This is the final article in an extended series on emotional mastery. From an explanation of emotions through to concepts of physiology, patterns, energy and persistent states, this has been a detailed series on how you can gain control over one of the most important factors of your life, the way you experience it. Whether you have a great life and simply want to experience an even greater quality or you are surrounded by despair and negativity, everyone can benefit from working on their own emotional mastery.
Emotional Mastery (Series)
This article, Putting it Into Practice, is the final step in emotional mastery. Up until this point I have tossed around a lot of techniques and philosophies for greater emotional control but without the means to really implement them. Because true understanding comes through action and not reading, I hope that this article can give you the advice you need to actually start practicing and improving your own emotional mastery.
Ironically, the way to gain better control over your emotions is to put yourself in more situations where you feel a lack of control. Mastery of anything comes from practice and experience. Without consciously seeking out the experiences that push your emotional control to the limit, you can’t improve.
With techniques such as physiology control and pattern interrupts that you have already learned, you are armed with powerful weapons in controlling your emotions. Without proper training, however, these tools are effectively worthless. Just because a saw can make cutting easier, if you don’t practice it won’t help. Similarly, the power of these techniques come from using them repeatedly.
The best place to start practicing your techniques is to look for situations where you have trouble controlling your emotions. If you get fearful or nervous when speaking up in a group, join Toastmasters. If you get overwhelmed when in a large group, start going to more social events. If you get angry whenever someone argues with you, try joining a group where people try to intelligently debate issues.
Parts of emotional mastery are general and others are specific. What this means is that improving your mastery in one area can help you when approaching new areas. However, each situation is unique enough that unless you are properly exposed to it, some challenges can arise. Someone who studies drawing may have an advantage when trying to paint, but the two disciplines are different enough that practice is still required. So pick areas to improve your mastery, but vary these situations enough so you are continually pushing outside your comfort zone. If you are currently great at Toastmasters, try joining an improv comedy club.
This concept of practice fits nicely into the idea of emotional energy. As I mentioned in that article, emotional energy improves through cycles of stress and recovery. The more practice and stress you experience in the real world the greater your capacity. So instead of avoiding stress, fear or anger, confront these negative emotions directly so you can handle them. As long as you can recover your emotional energy in between expenditures, you will improve.
I entitled these articles, Emotional Mastery, for a reason. All mastery requires training and practice. A karate student going for her blackbelt, a teacher lecturing to his students or a sprinter training for the Olympics, all of these disciplines are forms of mastery which can’t be immediately improved with a few tricks overnight. But with the right instruction and practice success can occur. Given the extreme importance emotions weigh in our lives, I would say it is worth it.
Solutions for the Long-Term
Short-term emotional mastery is all about handling situations of extreme, but temporary emotion. Long-term mastery requires you focus more on improving the reality that creates those emotions. In the short run it is often easier to change you emotional state than it is to rapidly reconstruct your environment. In the long run, however, the opposite is true, slow changes to your life are easier than tricking your mind into being happy or fulfilled.
As with short-term emotional mastery, the key to success over the long haul isn’t to avoid feeling bad, but to push through it. Emotions are signals from your brain. If you are feeling bad it is simply because your brain is telling you something is wrong. Depression, extreme pessimism or even just a bad slump are all signs from your brain that you need to change your life.
As discussed in the last article, the key to long-term mastery is in visualizing and grounding a new reality. If at all possible, use goal-setting techniques to give your visualization greater detail and specifics. By visualizing a new reality and then working towards making it real, your brain will reward you with happiness and fulfillment.
So get out there and start practicing. Create your new vision of reality and start working towards it. Along the way make sure you use of physiology and patterns to safely navigate the new terrain. Keep your emotional energy high by recovering often. Emotional mastery is a lofty goal, but even small steps towards it can have huge rewards. Good luck on your own path to mastery.