Attitude, like patterns of thought and behaviour, becomes habitual. If attitudes have been with you a while, they may well have become so ingrained you don’t even notice what triggers them or how they dictate what you feel and the ensuing every day impact they resultantly have.
The more I explore and work with clients – individually and within whole organisations – the more I notice the narrow range that each of us has from which we source our attitude. This Simple Note steps into the patterns of emotional behaviour that form our attitudes, awakening and enhancing the choices we have.
Your emotional state dictates how you subsequently think and act and even activates muscle groups that shape your body, your facial expressions and your outcomes. Adding to your range of emotional states, shifting them into a positive place, reducing the impact of unwanted negative emotions, will positively shift your attitude and impact.
Start this process by identifying the 3 most common negative emotions you experience.
Next to each write down what you have to do to fully feel that emotion:
What do you focus on?
How does your face and body emphasise this emotion?
What do you habitually do when you have this emotion?
What pictures/sounds/thoughts do you experience in your mind?
What words and phrases get used when you are in this emotion? (e.g. “I am angry…”)
Repeat for the 3 most common positive emotions you experience.
What you have now articulated are your emotional rituals, some you want, some you’d rather not.
Whilst you cannot instantly prevent or neutralise the triggers of your emotions, you can immediately begin scrambling and disrupting your ingrained emotional patterns.
Here are three ways to positively disrupt your patterns:
1. Re-label the experience by simply noticing it – e.g. “I’m experiencing one of my emotional patterns about anger right now” instead of “I’m angry”
2. Soften the gripping muscles (Drop your shoulders, unclench your jaw or fists, breathe deeply and slowly)
3. Choose one of your positive patterns and experiment with activating that instead (it may not work, but it will disrupt the one you don’t want)
If this worked even a little, go back to the exercise and expand your list to 5 of your most common emotions. Keep a note in a journal in the week ahead of the emotions that you do experience – identifying those that boost and empower you and those that don’t.
Good luck and keep it simple.