Mastering life’s changes

The only constant is change and the only thing that changes is you.


The world has been the same since the beginning. It is always a competition for resources and living. It is always a hustle and bustle. Yet – somehow we think that our changes are extraordinary. We all have problems, we all have issues and we all have to cope with life’s daily churn.


The changes that happen in life are invariably accompanied by emotions. Emotions are the subconscious expression of that which happens around us and that affects us. Our emotions are formed by what we are exposed to when we are young and shape us for the rest of our lives. As such it is almost like “software”. But sometimes it is necessary for us to upgrade our emotion-ware to the next version, especially as we grow older and wiser and need to achieve more.


Just because emotions come up, it does not mean that there is no art or science to mastering life’s changes – but merely that it is a journey that does not have to be overly daunting.


The key to this adventure is to realise that you are fully in control your state of mind and that with this knowledge you can direct your own destiny.


Sheer will and hope can overcome adversity. Enthusiasm, spirit and passion can open opportunities. Anger and frustration can and does close doors (sometimes they need to be closed). Patience can overcome many complex situations while knowledge can open more doors than most would expect.


Once you start realising that activities and emotions can direct the course of events around you, you can start being more spiritually and emotionally intelligent about your actions, words and emotional state.


With a greater understanding of what drives the actions that you have from a subconscious level you will stop running away from situations will change into engaging with them and although the emotions may still be hard – in time you can learn that they do not need to be and that you can keep on going forward. You may find yourself running to situations to seek the best out of your interactions with people and situations.


A basic observation that acting differently in different situations leads to outcomes that are different. If you rush into a complex situation and come out crying – then you were not in control and the situation controlled you. If you rush into a complex situation, keep an open mind and assert your thoughts at the right time – the power of the situation is reversed because you observe, orient yourself and direct the outcome.


There may be powerful personalities in life that have better control of emotions and that can direct the outcomes of situations more directly. You must study how you interact with these people and how they respond to your words, actions and emotions. You may be surprised to find that it is often “pre-programmed” and that they have habitual responses to similar situations. This arises from years of working with people and is often referred to as your “social intelligence”.


So the first thing to understand is what are the emotions that arise. Basic research shows that there the primitive emotions include being surprised, sadness, happiness, joy, contempt, disgust, fear and anger. Some also add attraction, repulsion and pride as emotions.


Most people react to situations giving rise to emotions in a negative way by shaming, blaming, embarrassing, judging, discrediting or dividing.


On a positive level we respond to emotions through love, pleasure, happiness, success, pride.


There are many schools of thought and models in emotional intelligence and two that is of particular interest


The first model is the branch model of emotional intelligence which portraits four key areas or branches as critical to becoming more effective at controlling and directing emotions. In a sense the model gives a progression and asks its user to assess “how competent am I at this level”. If you apply this to different emotions it may assist in moving to the next level.




The initial, most basic, area has to do with the nonverbal reception and expression of emotion. The capacity to accurately perceive emotions in the face, voice, movement or expression of others provides a crucial starting point for more advanced understanding of emotions. Do you know when you are happy and when you are sad and do others recognise that this is the case?


To get better at expressing your emotions you need to make sure that you are expressing them. Do you gage if others are re-acting how they are because of their emotions and can you start looking beyond the emotions to the underlying issues? Perceiving your own emotion and the emotion of others is a practical skill that you can practice at any time.


This opens the gate to the second branch.





Does your emotions guide your thinking. The idea is that if you are feeling emotions you need to understand why you are feeling them. Mood swings may help for creativity but one must also understand that it may have a deeper cause that could be emotional, spiritual or physical. To understand where an emotion comes from it to be able to make it stronger or weaker and to invoke it at will. By going deeper into the emotion it unlocks new thinking and new possibilities. By focusing on the emotion and separating it from the underlying cause you may be able to direct it more effectively and start directing your response.


By using emotions to think you open the gate to the third branch.





Emotions convey information: Happiness usually indicates a desire to join with other people; anger indicates a desire to attack or harm others, or a fear of being alone; fear indicates a desire to escape, hope is frustration that has become inevitable and hate is usually love gone bad. Each emotion conveys its own pattern of possible messages, and actions associated with those messages. A message of anger, for example, may mean that the individual feels treated unfairly. The anger, in turn, might be associated with specific sets of possible actions: making peace, attacking, retribution and revenge seeking, or withdrawal to seek calmness. Being angry may not be good or bad – it is just being. By being in a situation and being able to distance yourself from your anger you can control the situation and not be under the power of your emotion.


Understanding emotional messages and the actions associated with them is one important aspect of this area of skill. It is then also possible to start shaping how you re-act. Lets say that when you feel threatened you usually seek empathy from the other person and expose your weaknesses. What if you start re-acting differently by asserting yourself, challenging the other person or bringing facts to bear on the situation? Each of these responses is different from the original response and will have a different outcome.


Once a person can identify such messages and potential actions, the capacity to reason with and about those emotional messages and actions becomes of importance as well. Fully understanding emotions involves the comprehension of the meaning of emotions, coupled with the capacity to reason about those meanings and to choose the actions that would bring a desirable outcome from that point.


That opens the fourth gate.




Finally, emotions can be managed and directed. If you understand that emotions convey information then you can use them to convey information. To the extent that it is under voluntary control, a person may want to remain open to emotional signals so long as they are not too painful, and block out those that are overwhelming. In between, within the person’s emotional comfort zone, it becomes possible to regulate and manage one’s own and others’ emotions so as to promote one’s own and others’ personal and social goals. The means and methods for emotional self-regulation has become a topic of increasing research in this decade. Sometimes this may mean accepting the emotion and sometimes this may mean fully embracing the emotion and amplifying it.


People respond to how you respond. Research shows that within 3-7 minutes of a conversation starting people have fully absorbed the emotional states of people around the table subconsciously and have started acting on an emotional level. This means that if you remain calm – others will become calmer by you just being there.




Life changes lead to emotional changes. Being more aware of how emotions work allows one to start channelling and directing them to the point that they can start working for you.


When you start changing your emotions – your life starts changing by the way that others react to you.