“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions, I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” –Oscar Wilde
The emotions that you feel on a day-to-day basis are affecting your ability to get what you are after. Whether it’s getting up and going for a walk, or going to the gym. If you feel unmotivated, tired, depressed, you aren’t going to be physically capable. But notice how powerful those words are.
When I was fat, tired, and without self-esteem or motivation, I dreaded gym class. I was humiliated and embarrassed. Each day during gym class I would struggle my way slowly to the end of a run, where my entire class was already done, waiting for me. I remember one day when we were running around the perimeter of the school. I was finishing last as usual when the class period ended and everyone was already going inside, while I was still trying to finish.
Those emotions are all really powerful, and really painful. When I decided to walk out my front door to go for a walk after dinner that night, those emotions reminded me why I was doing what I was doing. They served as the impetus for change.
Mastering your emotions will give you the drive you need to work out day after day. They will serve as your reminder when you want to quit, why you are doing what you are doing. I focused on them when I worked out. I focused on the pain I was feeling when my entire class stared at me while I finished the run last. I imagined that painful experience in my head, and I decided, that was not going to happen anymore. Imagine if you didn’t master your emotions. Feeling humiliated and embarrassed could mean to you that if you don’t want to feel that way again, just never run again. That is an example of bad emotional mastery. You need to use your emotions in a productive way. Don’t fall into the trap where you decide that in order to avoid those negative feelings you need to quit. In the long run, you can’t run away from your painful emotions.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor E. Frankl
If running meant embarrassment to me because every day at gym class I finished last, then I could have stopped running; I could have quit. But embarrassment meant room for improvement to me. If you can take control and consciously decide what things mean to you, then you can take control of your weight loss. If when I went to the gym for the first time and I could barely curl 20 pounds, and I said, “This just means I am a weak person,” and gave up, then I would never improve. I realize this may seem simple on the surface, but when you are in the zone, and this is actually happening to you, it will take effort to remind yourself to find a positive meaning.
This was the answer to my dieting problem. I realized that when I went on a diet, to me it meant, “I am restricting the foods I can eat.” It meant that I was taking something away, and that I was losing something. This kind of meaning is not positive, and it was responsible for my inability to follow through. I changed the meaning behind dieting and by changing it I was able to stick with it. Dieting means being healthy. It means enjoying a new variety of foods. It means adventure, excitement, challenge, growth, health, longevity, pride. All these emotions that come from dieting. Dieting means looking good, it means being happy to look into the mirror, it means being able to spend less money at the store, it means I have empathy for myself. Change what things mean to you, and you can change your life.
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling
Choosing the right words will make all the difference in your life. For example, what do you think of when you hear the word, stubborn? You think of some mean, old, cranky person! How about persistent? Maybe a salesperson or someone who works hard. Now think about, committed. Now I think of an athlete. Someone who day after day continues to work at what they want to get better at. All three of these words mean nearly the same exact thing.
Make sure that you are choosing the correct words to describe the way that you are feeling. Choose committed and persistent instead of stubborn. Choose to say that you are peeved off instead of infuriated. Why is this important to athletic performance? Because if you say to yourself, “I am exhausted.” How do you think that makes you feel? Probably completely tired! Those words are not serving you and are taking away your energy! Replace exhausted with, “I am adapting.” Your body is using its energy to develop more muscles, more neural connections that are making you stronger, and that takes energy. Your body is changing! You worked out and now you are adapting to new demands! If you come home feeling like you are “adapting” after work, that means you pushed your body and it is recovering. That doesn’t mean give up, it means great job, keep it up!
But what if I can’t stop using negative words!?
It wont always be easy. Like the German philosopher Goethe said,
“Everything is hard before it is easy” – Goethe
So give it a try, and reference this post as needed.
If you are an avid reader and are looking to learn more about taking control of your emotions, I highly recommend Awaken the Giant Within, by Anthony Robbins. It goes into detail about all your emotions listing out each one and what it means. It tells you what the message is, how to acknowledge that message, and then make the appropriate changes.
Guilt, for example, is described as feeling as though you acted against one of your highest values. Your getting the message that you don’t do that, but you did anyways, so you feel this feeling.
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