“Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
Ever felt worried, elated or down, all of a sudden, for no reason? Of course you know there was a reason. It may be a person, some spoken words, a smell or even the arrival of an email.
Most emotions are triggered by something. Previously I’ve commented on how they can be triggered by thoughts and even by posture.
You may not be surprised to know that triggers aren’t always pulled by others. You can pull your own triggers.
Ivan Pavlov first demonstrated the effect of “Classical Conditioning” with his now famous dogs. By ringing a bell at mealtimes, Pavlov’s dogs became so conditioned to eat at the bell that they always salivated when the bell was rung.
Triggers can be deliberately created that deliver results in a similarly poweful and unconscious way. Anthony Robbins calls this “anchoring”.
The technique involves visualising and living the desired state (such as “being unstoppable”), then combining this with an anchor, which can be a hand gesture or exclamation that you don’t ordinarily do.
The implication of being able to reproduce emotional states at will is profound.
Steven Pavlina describes it in this way:
When you understand that you have the innate ability to consciously direct your thoughts to create any feeling you want, whenever you want, you’re not going to make such people rich. But you will be much more free, since you’ll gain the power of conscious control over your own emotional states. This is a skill that takes practice, but it is a learnable one. For example, in a matter of minutes I can get myself to feel any emotion I want, and for those I’ve already anchored, I can put myself into that state in less than 5 seconds. This is nothing unique — experienced actors can do it too. If an actor can laugh uproariously or cry rivers of tears or shout with intense anger over something completely fake, then you can certainly learn to be 100% confident on cue as well (and really experience the genuine emotion).
Being able to invoke your own emotional responses does not make you into an automaton. It does however give you a choice. The choice between being buffeted by the emotion random triggers produce, or the decision to act in an affirming or positive way in the face of adversity.
Oscar Wilde summed it up like this:
“A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”