Your Emotions are Action Signals

When I work with clients, the first thing I try to understand is what emotions they are feeling in the moment (when they are explaining their situation). Every emotion has a message for you. Appreciate the message. Negative emotions are a signal that change is needed. Once you learn to master your emotions and use them as a call to action, you can either change your perception or change your approach.

What if you knew that despite any negative emotion you are feeling, you could get out of that feeling in a moment or two? Do you know that at any moment when you feel negative emotion, the first step is to identify the Action Signal?  The Action Signal is the message that the particular negative emotion is sending. The next step, after you have clarified the Action Signal, is to take action by either changing your perception or changing your procedure. You change your perception by changing how you look at it or what you focus on. You change your procedure by changing your approach or how you are responding in the situation.

The list below are 10 types of emotions we feel on a regular basis. I created a short list of what these emotions may mean to you:

  1. Uncomfortable – Impatient, uneasy, distressed, mildly embarrassed.
  2. Fear – Concern, apprehension, scared, terrified.
  3. Hurt –  Sense of loss.
  4. Anger – mildly irritated, resentful, livid, rage.
  5. Frustration – held back or hindered in the pursuit of something.
  6. Disappointment – sad, defeated.
  7. Guilt – emotions or regret.
  8. Inadequacy – less than or unworthy.
  9. Overloaded – overwhelmed, hopeless, or depressed.
  10. Loneliness – apart or separate from.

This is the set of negative emotions that you will turn into Action Signals.  Instead of getting controlled by these emotions, you will use them as signals to take action – that action is to either change your perception or change your behaviour.

Now here are what the 10 Action Signals mean:

  1. Uncomfortable –  When you feel uncomfortable, this is a signal to change your state. Clarify what you want, then take action in that direction.
  2. Fear – Fear is a signal to prepare yourself or get prepared to deal with something that is about to come. If it’s beyond your control, then change your perception and let it go.
  3. Hurt – Hurt is a signal that you have an expectation that is not being met or you have a sense of loss. Evaluate whether there really is a loss, then change your perception, way of communicating your needs or behaviour.
  4. Anger –  This is a signal that an important rule you have in your life has been violated by someone – maybe even you. Clarify your rules or adjust them. Your rules might not match other people’s rules so if you don’t change them, you might be angry the rest of your life.
  5. Frustration –  The signal is you are doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. You need to change your approach to achieving your goal.
  6. Disappointment – This is a signal that you need to realise regarding an expectation or an outcome that is not going to happen. You therefore need to change your expectation. For example, your time-frame – maybe it was too short.
  7. Guilt – Guilt is a signal that you violated one of your standards. Don’t stay in guilt, but don’t deny it. Make things right when you screw up. When you can’t change the past, change your present and future behaviours.  Recognise when you’re feeling guilty and you shouldn’t be, change your perception, and let it go.
  8. Inadequacy – This is a signal that you need to do something to get better. Get up and do something to get better or change your criteria.  Maybe your rules are too harsh. You don’t have to be perfect – you simply need to start taking action.
  1. Overloaded –  This is a signal to reevaluate what is most important to you in this situation. Distinguish between what is a necessity versus what is a desire. Prioritise your list. Take the first one on your list and do something about it in order to take control of events instead of letting them control you. The simplest way is to chunk it down, take one thing and act on it.
  2. Loneliness –  The signal is that we need a connection with people.  Clarify what kind of connection you need: basic friendship, somebody to laugh with, somebody to listen to you and so on. Then, change your approach or change your perception.

This is the most practical, effective and actionable guidance I can offer you when it comes to managing your emotions. So the next time any of these emotions pop up, and they will, rather than simply dismissing or suppressing them, embrace them quickly and use them to inspire action. It is a way to empower yourself to make meaningful changes in your life, and make the most of any negative emotion. You control your emotions instead of letting your emotions control you.

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