Understanding Emotions
So You Can Put Them To Work

Understanding emotions helps you control your future!

Human emotions are felt reactions to what is going on within or around you.

They influence

  • what you see and don't see
  • what you say
  • how you speak and listen
  • what actions you can and cannot take.

If you don’t understand how emotions work or how to control them, they can lead you to say and do things that put at risk things you care about. Like your health, your relationships, your career, or your business.

Understanding Emotions: Part One

It’s a common assumption that how we feel is due to what happens to us or to the way others treat us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your feelings are always a product of your own choosing. How you interpret events dictates how you feel. This is the first thing you need to know to improve your understanding of emotions.

For example, suppose someone driving a rusty pickup truck runs a red light and T-bones your new car. How you feel about what happened will influence how you react and the results your reaction will produce.

Should you assume the truck driver is reckless, you will feel angry, and speak and act toward him angrily. You can’t behave otherwise because your anger won’t let you. It’s hard to be civil when you are seriously ticked off.

But in acting out of anger, you might say and do things that land you in the hospital, with a broken nose, or in jail, charged with assault. Now your health, your job, and your career are at risk.

Suppose you feel happy you weren’t seriously hurt. You remember the traffic lights were not working when you entered the intersection. You see the truck driver as a human being who is an innocent victim like you.

You speak to him as someone who survived a close call. You ask if he is okay. You do your best to ensure the police don’t blame the truck driver for what happened. Your feelings of gratitude for being alive motivate you to be cooperative instead of hostile.

So if you could be either angry or happy after crawling out of your car, who or what is responsible for how you feel about the accident?

Understanding Emotions: Part Two

How you choose to make sense of the accident determines how you feel about it. This is the second thing you need to know to improve your understanding of emotions.

Your emotional life does not automatically depend on what happens to you or on the way others treat you. It depends on what you decide events "mean".  Is the driver an idiot or a human being? Is he reckless or an innocent victim?

The language you choose will determine how you feel, what actions you take, and what kind of results you get.

That’s why understanding emotions is so important to your success. They are generated by your perspective, your way of looking at things. The stronger your emotions are, the more they steer you toward some behaviors and away from other behaviors.

If they move you toward behaviors that jeopardize what you care most about – your commitments- the consequences to your success could be costly.

What is your understanding of emotions? What do you think causes you to feel the way you do about yourself? About your spouse or your family members or your co-workers?

Take a look at a list of basic emotions and identify the ones you experience most often.

How do you think your feelings influence your relationships, your performance in the workplace, or your business success?

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Understanding emotions

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