Guiding Our Emotions
Emotions are simply a fact of life. We all have them. What many don’t realize is that by learning to work with our emotions, rather than fighting against them, we can transform our lives.
Often when we have a model to frame our experiences we can gain greater clarity. One model that expresses emotions in a continuum is the Emotional Guidance Scale by Abraham-Hicks.
This scale puts the full range of emotions on a scale. On the left side of the graphic, beginning with contentment at the bottom, we can see the positive spiral of emotions as we move up from contentment, to hopefulness, to optimism, all the way up to the top of the spiral, to joy and appreciation. On the right side of the graphic, starting at the top we see boredom, which can spiral down to pessimism, to frustration, and so on all the way down to grief and depression.
One way that I have used this model is when someone I loved was depressed, and when they began to express anger, I knew that it was a move in the right direction as anger is a few levels above depression. This knowledge allowed me to welcome the anger and know it was a step forward, rather than reacting to the anger from a defensive position.
We can use this model for ourselves as well. If we are not feeling the our best, we can take a look at the model and determine where we are on the spiral. From there, we can look one or two levels higher and ask ourselves - “How can I get to the next level?”.
Let’s take an example to work through this. I was feeling discouraged over an event at work. I consulted the Emotional Guidance Scale and noted that worry is two steps up from discouragement. So, I asked myself these questions:
How can I move from feeling discouraged to feeling worried?
What am I actually worrying about that is making me feel discouraged?
Once I transformed my thoughts from discouragement to worry, I could keep scaling the spiral towards more positive feelings.
Depending on the situation, this may happen pretty quickly, or, more likely, over time. It’s not realistic to expect to be able to make a massive jump - from depression to joy in a short period of time. But having this model allows you to have a way forward, so rather than feeling like you’re stuck, there is a path you can utilize to know how to keep moving forward, even if it’s a little at a time. Slow progress is more sustainable than big quantum leaps and will help you to keep the positive momentum without experiencing massive swings.
The other aspect of the model to note is the spiral effect. The spiral on the left is a positive spiral, so when you are feeling one of these emotions, it’s easier to continue to move up the spiral. The same is true on the downward spiral side, so when you are feeling one of these emotions, it’s easy to continue to move down the spiral.
By directing your focus on what it is that you desire and asking yourself powerful questions like:
How does my perspective have to change so that I can see things other than this difficulty in front of me?
What would I have to believe in order to feel that way now?
What am I willing to do to feel that way now?
You can gently guide yourself into feeling the positive emotions that we all want to feel most of the time.
Using the Emotional Guidance Scale gives you the power to direct your life.
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