“We cannot always control our thoughts, but we can control our words, and repetition impresses the subconscious, and we are then master of the situation.”
Unfortunately, emotions are not something we can control. Just like the taste of our favorite food, we do not choose to be emotional about certain things. We have automatic responses in our mind that trigger emotions. I titled this the emotional tight rope because I’m going to compare subconscious skill development or “muscle memory” to the emotional responses that influence our actions.
- Without practice, we can’t achieve certain goals no matter how hard we try
- Mental and physical skills are learned the same way
- We cannot control our emotions, only our actions
- Some people are more tolerant to physical pain; mental pain is the same
- We don’t need to understand to learn
I’ll give you an example of some reflexes. If you see someone holding a metal pipe over a flame for a very long time, you’ll assume it’s hot. If you look a way for a minute and they switch to a new pipe then touch you with it, you’ll jump. It’s a reflex that you can’t control! Same with our food. Can you simple flip on or off a switch in your head to dislike your favorite food and adore your most unfavorable meal?
There are ways around these autonomic responses. The first step is to accept their existence and catch when they arise. It may seem like I’m coming from left field with this, but most people dismiss criminals as just being “bad” for the sake of being “bad”. Sometimes when criminals get out of jail, they repeat their crime. Why? Imagine yourself wanting to cross a tight rope between two buildings. Someone is chasing you, so you have no choice but to begin crossing it. Unless you have practiced before, chances are you will fall. No matter how much you’d like to cross to the other side and avoid falling, it wont happen unless you have the proper tools to do so.
Finding the Tools
For walking a tight rope, the proper tools would be practice, which leads to experience. As far as something like a behavior, there has to be a tool for gaining that experience. The tools are usually specific for each behavior, but the foundation for obtaining those tools would be the same. The best path for looking for those tools is to face negative emotions with an open mind. The more new things your try, the more research you do (using the scientific method) and the more uncomfortable situations you put yourself in, the better chance you have of finding those tools quickly.