If you grew up on planet earth, you were likely raised to judge your emotions. You were taught to think of certain emotions as good and others as bad. Rather than learning how to work with the different emotions, you were taught to stuff certain feelings down in order to be considered well-mannered, good, and liked by others. The problem is that denying emotions causes a slew of personality issues and unhealthy behaviors. A successful life on all fronts requires a different approach.
The 8 Basic Emotions
When we judge some emotions as bad and try to shut them down, we become unwell emotionally, mentally, physically, or a combination of these. The truth is, none of our human emotions are bad. It’s simply a matter of where you are accessing them—from your lower or your higher mind.
If you’re using your lower, less conscious mind, you get caught in the shadow side of the emotion. You become prone to emotional reactivity and outbursts because the low mind is prone to attack, judge, and blame others. If left unchecked, this way of relating to your emotions can intensify and destroy relationships in every part of your life.
The higher mind is curious and interested in learning. Emotions experienced from the higher mind result in a thoughtful response, not a thoughtless reaction. From the higher mind, you slow down an instant so you can choose your response. From this place in your mind, anger becomes the pathway to problem-solving, fear becomes the pathway to courage, and sadness becomes the pathway to kinship with others.
According to psychologist Robert Plutchik, human beings have eight basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust. The more conscious we become about the purpose of each emotion, the more we can master the lesson it has to teach us about how to thrive in relationships, workplaces, and all throughout our lives. For example, joy teaches us to remember what’s important, trust helps us learn how to communicate better with others, fear protects us from danger, surprise focuses our attention in new situations, sadness helps us learn how to connect with those we love, anticipation at its best helps us look forward and plan properly, anger invites us to find our real power (the power to choose our response), and disgust helps us reject something that’s unhealthy.
Are You Stuck in Your Lower Mind?
We all fluctuate between our two minds. It’s easy to tell which mind you are in by noticing how you’re feeling. Your lower mind gets caught up in judgments, blaming, and annoyances and misses the opportunity to learn from the situation. It also requires more energy, so the lower mind is often accompanied by feeling stressed, drained, exhausted or depressed when it’s running the show. If you want to feel your most alive, energized and empowered self, you begin to notice when you’re in the lower mind and actively choose the higher mind instead. Which part of your mind you are using most often in your life?
- Am I caught up in blaming, self-righteousness or irritation right now?
- If my annoyance was pointing to a skill I could use right now, what skill would that be?
- Am I feeling defeated or overwhelmed (a trademark of the lower mind)?
- If this situation was giving me an opportunity to expand myself, what could I try that might improve things?
Making the Shift to Your Highest Potential
As an expert and lifelong student in the field of human transformation, I am fascinated and inspired by the power we have to choose between our two minds. Emotion can be a springboard to personal growth or a rabbit hole of unhappiness and dis-ease. If you choose the path of personal growth, learning from your emotional reactions can give you a sense of empowerment and vision, even in the toughest situations.
But making the shift requires you to take action. One of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life was the realization that no matter how much effort I put in, I could not make someone else choose their higher mind without their willingness to do so. Watching someone live below their potential for happiness by choosing the lower mind over and over again is painful, but transformation is an individual choice and each person progresses at his or her own rate. If you’re ready to start living from your best self, here are three things you can do: