Transforming unwanted emotions into something more useful

Woman wearing Sunglasses walks confidently in the opposite direction to the Arrows

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

Often our response is to work to make those emotions go away.

But with a different attitude, and the right tools, we can learn to transform these emotions into useful allies:

  • Frustration and anger can be converted into Passion
    Anger and frustration show us what we care about — the opposite of what has happened.
    So when we pause and get clear on what that is, then we can look for new ways to achieve what we want instead. In this way we can transform our anger into passion and make the meaning of our own lives.
  • 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 fear: it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway, because our inspiration outweighs our fear.
    So if we use our fear to get clear on what would most inspire us, and then make plans to achieve that (and manage the risks), then we can transform ‘Fear’ from ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ into ‘Face Everything And Rise’.
  • Sadness can be turned into Joy and Aliveness:
    Sadness is a sign that we have lost something important to us.
    On the other hand, we will feel most fully alive when we work in line with our values and purpose.
    So if we know what our purpose and values are then this will help us use our sadness to get clear on what we have lost. Then if we know how to grieve fully in a way that we are able to let go of what we have lost, and turn to face the future, then we can start to rebuild what we care about most, in new and better ways.
    In these ways we can turn sadness into joy, exhilaration, and flow.

The frustrations and unwanted emotions we can sometimes experience during this time of change are temporary feelings. They are signs that show us what we want instead of what we’ve got. And with the right attitude and tools we can inspire ourselves and others to work to create what we want instead — 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 know how to transform those emotions into the focus and inspiration that would take you towards 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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