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Flipping The Switch: How To Detach From Your Emotions

change psychology Nov 19, 2017

In my last post I talked about how our emotions often derail us completely from our habits and routines because they are so powerful.  I also talked about how a lot of those emotions are present due to unfulfilled emotional and existential needs and how by asking ourselves some important questions we can get to the root of those unfulfilled needs and lessen the grip negative emotions can have on our life and our behaviors.  If you missed that post here is a link so you can catch up.  

Today, I am going to talk about a strategy I use to help regain a little bit of control over my emotions, which is what I call flipping the switch on my emotions.  It's so simple to do that you might even laugh it off and label me a quack.  But it is a method I use not just with regard to my fitness and nutrition decisions, but in all kinds of situations in my career, my businesses, even sometimes in my personal life and relationships.  

So, what is flipping the switch and why is it so effective (at least for me)?  Flipping the switch allows me to detach from my emotions in a moment when my emotions might be getting in the way of me making a sound decision.  Between fear based emotions and ego based emotions our decision making skills can be a train wreck (mine included), so being able to somehow detach from those emotions during a critical moment and reframe the facts and details of that situation from a place of logic rather than emotion can really help to improve our decision making skills.  

 Flipping the switch is incredibly easy.  It is just a simple mental gesture that can be used during a moment when you realize that you are having a tug of war between your emotions and a good decision (like eating ALL of the desserts at Thanksgiving).

Here's how I do it:

Step 1  Realize that the decision being made is an important one and acknowledge that your emotions (which may really just feel like urges at the time) may be pushing you toward a poor choice.

Step 2  Take a brief moment to imagine that there is a switch somewhere in or on your body.  Imagine that the switch once flipped will turn off all emotions and reroute all decision making power and processes to the logic part of the brain.  Visualize the switch.  Maybe the switch is on your heart.  Maybe it's on your stomach.  Maybe it's on the back of your head.  Maybe it's not ON your body, but it is just something you visualize internally.    

Flip the switch. Literally. Flip the switch.

Step 3  Flip the switch.  Literally.  Flip the switch.  Don't be afraid to reach up to your heart or to your stomach or the back of your head and literally make a motion with your hand as if you are flipping the switch on your emotions.  Most people will just think you are scratching an itch.  If you are surrounded by people and you don't feel comfortable physically flipping the switch, then visualize in your mind the switch being flipped.  

Step 4  Now that your emotions have been turned off...reanalyze the situation using only the logic part of your brain.  What is the most optimal decision to be made for YOU.  Determine what the right decision is based on facts and logic completely free of emotion and run with it.

That's it!  Super simple and surprisingly effective.  In fact, here is a quick story about our first Thanksgiving get together of the year from last night where I used this exact technique to save myself from a carb and sugar coma:

Last night we went to my wife's sisters house for an early Thanksgiving meal since some of the family will be traveling on the actual day of Thanksgiving.  My wife, Joani, was tasked ahead of time with preparation of ALL of the deserts and OH did she hit a home run.  

We had fresh made pumpkin pie.  We had home made chocolate truffles.  We had home made apple crisp.  We had home made pumpkin roll.  Oh and to top it all off we had slow churned vanilla ice cream to pair with all of these amazing desserts.  Needless to say there was an epic battle between my emotions and my brain.  

My wife slaved for hours in the kitchen at home preparing all of these desserts.  Even before then she slaved for hours even deciding what recipes she would make.  If I didn't have any of them at all (not even a bite) then her feelings might be hurt.  After all she was quite proud of her accomplishments and if I don't partake she might feel slighted.  Further more if I didn't partake everyone else at the table might feel uncomfortable.  They  might think I am looking down on all of them while they indulge in not one but ALL of these amazing desserts with ice cream on top to boot.  

So there I was sitting at the Thanksgiving table with all of our family as they were passing the dishes around one by one loading up the plates.  I had a big decision to make.  I felt the emotional side welling up and pushing me toward what I knew deep down was the wrong decision for my goals at this very point in time.  I started to reach for the pumpkin roll and even picked it up with my hand and then I realized what was happening.  So I stopped briefly and I visualized the switch to my emotions, and I flipped that little sucker off.  I flipped it off and passed that pumpkin roll right on down the line.  

It really is amazing the kinds of things we can do with our mind when we get creative.  In fact, there is a whole field of study out there around techniques just like this and I encourage you to try it for yourself.

Don't feel like a quack.  That is your emotional self talking.  That's your fear and your ego working to keep you where you are, but where you are is NOT where you want to be.  Be bold.  Try something new like this fun little technique and see if it works for you.  

Until next time here's to wishing all of you and yours the very best Thanksgiving there ever was!

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