Emotion = Body + Mind

i was reading about ego development theory, and i came across this part about doing, being and thinking and it reminded me of my own Levers of Living: Body, Mind, Behavior and Environment. you can slice things however you want. Ego Development Theory has a behavioral dimension, an emotional dimension and a cognitive dimension.

but to call a dimension emotional, doesn’t work for me. emotions are a result of cognitive frameworks met with external conditions and internal chemistry.

if you instant message your boss and she tells you one sec and then never gets back to you, your cognitive framework might take that information and come up with the conclusion that you’re not very important to your boss. it might further ruminate that the boss is avoiding you because she’s planning on firing you. now that your livelihood is at risky, your body kicks off an imbalance of neurotransmitters and you start feeling anxious, or because you’re certain you’re going to get fired, and you’re certain you won’t find another job, you start feeling depressed. Feelings of anxiousness or depression are generally considered emotions. And emotions are a good report card. But emotions aren’t the levers, they’re the outcomes.

if you take a closer look at the assumptions you’re making, perhaps you can uncover the mental construct you have that assumes that a lack of response from your boss is a data point in favor of a conclusion you fear. and once you uncover that, you can take a look at the evidence that exists in favor of your job security.

that then empowers you to consider other actions you can take to further improve your standing at work—knowing that you can’t change others, you feel free to at least change what you do have some control over. maybe you work to architect a new cognitive framework, one that helps you take confidence in. your job security based off the quality of your work, and your personal connections within the office, as opposed to feeling helpless and hoping the manager likes you.

easier said than done, of course, but the point is that focusing on changing emotions isn’t the way to change emotions. emotions are information about your cognitive frameworks (unconscious beliefs) triggered by an external circumstance. you can try to change external circumstances, but you’ll find it’s much easier (and healthier) to identify and architect your internal logic so that the same inputs can produce much more empowering results.

question your beliefs, and your emotions will adapt accordingly.

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