Transforming unwanted emotions into something more useful

A time of change can sometimes bring us unwanted emotions such as frustration, anger, fear, and sadness.

When this happens our first response is often to want these emotions to go away.

But if we pause for a moment, and remember that every problem is an opportunity, we can learn to transform these 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 then we can use the situation to get clearer on what we want instead and look for new ways to achieve that.
In this way we can transform our anger into clarity, focus, passion, and determination. We can make the meaning of our own lives.

Fear can become Courage
Fear comes from imagining something that hasn’t yet happened: it is ‘False Evidence Appearing Real‘.
Courage isn’t an absence of fear: it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
So if we accept our fear and ask, “What’s the worse that could happen?” then we can come up with a plan to handle that and our worst case is covered.
Then we can then use our fear to get clearer on what other options would inspire us instead. And then we can choose how much effort we want to put into achieving the outcome that most inspire us, including managing the risks and building the inspiration, determination, and enthusiasm that will outweigh our fear.
This puts us back in control. And it transforms the word Fear to mean ‘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.
If we ask ourselves when we felt most aliveness and joy then we can find our purpose and values. Once we know them then we can look for new ways to put them into practice.
And if we 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 most care about, better than before.
In this way we can turn sadness into joy, exhilaration, and flow.

The unwanted emotions we can 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 a week from now. They aren’t truth. What they are is useful signposts that can point us towards what we care about most and help us find the energy and enthusiasm to make that happen.

This is another step towards becoming antifragile.

Have you or 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 lead 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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