Take two simple statements, the first is that perception is reality. The second is that emotion does not exist outside us therefore emotion is a choice.
These are fairly fundamental truths yet there are circumstances where we get caught up in the immediate emotion of an event and are so impacted by that emotion that our reality becomes distorted and we anchor ourselves in a negative (or positive) belief that shapes our response to similar situations into the future.
Emotion is a powerful thing and uncontrolled, not understood or poorly managed can create devastating consequences in our relationship with our self and most certainly with others. Emotion is intrinsically linked to our perception and that perception is shaped by what we choose to believe.
Beliefs are our neurological filters and provide internal mental maps (read perceptions) for the territory we operate in i.e. our external reality. They are no more than that. As an analogy you could liken it to that frame which surrounds a picture. The shape and colour of it effects how or what we “see” and interpret what’s in the picture. When we change the frame – in other words we do a reframe – we change what the eye and the mind is drawn to.
Reframing involves choosing to change your internal perspective on a given situation to give it a more positive or beneficial meaning to you. So then, with emotion being an internal response to an action, event, experience or thought if we can choose to change our internal frame we change how we engage in the external world or territory and change the result.
Simply put if what I think drives what I feel which drives what I do, then if I change what I think, I’ll change what I feel and that will change what I do.
While the intention is to become more self-controlled in the moment, there is a greater opportunity to become more self-aware. Once we start challenging ourselves about our emotions, we also start to challenge ourselves on our beliefs. Many of the things we’ve chosen to hold as beliefs are absorbed through childhood and provided by our key influencers. They are actually others’ beliefs that have been confirmed over time and experienced by us and, because we’ve chosen them and reaffirm them, our neural network around them is continually strengthened.
We tend not to challenge those ingrained behaviours because quite simply we look to confirm our beliefs not to deny them. That takes work and the brain is lazy. We become what we think.
So, coming back to it, if that’s the case then changing the way we think changes the outcome. A little self-discipline and self-awareness go a long way. Remember, once you are aware, reframing is easy and means that you are in control.
What can you reframe to enhance your world?