Transforming unwanted emotions into something more useful

A time of change can sometimes bring us unwanted emotions — things like frustration, anger, fear, and sadness.

When this happens our first response can often be to want those emotions go away.

But if we pause for a moment, and remember that every problem is an opportunity, then we can learn to transform those unwanted emotions into useful allies.

Frustration and anger can be converted into Passion
Anger and frustration show us what we care about — we want the opposite of what has happened.
So if we pause and realise this, and use the situation to get clearer on what we want instead, then we can look for new ways to achieve that.
Then we give ourselves the opportunity to transform our anger into clarity, focus, passion, and determination to make the meaning of our own lives and respond proactively in whatever way makes sense.

Fear can become Courage
Fear comes from imagining something that hasn’t happened yet: it is ‘False Evidence Appearing Real‘.
Courage isn’t an absence of this fear: it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
So if we use our fear to get clearer on what most inspires us, then we can put ourselves back in control. Then we can choose how much effort we want to put into achieving that outcome, including managing our risks and building the inspiration, determination, and enthusiasm that will outweigh our fear.
In this way we transform the word Fear from meaning ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ to meaning ‘Face Everything And Rise’.

Sadness can be turned into Aliveness and Joy:
Sadness is a sign that we have lost something important to us. The opposite of sadness is aliveness and joy.
We feel most alive when we are working in line with our purpose and values.
So if we know the techniques to rapidly let go of what we have lost, and turn to face the future, then we can transform our feelings of loss into a focus on rebuilding what we care about most, new and even better.
In these ways we can turn sadness into joy, exhilaration, and flow.

The unwanted emotions that we sometimes feel during this time of change are just temporary feelings. We weren’t feeling them a week ago and we won’t be feeling them in a year’s time. Knowing that, we can see them as useful signposts that can point us towards what we care about most. And if we use those signposts to shift our focus then we can put more effort into creating what we most desire instead of avoiding what we don’t.

This brings us another step towards becoming antifragile.

Have you or any of the people around you been feeling any unwanted emotions lately? Would it be useful to transform those emotions into the focus and inspiration that will take you to where you want to be instead?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By keith ellwood via

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