The Physiology Empowerment Exercise begins at 3:53
“Emotion is created by motion”
No, I didn’t coin this phrase, though I could have. This phrase was actually coined by Tony Robbins. For those of you familiar with his work, I have been a fan of his contribution in personal development for the past 3.5 years. The are many gems I have taken from his synthesized strategies, but this will be my primary focus.
This goes back to my first post when I mentioned how I tend to behave in ways that reinforce sadness when I happen to feel sad, and it also goes for the contrary. It’s a habit that I created, though not consciously, but I have been more aware of it, especially after hearing this phrase a few years back. I came across “emotions are created by motion” while I was listening to Personal Power II, which is one of Tony’s most popular audiotapes – perhaps the most successful self-help audiotape of all time in terms of sales. I am deciding to go through the tape again, since I stopped around Day 20 my first time around. I am currently on Day 2, and two of my actions for the assignment on this day are to complete this post and to also create a video to complement this post for the more visually responsive.
I love to use my body to communicate and realize that I use my body more the more enthusiastic or – should I say, the more I’m experiencing a positive emotion. When I am experiencing a positive emotion, I have a tendency to want to do something and that something could be to simply go for a walk. I really enjoy going for peaceful walks. In fact, I call it one of my hobbies. Or maybe I want to go to the gym and get a nice body weight workout. Or maybe I want to Skype with a friend since I am in Japan and most of my connections are in the States. In any of these cases, I am engaging in something that enriches my quality of life (socially, spiritually, and/or physically).
Now, it’s the opposite when I feel downsome. I am usually more likely to stay inside and want to watch television or try to sleep more, which aren’t very constructive ways of dealing with my, say, sadness. I am less likely to go to the gym when I am feeling sad (though, I’m more likely to exercise when I feel mad). I have more energy when I’m mad. It’s more of an explosive emotion, yes? But then, my mind goes on a rampage and I focus on what this teacher said to me and how she didn’t have a right to do that because she’s not a good teacher herself blah blah blah blah. So maybe I’m getting a nice physical workout, but at the same time I am diffusing the blame and sending out negative energy, which is causing me stress. With anger, I find meditation to be very helpful. I use the Silva Method’s 3-2-1 technique to relax my body and then my mind, followed by maybe the Three Fingers Technique or Mirror of the Mind Technique. It’s important for me to relax when I experience anger. Meditation has been a successful avenue for me to reduce stress, putting me in a calm state to seek out worthy solutions, not ones stemming from high-strung emotions. In fact, I can’t recall any constructive solutions when I felt angry in the past. Back to sadness, eh?
But when I’m sad, it’s much harder for me to want to do anything constructive. When I feel sad, my body definitely changes in posture and breathing than when I am feeling more positive. My sadness may induce slouched shoulders, shallow breathing, droopy eyes, perhaps less eye contact, and less gestures when I communicate (I use my hands a lot when I am enthusiastically interacting with people. In fact, during the demo session before I landed my job here in Japan, the recruiter responded that I gesture like an Italian). The second these disempowering reactive behaviors take place, I am not conscious of it. It may take a little while before I recognize my own bodily reflexes to sadness. I usually detect it with my breathing at first. It’s quite shallow. So, I adjust my breathing and take long, deep breaths. This is the first physiological change I most often do when sadness creeps in: to breathe first. Our bodies are so miraculous in that it does so much for us automatically, yet being conscious of breathing can change my state of mind pretty rapidly. Meditation and other yogic practices hold a deep emphasis on breathing, and for good reason.
So, you can probably guess that when I feel sad, I do my best to remind myself of this phrase: “emotion is created by motion.” It’s a great incantation too. Then I adjust my physiology into one of confidence. That means my shoulders go back; my chest comes out so that my posture is erect; my eyes open up and I do so by telling myself to express aliveness through my eyes; I smile, even if it has to be forced (this is a matter of conditioning our reflexes so that it can evolve into a conscious response. It’s our responsibility to harness emotions that we desire. Stephen Covey breaks down responsibility into response•ability. And so he puts it that responsibility is the ability to choose our responses. Awesome); I move my hands around like the Italian inside me, even if nobody is there to talk to. So, say I’m sad and alone in my apartment. I’m talking to myself then…and engaging my entire body when I am communicating to myself. Sound strange? I’ve never thought of being told I’m normal as a compliment. Strange is cool, align your perception, and watch it unravel.
But obviously it’s good to know what you do with your body when you are, say, sad.
Here’s a little exercise from Personal Power II.
So, just imagine feeling sad. What are you doing with your body? How are your shoulders? Where are you looking? How’s your breathing?
Then imagine feeling energized and confident and put your body into that state. What are you doing with your body? How are your shoulders? Where are you looking? How’s your breathing?
Then go back to imagining sadness and adjust your body into a sad state.
Then jump back into feeling confident and energized.
Go back and forth from sad to feeling bright and confident.
This exercise provides contrast and can give you an idea as to what you do with your body during specific emotional states.
Anyway, if you’re interested, give this exercise a try. Then after you see the difference between your behaviors in a disempowering and empowering state, you can try adjusting your physiology when so-called shit hits the fan.
Then perhaps, you can experience how your body can influence your emotional state. Hence, “emotion is created by motion.”