Indulging in Negative Emotion
How broad is your emotional vocabulary? Most of us use the same handful of labels to identify how we feel: Happy, glad, sad, mad, fear. Some people have just two: “good” and “bad”. I have a list of feeling that over 400 feelings that I bring up while coaching to help clients get really clear about how they feel or want to feel. Of all the feelings available to us, there’s a small category that I call “Indulgent Emotions”.
Indulgent emotions keep us stuck in inaction. Unlike “negative” emotions, which cause negative actions, “indulgent” emotions cause no action at all. Instead, we feel like we’re in the spin cycle. The most common indulgent emotions are: doubt, overwhelm, confusion, self-pity (victimization) and worry. While coaches act as dream catchers–helping people create a life that matches their aspirations, you can think of indulgent emotions as dream killers. They stop you in your tracks, preventing you from reaching your goals. In future posts, I’ll be addressing these feelings and how they sabotage you. Today, let’s look at the first. one.
Confusion says: I don’t know how. I’m not sure how I’d do it. I’m don’t know when. I don’t know why… I’m just not sure where I would get the money. I don’t know what to do. “I don’t know”We know so much more than we think we do. (Oh, the irony.) And if you’re like most people, you’re too quick to believe your brain when it says “I don’t know”. There are many versions of I don’t know, but they all serve the purpose of acting confused. Because as soon as we say we don’t know, we think we’ve given an answer, so now we can be done and move on. Not so fast!
When I ask questions of clients and hear “I don’t know”, I either wait in silence or toss it right back. “What if you did? What’s the answer?” The funny thing is that when I ask, they always give an answer! We’re so easily tricked, aren’t we? Of course, there are things we don’t know, but in those cases, try asking yourself how you’d learn or find out, and then just do that next thing.
One last trick that quickly gets me and my clients out of confusion: I recently had a client who is working on building her business. She had created an income goal of $48k in the coming 12 mos. -needing $4k earnings in July to meet her first month’s goal. But when we checked in mid-month, she had zero dollars in sales. When I asked how she could bring in that income in the remaining two months, she was “stuck”. She told me what she’s been doing to get sales, but said it wasn’t working, so she really didn’t know how.
So I asked, “If I gave you $50,000 if you reached your goal, would you do it?” She instantly said “Of COURSE!” When I asked how she knew, she said “That’s more than my full-year goal. I’d figure it out!” I pushed a bit further: “How? What would you do?” She told me she’d talk to everyone she knew about her product, do a booth at the farmer’s market, run a Facebook Lives every day, create a sale, offer a free class at the library, run a radio ad, “whatever it took”. Funny isn’t it? Looks like she knew how to get sales after all! The thing that really makes me shake my head is that I do this same thing. I still fall for it when my brain acts confused, even though I know this is how it works. Because I’m as human as my clients and we all have that same tricky brain.
The brain wants to keep us safe (“comfortable”) with as little effort as possible. Automation rules. (Imagine if he had to work hard to chew gum & walk at the same time without you walking off the curb into traffic or biting your tongue off!) Comfortable and easy. Stay in the cave where nothing can go wrong. Being “confused” is a great way to keep us from moving forward and taking risks! But we weren’t made with a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control. So be “onto yourself”. Keep an eye out for confusion and refuse to play along.
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