Intentional Living: Generating Emotions Ahead of Time
How are you is a question that is frequently asked by rote and usually responded to in the same manner. Generally, we respond using one of the following well-known phrases: I’m good, I’m fine, OK, still alive, hanging in there, can’t complain… Our emotional vocabulary may not feel so limited—but it is.
Most people would not respond by saying, “I’m amazing, loving life, never been better!” This has everything to do with our conditioning and lifestyle habits. Clearly, responding from a place of neutrality and/or pessimism has become a default habit.
Most people don’t get adventurous when it comes to emotions. They also don’t like to experience uncomfortable emotions, AND I’m going to go so far as to say that most people don’t understand the concept of generating emotions ahead of time.
For this reason, I would like to venture into this topic, to help you to better understand emotions and how to select what feelings—yes, how to choose which emotions—you would like to generate rather than just experience them as they arise.
I love this topic; in fact, it excites and ignites me because I know what is possible when you inject energy-generating emotions into your life… ahead of time.
To get a sense of just how transforming this can be, think how writers can take us to such exquisite places using their curious minds and sophisticated language. We can get swept away by enticing narratives and captivating scripts. But what about entertaining the possibility of creating your own enticing narrative filled with your personal intentions, goals, and future vision?
To begin let’s differentiate between two categories of feelings: energy-generating and energy-depleting. Courageous, optimistic, productive, inspired, and motivated are all examples of energy-generating feelings as they energize you. Fearful, pessimistic, confused, disillusioned, and disempowered, on the other hand, are examples of energy-depleting feelings as they clearly drain you of your energy.
Imagine for a moment a dressing or change room where you could sample from a wide variety of clothes—of all different styles, fabrics, and sizes. Now imagine a change room where you could sample from a wide range of emotions—of every different frequency and vibration.
If you walked into your very own emotional change room, do you have any idea which emotion you would want to try on first? Think about it this way. What is the default emotion that you currently wear that you would most want to change: Anger? Fear? Unworthiness? Now, think about your top three emotions that you wear on a regular basis and get curious about replacing any of them with new ones that will suit and serve you better. Don’t just think about the big emotions, try to think about some of the smaller and more specific ones.
You see, to change your life you have to be able to decide who you want to be, what you want to believe, and what you want to do ahead of time. Otherwise, life just happens to you. If you want to move from unconscious victim to deliberate creator, then you have to take ownership of your life and do the inner work.
The incredible thing to note here is the process of transformation. The only way to change your essence is by beginning with your thoughts and feelings. It’s new thoughts that can lead to new feelings AND new feelings that can generate new thoughts. Together these fuel new stories that drive new actions and change the results of your life! This is the gift of mind training.
Even before I stepped into my career as an author, speaker, and coach, I knew that I had to determine what I wanted to feel ahead of time: confident, creative, and worthy. This would ensure that people would leave my workshops and coaching sessions feeling empowered, intrigued, and motivated to act.
To generate these feelings I knew that I would have to start thinking that I was good enough and credible enough, that my curriculum was relevant and valuable, and that I was a gifted writer, a dynamic speaker, and a wellness expert.
Does this mean that I went around boasting these details and living from a place of arrogance? Absolutely not. But this was an essential part of my new inner narrative—of the new script that I was building first in my mind based on how I wanted to feel in order to create the results that I wanted in my career.
Stories can be changed and new results can be achieved using this method. This is essentially how it works: You have to think about the result you would most like to achieve and then select the emotions that will drive your actions and the thoughts that, in turn, will fuel those emotions—AHEAD OF TIME.
You have to try them on and see how they feel. I’ve heard it said that there is no such thing as a fake thought, there’s only a thought that you don’t yet believe. So you take the thoughts and emotions and you practice repeating them and believing in them. And eventually, after mentally rehearsing them enough, they too can become your new default habit.
This is what we call deliberate or intentional living and it allows you to create what you wish already existed. And it is something I wish that I had learned in school!
How motivated are you to change your life? Would you be willing to experiment with your emotional vocabulary? If you would, then what’s the best emotion you can imagine feeling? When you try it on, how does it change you? Does it make you want to do great things?
This method can be used for both long-term success, such as my earlier career example, as well as for short-term success, as in this next example. A few days prior to my recent root canal, I set the intention to feel courageous, trusting, and capable, instead of anxious and fearful. I mentally rehearsed these feelings and associated thoughts ahead of time and did my best to believe this was possible for me. During the procedure, I incorporated all of these feelings into my experience and, amazingly, it turned out to be a very positive one!
Think about something that would normally leave you feeling stressed and anxious and then try this method out. Walk into your emotional change room and set the intention to select from the wide range of energy-generating emotions; try replacing the stress and overwhelm with something new. Do something today that your future self will thank you for. You’ve got nothing to lose—and so much to gain!