Yellow!

It’s Wednesday the 4th of July, happy birthday MERIKA! On this post I’m bringing a topic that is very relevant to us entrepreneurs. Emotions. More specifically an understanding around “emotional agility” and how to persevere in spite of more challenging emotions.

Okay, well maybe us toughest of the bunch aren’t supposed to feel them but I think for the healthy us we need to not only be capable of experiencing emotions but better yet, develop a method to best operate with them.

You see if you’re really going 10x on your life/work/goals, then you’re going to be experiencing fear. Maybe even a LOT of fear! Unless you’re a sociapath the reality is you’re experiencing some. BIG goals are supposed to be scary! They’re supposed to EXPAND your mind beyond its limits. You have to dispense doubt, and the analytic “how will I get there” thoughts to really draft up those lofty targets.

And once you’ve written down those targets you can bring in the planning to work towards them.

That said there’s a large percentage of potential entrepreneurs in the crowd who struggle with fear. And who can blame them, most of us have grown up with very conservative, usually stable families and upbringings. Taking risks, moving through unknown industries with a plethora of options for every step along the way is overwhelming. Add to that an often a lack of income, potentially gnawing doubt and all those negative feelings can be compounded.

We’re biologically programmed to listen to our emotions. They’ve allowed you to come into existence through hundreds of millions of years of evolution and danger avoidance. They’re insanely powerful and can be equally helpful.

But here’s the kicker, your conscious goal-striving, human part of your brain is much younger and newer piece of hardware. It came into the picture WAY after you already had these biological mechanisms that generate and create your emotions.

Let’s take a quick side tangent to put this into some more perspective and look a bit at the Triune Brain Model. This model essentially breaks down through evolution the primary parts and functions of the human biology and helps us better associate how they interact.

Reptiles (Survival / Reproduction) -> Mammals (Limbic) -> Humans (Prefrontal Lobs)

If you look at a human brain you can see three very distinct parts that evolved after each on top of each other. Without going into too much detail (this would definitely require a video series of its own) our older “Reptilian” Brain Stem is where we get the sensations that are generated in the nervous system. Things like “gut feelings” and “nervous shaking” all come from there. The Limbic brain allows us to connect with other human animals through emotions. And the prefrontal lobes give us logic and analysis.

If you remove the prefrontal lobe of a human’s brain they can still function and live (albeit sometimes severely impaired in analytical abilities).  BUT if you take a piece out from the more ancient parts the we are rendered incapable of functioning and die. So these older pieces of our biology, the reptilian and mammalian sections of our brain and critical to our survival.

I share this to give some context that our body is literally built on parts of a more ancient system. Also to let you know as much as you’d like to be “fearless” or “unstoppable” you’re still going to feel negative emotions. By the way, check out In an Unspoken Voice by Peter Levine if you want to spend hours reading about the theories of Triune and emotions.

So all that said, you have and are built on emotions. They are critically required. Sorry if you were hoping there was some way to completely obliterate them, but there isn’t. Then what’s the deal with this “emotional agility” why are we talking about it?

Well, despite the sensations and negatively labeled emotions you do feel there’s quite a bit you can do to manage and move through those experiences to be “unstoppable.”

So now that we’ve discussed this notion that you are probably going to experience more challenging emotions and your biology is encoded to give them to you to keep you existing and procreating, what exactly can we do about it?

Well there’s A LOT of strategies for dealing with them, but I’m going to focus in on the primary one, which is probably the foundation where you can then build skill learning the others.. And that’s developing agility.

A lot like training an athlete who would do f0r agility, emotional agility training involves a few things:

1) First off developing the conscious cognitive understanding (what we’ve been discussing) that emotions are emotions and that you don’t necessarily need to react or flee when you experience them.

2) Second off, realize that as much as you’d like to tame and control them you may experience more difficult and challenging emotions often. And that’s totally okay and a clear indicator that you’re human. And that fear and negative emotions are actually shown to be powerful drivers towards success and helping us achieve what we want. Although I don’t encourage drumming up these emotions for the pure sake of experiencing them having them for shorter periods of time can build up strength and resilience that can absolutely allow us to lean further into more challenging experiences that will bring about those emotions.

In fact a lot like exposure therapy, after you’ve touched the snake a few times it can get easier to then hold it. Again you’re building up an imprint in your mind that I’m not going to die by doing this, that I’m totally fine.

3) Now here’s a critical piece. Remember that energy flows where focus goes. Once you realize you have a negative emotion, visit it long enough to analyze if there’s any action that needs to be taken. If you can’t determine any action then it may simply be the alarm of growth and stepping outside the comfort / safety zone.

Once we’ve identified and gone through the problem, you now want to point the ship in the direction you want to head, IN SPITE OF THESE SIGNALS OF DISCOMFORT.

Overall through focusing on what you do, modeling those who have already achieved that, and changing up your approach investing massive amounts of focus and action in that direction you will get to where you want to go.

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