from the University of Wisconsin (Psychological Science 2013).  This research suggests that a daily focus on being loving and compassionate affects pathways in the brain and reinforces those feelings. Equally as interesting, the research shows that this daily focus also changes behaviors, which become more loving and compassionate. 

Along the same positive lines,“compassion meditation” was the subject of a recent study from Emory University. This is where you spend time focusing on your desire to develop feelings of compassion and kindness for others. As a result of this compassion meditation, subjects’ ability to read the facial expressions of others increased.

The takeaway is that the awareness of a feeling and simply focusing on your desire to develop that feeling can activate the neural circuits responsible for producing it thus creating or strengthening it. 

Of course, what is true for positive emotions, is also true for negative ones. For example, noted researcher Candace Pert points out that your repeated focus on a negative emotion such as fear or disgust can lead to addiction to that emotion.

It’s the old law of sowing and reaping. (Whatever you put out there, gets you more of it.) It would seem that based on neuroscience research the old law has become the new law. 

So what about you? Will you spend a few minutes each day focusing on some positive emotions and memories... on what you feel grateful for? If you do, the likelihood is that you will strengthen the brain pathways and connections that produce those positive feelings and get more of them.

If, however, you have trouble finding and focusing on the positive, you might be interested in how to overcome the things that block you. I invite you to take a look at Become the Person You Were Meant to Be  The Choice-Cube® Method: Step by Step to Choice and Changehttp://amzn.to/Ug268G. You can retrain yourself, change, and grow to engage life more fully. You can also check out my website to learn more about the method.

2014 Choice-Cube Publications LLC. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, (including on the World Wide Web), in  whole or in part is encouraged provided the attribution Choice-Cube Publications is preserved

Negative Emotions: The True Story

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Negative emotions are normal. A daily part of life, they warn and often protect us. But negative emotions can also be dangerous and destructive. The difference depends on how long we allow them to hang around. 

NEGATIVE EMOTIONS: FRIEND OR FOE?    A negative emotion can warn a child to avoid a stranger. But if that child fails to understand his fear and begins to automatically fear anyone who is different, well, that’s another matter. Then fear is no longer a friend but an enemy. Failure to understand and let go of a negative emotion is the problem, not the emotion itself.

5 WAYS NEGATIVE EMOTIONS CAN HURT US     Negative emotions we hold onto hurt us in five major ways. First, they use up energy. Second, they lock in painful and distorted thoughts and mental pictures. Third, they can lead to unhelpful behaviors. Fourth, they keep us in conflict. Fifth, they can lower our immune system and our ability to fight off disease. As Woody Allen implied in a film, he didn't deal with his feelings, he stuffed them and grew a tumor instead.

WHAT TO DO?    What’s the answer? Simple enough. We must stay aware of our negative emotions, acknowledge them, and let go of them safely and appropriately. By "safely and appropriately" I mean without playing the victim or deliberately hurting others. This is a learned skill. We can train ourselves to do this.

I have been a counselor/therapist in private practice for twenty plus years, taught graduate students at George Washington University, and recently published my first book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube Method http://amzn.to/uHGKQ5I would love to share with you what I have learned about the skill of managing negative emotions. Visit my website www.choicecube.com.

Body? Emotions? What Are They Telling Us?

OUR BODY SPEAKS TO US    As a therapist/counselor, more and more I am struck by the importance of the body. A stiff neck can tells us that we slept in an awkward position. In the same way, a body pain may be telling us we have painful emotions that we are failing to deal with, and that something is wrong.

BUT WE DON'T LISTEN     Many of us miss what our body is trying to tell us. We have learned to split off from our body's messages about stress and hurtful emotions. Why? Why would we ignore important messages whether physical or emotional? Because they can hurt! And who wants to have discomfort or pain?

THERE'S A PRICE TO PAY     But we pay a high price for ignoring what our body and emotions try to say to us. Unless we acknowledge that something is wrong, how can we  fix it? 

THIS MIGHT HELP     Of course it helps to have a tried and true way to deal with our feelings, physical or emotional. The simple tools and steps in my book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be, The Choice-Cube Method: Step by Step to Choice and Change www.amazon.com can help.
                                                                                                                                                               In the book, I discuss the dangers of failing to pay attention to physical and emotional messages. I help you understand how important it is to have choice and make necessary changes. Take a look at the book; it could make a big difference