Harnessing Emotions

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How many times have you started a new activity with a burst of enthusiasm, only to feel that initial loss of motivation? This often leads to depression and causes us to give up prematurely. I have experienced this letdown dozens of times myself; fortunately, with a bit of thought and reflection I was able to turn this negative emotion around.

The key to harnessing our emotions is understanding them. The natural pattern of human emotion is peaks and valleys. When we start a new project we are filled with tremendous optimism. All we can think about is the expected benefits and since we have not started yet, we are not aware of the difficulties involved. This natural high causes a surge of mental and physical activity. The peak is a great thing because the energy boost gets projects off the ground. You feel like nothing can stop you.

The downside of this surge of energy is that it inevitably ends. Exerting large amounts of energy wears you down and after the initial optimism wears off we feel extremely tired. However high you started off, you fall down just as low. This causes a loss of confidence. The combination of fatigue, scant results and an awareness of impending adversity makes us want to give up.

Emotions, by nature, lose their power when we understand them. Prove this to yourself. Next time you get angry, take a moment to reflect on the reason behind the emotion. When I step back and reflect, it is easy to see that my anger is caused by insecurity, selfishness, jealousy, etc. After I understand the cause my anger; my anger fades away.

The passing of the emotional peak is a blessing in disguise because it allows us to re-evaluate our plans from a fresh perspective. At first we are blinded by our own optimism. When we lose our motivation we can see gaping holes our in plan. We can either get down on ourselves and give up or we can use this negative emotion to discover our faults and correct them. Emotional valleys bring us back to reality. Without them we’d be raving lunatics with unlimited self-confidence.

Dealing with emotional highs and lows is an experience common to all people. We generally accept our emotions as beyond our control. They are powerful and mysterious and appear quite irrational; but if we contemplate our emotions, if we explore the inner workings of our minds, we find that like all things, emotions obey the law of cause and effect. Armed with this knowledge, we can continue to allow our emotions to dominate our lives or we can use them to our benefit.

Don’t be surprised by a loss of motivation and don’t be disappointed by it. Understand it as natural effect of the human mind and utilise this knowledge of self to make our emotions work for us.