March 2013 Newsletter: Emotion Regulation -vs- Affirmations

Competition season is here! And I love seeing your posts on facebook with your motivational messages, images of you working out, and yes, I am even enjoying pictures of your food. I wish you would come over and cook for me.

With our motivation in full swing I think it is beneficial to discuss creating a positive mental mind set. Now, don’t get distracted just yet because I have something different in mind than affirmations and positive mental attitude. What I have in mind is lining up with the state of mind we are currently in and taking it one step further, this creates a more positive mind set without feeling phony and lacking in authenticity.

So how do we do this? Emotion Regulation!

Emotion Regulation-vs-Affirmations

Most of us are familiar with affirmations. We know about the law of attraction, positive mental attitude and the idea of faking it until you make it, or tricking yourself into thinking how you want to think and ultimately the result of that effort is the achievement of our goals. But there is a fine line with affirmations. Sometimes we are just too far away from our desired state of mind to line up emotionally.

How is regulation of emotions different from affirmations? Affirmations use your desired state as your point of reference where as emotion regulation uses your current state as your point of reference. The end result is that with emotion regulation we have an authentic emotional experience that is necessarily improved on what we were currently experiencing. With affirmations, if our desired state is too far from the affirmation, sometimes it leaves us feeling unaccomplished in our ability to manifest a new emotional state that was an improvement from our desired state.

So how do we regulate our emotions? I am going to simplify this process as much as possible. We can over think how we feel versus how we want to feel and by doing this we create a cognitive process from what would otherwise be a goal of emotional improvement. In other words we are thinking and no longer feeling.

Here is a simplified emotion regulation process. First make yourself aware of your current emotion. Second make yourself aware of your desired emotion. And finally what would be the next step for you to take that is one step closer to your desired emotion while keeping in mind your current state as a point of reference.

This is not to say that affirmations are not useful, they most certainly are. But when you are finding yourself a bit further away from your desired state or if an affirmation is not actually creating an improvement in emotional well being, try regulating your emotions instead and take one step in the direction of your choice, and one more, and one more, until finally your destination is in line with your affirmations.

This is a great pre-contest strategy since we are simplifying everything we do during this time, from what we eat to how we use our mental and emotional energy.

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