Chanelling powerful emotions can enhance your potential

Our resident psychologist ponders how to thrive in this high-pressure life.

Dr Nick Baylis: PRWeek's resident psychologist

Your greatest source of self-motivation comes from creatively channelling the energy of your most powerful emotions.

That emotional energy comes not only from your deepest miseries – the fear, shame, anger, jealousy, regret, loneliness, rejection – but also from your dearest passions, such as the loves, beauties, treasured friendships and all that most cheers you and gives you hope. 

Drawing upon the pains and pleasures of these two equally necessary and natural wellsprings of emotional energy, you can muster sufficiently powerful self-motivation to make dramatic improvements to your quality of life. Those powerful emotions are sending you a message: "Pay attention, this is vitally important to you.

"The most serious mistake we can make is to try to ignore or repress our emotions, perhaps by routinely anaesthetising them by engaging in the sort of consumption that numbs or represses our feelings and so undercuts the natural energy that our positive transformation would rely upon. 

Often there are clues to your trapped, yet-to-be-channelled emotional pains and unexplored passions in the sorts of psychosomatic illnesses you might be prone to: the skin conditions, migraines, sleepless nights, sexual problems, IBS, hyper-anxiety or depression, any of which might be created in your mind’s attempt to prompt you to take satisfying action to honour your needs.

Action, after all, is the medium through which you most engage with the world around you. You are best defined by what you create, rather than by what you consume.

The branded clothes and music collection don’t speak up for you nearly as well as how and with whom you choose to spend your time.

Likewise, words can be a good beginning, and perhaps a fitting end, but they are not the stuff in the middle. They are not what holds life together and takes it forward. An idea isn’t made whole until you’ve done something about it. Good communication isn’t about the words you say or write, it is about what you choose to do.

Helping someone move house or weed their garden – that brand of creative helpful action – is the best form of "body language".This is why "wellbeing" is all about "well-doing" – developing the will and the skill to channel life’s challenges and opportunities, the setbacks and successes, the tragedies and triumphs, so as to craft their energy into something of which you can be proud.

On which note, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "Active, successful natures act not according to the dictum ‘know thyself’, but as if there hovered before them the commandment: ‘Will a self and thou shalt become a self’."With this in mind, imagine how your emotional energies have drawn back the bow-string of your "beautiful revenge", and the arrow is ready to fly in the service of some positive, life-improving action. "Beautiful revenge" means rather than ruminating on the hurts, hard-done-bys and imprisonments, you choose to do something creative with their energy.

In the unparalleled Harvard Study of Adult Development that followed 814 lifetimes over 65 years, it is noteworthy that the healthiest individuals in every arena of their lives (such as income, close relationships and physical vigour) were those who learned to channel their anger into fuelling creative action – individuals who seemed to embody a spirit of "I’m so angry about this, dammit, I’m going to put things right in some beautiful and satisfying way".

It would seem to be a law of human nature that the more you do that is creative, the more you become capable of doing. Through creative action, you don’t fulfil your potential, you expand it.

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