Humans are emotional creatures

We kid ourselves that we are intelligent, rational beings, but we’re not. Most humans are more inclined to act emotionally than ‘logically’, and emotions can ruin our ability to think clearly. Mastery of the emotions, especially the ability to stay calm under pressure and bounce back after defeat, is the key to success in many fields. We can all think of talented people who never made the most of their abilities because they lacked ’emotional intelligence’.

Emotions can bring us great joy, but they can also cause of misery, ill-health and frustration. But can we influence them? Can we change them altogether? Yes we can. But we must want to.

What Are Emotions?

‘Emotion’ comes from the Latin, ’emovere’, which means ‘to move’, ‘to excite’ or ‘to agitate’. An emotion is a strong feeling which involves both physical changes and changes in behaviour. It’s different from cognition (thinking) and from volition (willing and wanting), yet all three are related. Just as thinking and wanting involve feeling, so feeling involves thinking and wanting.

Our emotional responses were initially programmed into the primitive part of the brain in early childhood, before the ‘thinking mind’ or ‘intellect’ started to develop. For our first few years, all our behaviour was governed by the emotional centres in the brain. This is why children are so easily emotionally aroused, and why they are able to switch rapidly from, say, anger or tears to smiles.

Every emotional experience we ever had was stored away in the unconscious and continues to influence us long after the original incident took place. Children who are fortunate enough to enjoy caring parents and a safe, loving environment grow up feeling confident and secure. Children who feel unloved and ignored often develop emotional problems which can remain with them for life – unless they deal with them before it is too late.

Sometimes, childhood emotional experiences are so painful that they are repressed deep into the unconscious: this is the mind trying to protect us from the anxiety they would cause if we were fully aware of them. When this happens, they are beyond our conscious awareness but can be released in various ways.

This certainly doesn’t mean that if we had an unhappy childhood, we’re doomed. Not at all. As we mature, that other part of the mind – the intelligent, rational mind – develops. We learn that displays of emotion are not always the best way of getting what we want. We learn more adult ways of functioning.

Deep seated negative emotions

Obviously there is a big difference between momentary emotional discomfort and deep-seated emotional problems. If we find our energy and motivation starting to sag, there’s a lot we can do to get back on track. Similarly, if we’re about to face a stressful experience, there are ways of taking control and coping with the ordeal.

But if old emotional patterns are preventing us from making the best of ourselves, we can use the ‘reflective’ parts of the mind to work through and move beyond them. We can learn how to gently let go of irrational feelings so they no longer upset us; we can train ourselves to look for and use the lessons they offer us. This doesn’t mean ignoring or suppressing emotions – suppressing emotion is extremely dangerous in the long term and can result in serious physical and psychological illness.

We can’t always make an uncomfortable feeling go away especially if it’s deeply ingrained. But we can learn to handle it more effectively. Do this consistently over a period of time, and the discomfort eventually subsides. For example, anyone who has experienced divorce or bereavement knows that time is the great healer. Eventually we adjust to our new circumstances.

Why emotions affect people so differently

A few years ago, a newspaper carried a story about a man who was in a panic. He’d received a letter from the gas company threatening to cut off his supply because he hadn’t paid a £200 bill. They’d threatened him with a court order which would have authorised them to gain entry into his flat. ‘I’m so upset,’ he told the reporter, ‘I won’t sleep tonight.’

The irony was, he lived in an all-electric flat! It was simply a computer error. But why did it affect him so badly? Some would find the idea of the gas company showing up to turn off his non-existent gas supply quite amusing! He was worrying about something that couldn’t possibly happen – and that he knew couldn’t possibly happen. Others would have simply telephoned the company, and calmly sorted it out.

So why the difference? It boils down to the fact that our emotional problems are not for the most part caused by events and circumstances, but by our beliefs, attitudes and reactions. A harsh lesson for some – but true.

Our emotions, like every part of our physical and psychological make-up, have a purpose. We wouldn’t have them otherwise. In essence, they are a fast response feedback mechanism. If things go the way we want, or expect, or are used to, we feel good. If not, we feel bad. Emotions steer us towards what seems safe, comfortable and pleasurable and away from anything which might be uncomfortable. They are born out of our perceptions of what is pleasurable and what could cause ‘pain’.

The important word here is perceptions. But what happens if our perceptions are misguided?

For example, say you are facing a difficult interview for a job you really want.  Your stomach is churning. You may want to ‘bottle out’ but if you do you may miss out on a golden opportunity. Scarcely anyone has ever been killed or injured attending an interview. The worst that can possibly happen is that you dry up or you can’t answer all the questions. Embarrassing but hardly life threatening. So you go ahead anyway, ignoring the emotions – because you know the benefits of getting the job will outweigh the ‘pain’ in the longer term.

We can easily be misled by our own feelings. Just because something feels wrong, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is wrong. Similarly, just because something feels right, it doesn’t automatically follow that it is right.

Emotions often feel the same as intuitions. Both affect us physically, but there’s a world of difference between an intuitive feeling and an emotional response programmed into the brain when we were young. If it’s genuinely the intuition, we would be foolish to ignore it. But if it is merely emotional conditioning, we could easily be deceived. Sometimes it is best to just feel the fear and do it anyway.

How do you know whether it’s your intuition or emotional programming? That’s the question!

Can we control our emotions?

Think of a time when you were so angry you could quite easily have hurt someone, but you didn’t. What happened? The rational part of your brain clicked into gear, reminded you of the consequences and halted you in your tracks. You knew you would be worse off in the long term if you carried on, so you dealt with it some other way.

We can’t always prevent ourselves from feeling an emotion; the primitive part of the brain tends to click into gear without conscious direction. But unless we have a neurological condition we can control our response. Occasionally, emotions may appear to ‘just come over us’, but that hides the reality. Emotions come from inside. We create them. No-one else can make us feel anything without our participation.

We don’t have to – and shouldn’t always – go with our feelings. Follow them when warranted, and disregard them when you realise that they’re obstructing you progress or leading you into unwanted consequences.

And remember – the Law of Cause and Effect operates irrespective of your emotional programming!

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 1.8.2016

Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston

Conf book cover

How to Books 2010

 

 

 

 

Creativity and intuitive ideas

 ‘Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to look after them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.’

John Steinbeck

There are many ways of generate creative ideas. The first uses the mind as an information and data processing device, reacting to the environment to create new associations, connections and solutions. The others use the deeper parts of the mind as a source of inspiration and ideas.

Here are some ways of coming up with creative ideas by accessing your inherent intuitive capabilities:

1. The stimulus-response method

Place yourself in a sensory-rich environment – one which stimulates and arouses the senses. For isntance, mix with lively people; they spark off new ideas. When stimuli act on the senses, they set off a chain reaction in which each thought sparks off new ideas.

For example, what do you do if you’re stuck for something to buy your mother for her birthday? You could tackle it in a logical way: make a list of the things she likes, cross off the items you know she already has, whittle it down to two or three, and then go to the shops. The chances are, though, your range of items would be rather limited.

Alternatively:

  • Wander through your local shopping centre, looking in shop windows and visit her favourite shops.
  • Ask Dad for his ideas.
  • Think about what other people of her age with her interests enjoy.
  • Browse the internet and look through home-shopping catalogues, newspapers and magazines.
  • Recall what gave her the most pleasure when you were a child.

One idea may lead to another and you’ll eventually find something suitable, maybe something you would never have thought of otherwise.

The stimulus-response method works best if you put yourself in a child-like frame of mind and free yourself from rational, adult thinking. Fun and laughter stimulate the brain to come up with new ideas.

2. Ask your Superconscious

Ask your Superconscious for help. Relax mind and body into the Alpha State and focus on a specific question. Be patient; your mind will carry on working on it even when you’ve turned your attention to other things.

3. Sitting for Ideas

Allow an hour for this method. Go to a quiet place. Dim the lighting. Have a notebook and pen ready. Then relax your body and sit patiently, ask a question and wait for the answer to pop into your head. Jot down any ideas that come before you leave the room.

Some of the greatest minds have this and used it to the full. Thomas Edison, for instance, used to sit in a chair clutching as small object. When he was so relaxed that the object fell from his hands, he asked his inner self a question and waited. He claimed the method was virtually foolproof. He remarked, ‘When you become quiet, it just dawns on you.’

In similar vein, when they were stuck for ideas Albert Einstein often sat staring at the clouds and eccentric artist Salvador Dali relaxed on his chaise-longue clutching a spoon. The biochemist, August Kekule, claimed to have discovered the structure of the benzene ring whilst nodding off in front of his fire.

4. Sleeping on it

There’s plenty of evidence that the sleeping mind solves problems more efficiently than the waking mind. To use your problem solving ability this way, write down your problem, read through it just before you go to sleep, and ask your Superconscious to work on it. Keep a pen and pad at your bedside: you may find the answer comes to you during the night.

However, you don’t have to wait until nightfall or put aside special relaxation time to tap into your intuitive mind. Many good ideas may come when you’re walking in the country, relaxing in the garden or lying on a beach. While your conscious mind is idling, your unconscious is busy. Carry a small notebook with you so you can record any precious gems.

5. Tune In!

These and many other examples suggest that there is a deeper level of wisdom which we can access when we quieten the conscious mind by stilling the thoughts. Imagine it as a TV station transmitting 24 hours a day. If you switched on your TV and all you got was a blank picture, would you immediately blame the TV station? No, first you would you check your set and check it’s properly tuned in. Intuition is much the same. Plug in, switch on and listen. Then act upon it.

In truth, what marks out the most creative people is not so much the ideas they come up with but what they do with them. Have you ever had an idea for a product, story, service, play or film etc. and failed to act on it, only for someone else to launch it and make a fortune? Do you ever look at something someone else has produced and think, ‘I could have done/made/written that!’?

What’s the difference? Simple: they trusted their intuition and acted on it – you didn’t!

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 28.7.2016

Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston

Life Coach book cover

How to Books, 2010

Intuition – your infallible inner guidance

In his novel, ‘Angels and Demons’, Dan Brown writes:

‘Remarkable solutions to seemingly impossible problems often occur in moments of clarity. It’s what gurus call ‘higher consciousness’. Biologists call it altered states, psychologists super-sentience. Sometimes divine revelations simply mean adjusting your brain to hear what your heart already knows.’

A common term for higher consciousness is ‘intuition’. Intuition is an inner sense that can quickly reach accurate conclusions from limited data. It is often referred to as ‘the sixth sense’.

Some argue that it is simply the sum total of all our learning experiences coming to our aid when we need it. This can happen when an experienced doctor immediately pinpoints the root cause of a patient’s problems without having to go through a sequence of steps. They draw on their deep knowledge and with experience an expert’s hunches get better and better.

Others argue that the human body and brain subconsciously pick up signals from the environment which are so small they are not noticed consciously. If someone is lying, for instance, their body language and voice quality are subtly altered.

Many neuro-scientists believe that our minds exist only inside our brains, with consciousness located in the cerebral cortex. However, brain activity cannot account for the overwhelming evidence of intuition, telepathy and other so-called ‘psychic’ abilities. Not even the most rigorous investigators have been able to find a physical explanation for how Uri Geller is able to do what he does, yet his abilities are beyond dispute.

Psychic phenomena are ‘logically’ impossible. They ought not to happen, and yet they do. There’s obviously a lot more to it than can currently be explained by science alone.

How well developed is your intuition?

‘If a man (sic) can quietly listen to the voice of the unconscious and understand that the power works through him, that he is not in control, then he is on the way to a genuine development of his personality.’

Dr Carl Gustav Jung

Intuition is a fundamental survival mechanism. It not a gift that some have and some don’t – it is possessed by everyone. In animals, we call it instinct.

Survival intuition is located primarily the solar plexus, although you can feel it throughout your whole body. If you choose not to follow it, you have to rationalise why not.

The most important thing when developing your intuition is to know you have it. Do you use it confidently? Are you suspicious of it? Do you know you have it and try to ignore it?

The problem is, most of us (especially males) are systematically taught to ignore and/or mistrust it from an early age. We’re encouraged to put names to things, to count, calculate, analyse and intellectualise – all left-brained functions. We are taught to examine the evidence, and if there isn’t any that can be measured, seen and touched, mistrust it.

If you don’t use your intuition, like a muscle it contracts and gets weaker. Our intuitive and creative abilities are a natural part of us, and the more we use them, the more reliable they become.

Intuitive Problem Solving

When your intuition starts to develop, you’ll find you:

  • Improve your decision making abilities
  • Tune in to people, even when meeting them for the first time
  • Solve problems more easily
  • Generate new, more creative/ innovative ideas
  • Become more spontaneous

Let’s suppose something has been praying on your mind. You’ve tried to think it through, perhaps even attempted a few practical solutions, but nothing has worked.

Now try this:

1.      Be clear on the problem

Do your homework. Gather as much information as you can. Consider what is stopping you from solving it. Feed all this into your Superconscious data processor. We tend to have the most reliable hunches about what we know best. Careful homework prepares the ground and stimulates intuition and insight.

 2.      Immerse yourself in the problem

 Discuss it with people who you think may be able to help. Write down all the possible solutions you can think of. Try a few and monitor the results.

3.      Put it to one side

So far, you’ve use purely left-brained thinking, but this can lead you only so far. There comes a time when you have to make a leap of faith. That’s when you put the problem to one side and turn to something else. Affirm that the answer will come at the right time, then let go.

Do something else for a while and see what happens. Go for a walk, read a book, tidy the house, clean the car. Distance yourself from the problem for a while, allow your intuition free rein and the answer will come.

 4.      Ask your intuitive mind to help

If the problem proves really stubborn, consciously ask your intuitive mind for help. Ask a question as you’re dozing off at night, with an air of expectancy that the answer will be revealed to you in your dreams or will pop into your head in the morning. You may find that you wake up knowing exactly what to do.

 5.      Use the Alpha State

If you’re still not getting anywhere, put time aside, relax into Alpha and ask for help. The answer is unlikely to pop into your head there and then, but sooner or later it will come. Keep your wits about you. Intuition is rarely loud and insistent – more like a whisper, a gentle nudge in the right direction.

6.      Write down the answer

When an answer comes, write it down. You may think you’ll remember, but don’t take the risk. Then try it out. Even if it’s not yet 100% correct, action can clarify the issue and lead you to the solution.

7.      Stay open

Be open to the possibility that more answers may come. Trust your experience, but don’t be naive. Check out your intuitions before you go off and do something rash.

‘Pure’ intuition is nothing less than your spiritual self communicating with you. Ignore it at your peril! You cannot stop intuition flowing once you’ve opened the tap, but you have to put your intellectual inclinations on hold and go with your deepest feelings. Once you’ve started, it grows.

Intuitively-intelligent people know that guidance is available and that solutions to seemingly intractable problems come when they have turned their attention to something else.

‘Pure’ intuition is ignored at your peril! Put your intellectual inclinations on hold and go with your deepest feelings. Then it gets stronger.

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 1.7.2016

Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston

365 Spirituality book

How to Books, 2007

Your intuition

Intuition is an inner guide that produces useful conclusions from limited data. It’s often referred to as ‘hunch’ or ‘sixth sense’. It has been referred to as a ‘receiving set’ through which ideas and thoughts flash into the mind.

Every brain is both a broadcasting and receiving station capable of picking up vibrations of thought from other brains. In addition, the brain subconsciously picks up signals from the environment. This is an ability we all have, not a special gift for a few.

Some intuitive ‘hits’ are obvious. We have an unsettled feeling in the solar plexus, a tight feeling in the neck and shoulders, stomach tension, a headache etc. Others are more subtle – a whispering voice, a subtle feeling that something isn’t right, and so on.

Many voices chatter away inside your head; many sensations affect your body. How do you know which of them are your intuition trying to steer you?

The first clue:

Intuition works best in silence. Like a triangle in an orchestra, it is rarely heard above the noise of the other instruments (i.e. environmental noise and your chattering conscious mind), but when the mind is quiet, there it is. Nor does it function well when you are feeling highly emotional: trying to tune in to your intuition when you are, say, angry or upset is like trying to hear a friend on the phone when people in the room are dancing to loud music.

The second clue:

Intuition usually reveals itself gently, quietly, little by little. Things happen which lead you in a certain direction, then one day, you look back and realise that your intuition had been at work.

The third clue:

Sometimes intuition reveals itself through dreams. Many dreams are of little consequence – they are simply the unconscious dealing with ‘unfinished business’ and cleaning out mental cobwebs while you are asleep. But memorable or recurring dreams may be a message from your intuition.

The fourth clue:

Another way in which intuition functions is through coincidences. It’s easy to dismiss coincidences as random chance, but often they’re your intuition prompting you. Often we fail to grasp their significance. Events are often linked in ways that we can’t see, because they go beyond the established laws of physics. Look in any newspaper and you’ll find stories about people who bump into strangers who go on to play a major part in their lives, or overhear a conversation that gives the clue to an unsolvable problem. Whenever something like this happens to you, take note and reflect on it. The more aware you are of the effect coincidences have on your life, the more able you are to make sense of them in the future.

Intuition versus emotion

I often hear people say, ‘Go with your feelings.’ This can be good advice, but be careful. Can we always trust our feelings? There is an enormous difference between a genuine intuitive feeling and an emotional feeling that arises from childhood conditioning or information misprocessing.

For example, you may have a choice of actions, but one of them fills you with trepidation. Is this because you have thought it through, or is it your intuition warning you, or an irrational fear programmed into your unconscious as a child?

How can you tell? The best way is to ask yourself:

  • Does this feel right at gut level (‘gut feel’)? The body usually offers an accurate steer. A tight feeling in the neck and shoulders could be a warning to tread carefully or delay making a decision until you have more information.

We experience something physically a split second before we intellectualize about it. Often this first feeling turns out to be the most reliable, because the brain has not yet had time to come up with a calculated or habitual response. Train yourself to be attentive, and you will register the feeling before the cognitive apparatus clicks into gear.

  • Also, be wary of ‘should’s and ‘shouldn’ts’. These and their close cousins ‘must’, ‘ought’, ‘have to’ etc. are usually indications of the ‘Parent’ voice – your programming and conditioning.
  • Ask, ‘Which option would provide me with the greatest sense of satisfaction?’ The stronger the feeling of fulfillment and contentment, the more likely it is to be pure intuition.

Intuition never sleeps. Once you recognise and trust it, it’s like having a wise being inside you, always on hand to offer inspiration, guidance and support. The more you have faith in it, the more reliable it is. Trust it 50%, and it will reward you 50%. Trust it 100%, and it will reward you 100%.

You won’t always like what your intuition is telling you, though. When we hear an answer we don’t like, we pretend we haven’t heard. But beware: ignore your intuition at your peril. Not only will invite unhappiness and frustration into your experience, you’ll find yourself facing similar situations again until you get the point!

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 4.5.2016

Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston

Life Coach book cover

How to Books, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Inner Teacher

Just suppose you had an ‘inner teacher’ who knew exactly what you needed to learn in any moment. Well you have.

It’s one of the functions of your intuition, housed in your unconscious mind.

If certain situations or thinking patterns bring about ‘negative’ emotions in you, your inner teacher makes sure you have more of these experiences until you get the message. In other words, if you handle a situation unskillfully you’ll get another opportunity to learn.

If there are patterns which you would like to change, reflect on the best way of handling them, clarify your intentions, examine your thinking and beliefs, mentally rehearse future situations  and adjust your words and actions.

Remember, your inner teacher doesn’t just rely on uncomfortable experiences to get its message across – it works for ‘positives’ too. If you’re experiencing good feelings, it’s your intuition saying, ‘You handled that perfectly. Congratulations!

©David Lawrence Preston, 9.3.2016

Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston

365 Spirituality book