Tag Archive | Emotions


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Non-Doing?”

“I use it with a double meaning.

Non-Doing is Effortless Action.

The conscious and the unconscious mind complement one another. They form one process. The conscious mind has querying power; the unconscious mind has processing power. 

The more harmoniously the conscious and the unconscious mind work together, the better your outcome. If the conscious mind overextends, trying to overcontrol the process, it interferes with the unconscious mind, which produces an imbalance.

When you perform a precision jump in Parkour for instance, the role of the conscious mind is to set the intention, form a clear desired outcome, then get out of the way. The more conscious effort you put in, the less effective you are. Doing, in this case, is non-doing – letting happen. This requires trust.

What we call confidence is essentially a deep trust in your unconscious mind.

Non-Doing is Absence of Action.

Emotions come and go, outside our control. What we control is how we respond to them. 

Unpleasant emotions hold the key to inner peace. 

When unpleasant emotions occur, the default tendency is to resist them. We feel the impulse to do something about them – anything – to make them go away. This however has the opposite effect. The more effort we put into resisting them, the more we amplify them – and the more we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from them.

What makes those emotions unpleasant are unpleasant body sensations (a big idea I know from Joan Rosenberg’s book 90 Seconds to a Life You Love). That’s what we want to get away from. The implications of this idea are profound. Most of our failings are the result of our incapacity to fully experience emotional body sensations.

What you resist persists. Non-doing, in this case, is non-resistance [<link; medium read]: lovingly, non-judgmentally, and curiously observing the emotional sensations without doing anything about them – they inevitably go away. This builds trust.

What we call confidence is essentially a deep trust in your capacity to deal with any emotional outcome.”


On dealing with unresourceful states

In a lowered emotional state, we only see problems, not solutions.

Prime your state first. The biochemistry will help you proactively tell yourself an enabling story.

To change your state do something physical.

(Tim Ferris)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“When you’re in an unresourceful state, changing it becomes your absolute priority.”

“I’d rephrase it to:

When you’re in an unresourceful state, dealing with it becomes your absolute priority.

If you change state or distract yourself, you miss an opportunity to learn from it.

Stay with it for a while.
Explore it, with compassion and curiosity.
Converse with it on the page.
Then kiss it goodbye, 
and… let it go.”

Learning by Doing

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I’ve been reading a lot about emotions to learn to deal with unpleasant ones.”

“To learn to deal with an emotion, you must actually feel the emotion.

This is a fundamental principle of Learning. I call it Learning by Doing.

To learn to do something you must actually do the thing. 

No amount of reading can replace direct experience.”

“How does this apply to emotions?”

“Every time you experience an unpleasant emotion is an opportunity to practice.

The natural tendency when an unpleasant emotion arises is to distract yourself from it. 


Prioritize it over anything else. 

With Love, Compassion and Curiosity, give it your full attention. Immerse yourself in it. Allow yourself to fully experience it.

Turn every unpleasant emotion into a meditation.

This way, every unpleasant emotion becomes a deliberate rep(etition). The more reps you put in, the better you’ll get at it.

The natural tendency when you anticipate an unpleasant emotion is avoidance of the thing that triggers it. 


Deliberately move toward triggers to create opportunities to practice.”

Internalizing Ideas

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How do I know when I’ve internalized an idea?”

When the idea comes to your mind the moment you need it.

Take the idea that unpleasant feelings are temporary.

If you think it while experiencing an unpleasant feeling, this is your feedback that you’ve internalized it.

This too shall pass.

You have to know in the moment that the feeling will inevitably pass.

This gives you options.

While the feeling lasts, this is your window of opportunity for exploring and working with it.

Always make the most of it.”

On Implementation: Micro-Moments of Positivity

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I implement micro-moments of positivity [<link; short read]?”

“What is the essence of those moments?”


“Precisely. Every micro-moment of positivity is one or more feelings.

This suggests two aspects of the practice:

amplifying those feelings when they occur
generating them when they don’t

You can amplify them through emotional flooding [<link; short read] – or stacking, to use a different metaphoric-model.

Whenever someone makes you smile or laugh for instance, you can access the feelings of Love and Gratitude (Loving Gratitude [<link; short read])

To generate them, you need to get clarity on what they are.

How do you want to feel consistently?

“I want to feel Joyful, Peaceful and Energized, Loving, Playful and Grateful.”

“If you were to make one of them central, what would it be?”


“You can use Love as a gateway to access all others, and you can use all others to find your way back to Love.

Back to your initial question.

What is the essence of the practice?”

“Having as many micro-moments of positivity as possible throughout the day.”

“We might say the purpose is to increase their density.

Local density – how many you access at once.
Global density –  how many times you access them in a day.

We’ve already touched upon local density with emotional flooding. 

To increase global density, connect it – stack it – with your Presence practice.

That’s another practice you want to do as often as possible during a day.

The core of the Presence practice is Centering – connecting with yourself, with your beautiful BodyMind and the Core of your Being. 

Whenever you Center, Breathe, Smile, Expand, and access one or more of those beautiful feelings. 

You’re thus turning every centering-moment into a micro-moment of positivity.”

On discomfort

Be uncomfortable every day of your life. (David Goggins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Embrace discomfort.”

“Derek Sivers calls information expressed as advice, directives. That is a vague directive. Which is not to say that it lacks value.

The most valuable information is that which has an actionable kernel.” 

“What is an actionable kernel?”

“It means an idea that can be put into action.

It can be an implicit kernel, like in your directive, or an explicit kernel

The implicit kernel needs to be identified [values sensitivity], extracted, and given actionable form. The explicit kernel can be put into action immediately.

Let us explore the actionable kernel in this instance. Let’s do it in the form of directives.

What does embracing discomfort mean?

We might say it means,

Cultivate a positive relationship with discomfort.

Still vague, but it suggests that it’s not just a one time thing, but an ongoing process.

We might say it means,

Practice discomfort.

To cultivate a positive relationship with discomfort, you need to practice it. There’s no other way. To increase efficiency, you need to deliberately practice it.

That means,

Move toward discomfort, rather than away from it.

Our natural tendency is to move away from discomfort. This suggests doing the exact opposite [inversion].

The key to the process is repetition and oscillation. The more often you do it, the greater the benefit, as long as every rep(etition) is followed by an appropriate recovery [stress/recovery oscillation]. Every rep that is followed by reflection is a learning cycle [<link; short read].

There’s two ways to get more reps in:

Seek out discomfort.

This means, when given two options, picking the more uncomfortable one.

Create discomfort. 

This means, creating opportunities to practice discomfort. They can be in the form of discomfort challenges.

There’s two kinds of discomfort: physical discomfort, and emotional discomfort. Well, technically both are physical discomfort, but the latter have a very specific signature. 

Dealing with physical discomfort does not transfer to dealing with emotional discomfort. 

In her book 90 Seconds to a Life You Love, Joan Rosenberg identified the most common uncomfortable emotions as being eight in number:


You can do push-ups and pull-ups in the thousands and not get a single step closer to dealing with vulnerability.

Each individual uncomfortable emotion is a practice in itself.

The practice in case of emotional discomfort is to

Fully experience discomfort.

Give it your full attention, lovingly and non-judgmentally, over and over and over and over and over again.

Like meditation.”

“Which of the eight feelings do you struggle with most?”

“Shame and vulnerability.”

Expansive Emotions

Positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind. (Barbara Fredrickson)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I prefer to call them expansive emotions rather than positive emotions.”


“The positive/negative dichotomy implies judgment. 

Most of my life, ‘negative emotions’ made me feel as if there was something wrong with me. Not knowing how to manage them, I distracted myself from them. And by avoiding to face them, I prevented myself from learning how to manage them.

I prefer to use the expansive/constrictive dichotomy.

Expansive emotions expand your awareness.
Constrictive emotions narrow your awareness, thus inviting you to give them your full attention and – kindly and non-judgmentally – to fully experience them.

An important lesson I learned is that both are important.

The pleasant ones feel great.
But it is the unpleasant ones that build confidence and emotional strength.”

On Self-Mastery

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Self-Mastery?”

“What does it make you think of?”

“It makes me think of Willpower and Self-Control.”

“We could say,

Self-Mastery is Discipline.

The capacity to do what needs to be done regardless of how you feel about it. (Positive Willpower)

The capacity to keep your impulses in check and delay gratification. (Negative Willpower)

Discipline is one essential aspect of it.

Now, think what happens when you’re facing a perceived threat in the environment.”

“Your sympathetic system kicks in, which shuts down your prefrontal cortex (cortical inhibition) and triggers the Fight-Flight-Freeze (FFF) mode.”

“To be able to function effectively in this situation requires the capacity to calm yourself down, relax, and regain control. 

Moreover, in the words of George Leonard,

Relaxation is essential for the full expression of power.

“Josh Waitkin has a similar one:

To turn it on, learn to turn it off.

“Same thing.

The better you can turn it off, the more powerfully you can turn in on.

So we could say, 

Self-Mastery is Relaxation Mastery.

This is another essential aspect of it.

And yet another essential aspect of it has to do with emotions.

Most of our failings are due to the incapacity to deal with emotional discomfort

Unpleasant feelings subtly shape the trajectory of your life. Certain things trigger unpleasant feelings, so you avoid them. What you avoid is not the things themselves – they’re neutral –, but dealing with those unpleasant feelings.

The outer obstacle is an illusion. The inner obstacle is all there is.

Your capacity to deal with unpleasant feelings narrows or expands your possibility-horizon.

We could say, 

Self-Mastery is Emotional Mastery.

“Reminds me of a quote by Karla McLaren from her book The Art of Empathy

When your emotional skills are poor, people won’t meet you. They will meet your emotional reactivity and your problems with whichever emotion has arisen.

“That’s my life story.

Only now that I’ve made Emotional Mastery the central focus of my life have I begun to understand it and get better at it. So many people never do.

I still have a very long way to go.”