Could all your problems be fixed by getting your elementary math right? Well, Chip Conley suggests that we can distill all our emotions into simple equations as a way of better understanding ourselves and finding solutions to the issues that plague us. This article discusses some of the practical ways through which you can use emotional equations to change your life and also help your coaching clients to transform their own lives too.
Break Down Feelings into Their Constituents
The first step to using emotional equations to solve emotional and life issues is knowing what you are feeling and breaking it down into smaller components. For example, Conley suggests that despair can be quantified by subtracting meaning from the suffering you are experiencing. Or to put it in simple math;
Despair = Suffering – Meaning
If you place different numbers to replace the emotions in the equation above, you begin to see how a change in one variable can alter the other elements in the equation.
For example, 10 (Despair) = 15 (Suffering) – 5 (Meaning)
If you attribute more meaning to the suffering that you are undergoing, then the magnitude of despair reduces. For instance, if the meaning increases from 5 to 8, then the despair will reduce from 10 to 7 (15-8=7).
To bring this closer home, think about having to carry a bag of sand weighing 50 kilos up a hill. That weight will have you huffing and panting every step of the way because you may not see any meaning in your exertion. However, if your child weighing 50 kilos were injured and you had to carry him or her up the same hill to your car in order to drive the child to the hospital, then that weight wouldn’t seem so heavy, would it?
That is a practical example of how meaning can change your perception of how heavy the same number of kilos can be! Think of how you can apply this habit of breaking emotions into their constituent parts expressed as an equation and you may find it easier to deal with what you are going through by adjusting the variable in that equation.
In the same way, probe your coaching clients and help them to come up with simple equations to express what they are going through. In this way, finding a solution may become a lot easier due to the clarity gained.
Question Yourself About Emotions You Have Learned (and How They Can Serve You)
We are largely emotional beings who would like to think that we are logical. If you don’t think this is the case, haven’t you heard the phrase “the heart wants what the heart wants”? This goes to show that no amount of logic can sway our emotions from what we have decided.
The next step after acknowledging that our emotions play a big role in every decision we make is to use our understanding of emotional equations to make our emotions serve us rather than do us a disservice.
Start by asking yourself what emotions you learned each day, week or month. Did you learn perseverance? Patience? Kindness? Whatever emotion it is, ask how you can harness it for the better.
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For example, if you learned kindness, come up with different situations in which you can use it more to improve your relationship with your workmates, significant other, kids or anyone else that you interact with.
This deliberate program to use specific emotions to your benefit will not only make you more self-aware, but you will also grow your ability to nurture emotions that are helpful while taking control of those which are not.
Start Seeing Your Emotions As Muscles
Why do you work with a trainer when you go to the gym? Among other things, he or she helps you to focus on different muscle groups for an overall improvement in your fitness level.
In the same way, start looking at your emotions as some type of muscles which you need to pay selective attention to. If you have a low score on a desirable emotion, start practicing that emotion so that this “muscle” gets stronger.
This doesn’t only apply to you but to your coaching clients as well. Does your client have a history of angry outbursts at work that get them fired time and again? A referral to an anger management class will help them to get stronger in beneficial emotions while getting a hold on their anger.
Look at Failed Relationships from the Lens of Emotional Equations
Breaking up with your significant other can push the strongest one among us to the very edge. People feel lost, they doubt themselves, blame themselves and undergo an emotional rollercoaster for periods that can vary from weeks or months to even years (depending on who is going through the aftermath of a breakup).
Remember, we stated that the meaning we attribute to different events determines how we emotionally respond to those events. In the same vein, looking at your failed relationship from the perspective of emotional equations can hold the key to coming out of that situation stronger.
For example, did you get comfortable in that relationship and you gave up on your dream simply because your ex-partner wasn’t supportive? The end of the relationship could now tip the equation in favor of chasing your dream and experiencing fulfillment in ways you had never imagined! Additionally, the breakup could be an opportunity for you to think deeply about what you stand for and the type of person who can help you be who you really are.
When you or your coaching clients start viewing failed relationships from this angle, things start looking up and it gets easier to move on. As a coach, you know that you can’t move forward if you are still holding onto the past (or the past is still holding onto you!). Once again, changing how you perceive an event radically changes the other factors in the emotional equation you are looking at or experiencing.
More Gratitude = More Happiness + Joy
You may have heard the verse “As a Man Thinketh in His Heart, So is He” from the Bible. I am no theology expert, but that verse simply means that your thoughts (or feelings for that matter since there is even a reference to the heart) define who you are.
A lot of people go around looking at the glass as half empty instead of being thankful that half of that glass contains their choice liquid (wine, fresh grape juice or sparkling water, for example).
Emotional equations teach us that by shifting our focus to what we have rather than what we lack, we will be more joyful and happier. As you may know, joy and happiness are contagious, so they end up bringing more situations that increase our own joy and happiness.
I remember watching a video clip someone sent to me on WhatsApp showing a guy who gets onto a crowded train and starts laughing while watching something on his iPad. The reaction around him was unbelievable; as his laughter got deeper and more uncontrollable, those around him started by exchanging amused looks, then they smiled and then one by one, all burst out laughing! Not a single one of them saw what he was laughing at, but they all laughed as deeply as he did.
You and your coaching clients can learn from the example of that man. You can start by listing down at least five things that you are grateful for each day, and expand this to an extent that you see something to be grateful for in everything you experience.
As you feel this gratitude, you will be transformed into a happier person who is a joy to be around. This will also happen to your coaching clients as they practice more gratitude in their lives.
All in all, emotional equations aren’t a magic wand that will make all your problems go away. Rather, they give you an additional tool that you can use to understand yourself and your coaching clients so that the issues being dealt with become clearer, and therefore solvable. Give this a try, and pay it forward!
To Your Success,
Jairek Robbins & Team PCU
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