How Emotions Interact with Thoughts

In this episode Melissa and JJ talk about how our thoughts and emotions coincide with each other.

November 17, 2020
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:18  
So Melissa, last night, I went to go talk to my 14 year old son, aha, just about school, right? learning and all about distance learning, which is new to everyone. And he started doing his distance learning, like, laying down in his bed with his lights off, right?

Melissa Albers  0:42  
That seems productive.

JJ Parker  0:44  
Well, right. He's supposed to be on video calls. And, you know, being a master professional of zoom calls. I was like, you know, just you shouldn't do your calls from your bed. Right? I just felt as a parent and the teacher of our house, I guess that that's not like where he should take those calls. Right? No big not a big deal is like, I just want to like say, hey, let's just say you're Tasker. Yeah. And he responded to that thought with arm. I don't know why you're always on me. You need to stay in your lane.

Melissa Albers  1:32  
You need to stay in your lane.

JJ Parker  1:33  
You need to stay in your lane, and I flippin lost it. It came off the tiger ropes. Oh my god. Like, I can usually stay pretty calm on stuff. But I mean, you know how like teenagers can just push through Oh, yeah, exact little thing. And that was

Melissa Albers  1:52  
flat in no time flat.

JJ Parker  1:54  
And that was it. And so I grabbed his computer, his phone and his iPad, which are his like, most valid, valuable possessions and like, went down in the kitchen. And it's like, I was shaking. Right? I could just feel that, like, adrenaline response, I could just feel those feelings just like surging through me. You know, apart. I was just like, I don't care about the bed thing now where we're all in.

Melissa Albers  2:31  
Yeah, we are all in you and me. Cya.

JJ Parker  2:34  
Yeah, I will show you what the lane is. All this is my lane. The whole thing is my lane.

Unknown Speaker  2:42  
I'm actually the entire freeway.

JJ Parker  2:44  
Right? And I'm getting in my, and I'm getting in my, in my I'm getting in my adult bulldozer and I'm just gonna plow everything down. So, no, so I think you know, all down. Yeah, but, but boy, it really spun me around for a second. I think it's

Melissa Albers  3:05  
interesting, like just talking about this, like, how many times do you go into some situation, whether it's at home, or if it's work or whatever, and you have sort of an agenda in your mind about what's going to happen, like, here are the following bullet points, I'm going to communicate, this is how the situation is going to go. This is how everybody else is gonna respond to my bullet points. Like, we kind of go in with some agenda, like a thinking pattern. Yeah. And then someone interacts with us, and feelings, all of a sudden are present and totally change our capacity to have the message or they just spin us in a totally different direction. And we may not even remember what we were thinking before.

JJ Parker  3:50  
Right? Yeah. Yeah, that is that, that that crazy? Like I, you know, that's a pretty extreme example, right? Yeah. But we all we all come I, you know, in in conversation a lot where I, I think we're going to talk about one thing, and then this, that subject changes, and I feel a little off kilter, like, yeah, I have to finish my one thought before I could move Yeah, somehow to another topic.

Melissa Albers  4:18  
Yeah. And sometimes for me, like, even in my coaching sessions, like I'll have an idea of a topic that really should probably be discussed. So I'll have sort of some thinking around, you know, how to broach the topic so that its objective, and that people can enter into the discussion. And oftentimes, then, the feelings of the topic will just derail objectivity for the individual, and they get these amped up emotions right away. And it could be not, it doesn't even have to be a bad thing or a good thing. It just could be a topic that they have some energy around. Mm hmm. And, boy, you really have to notice that how that affects you too, because You're exactly right. Like for me, if I noticed somebody is really having a hard time or they're, they're getting triggered like you and I use that word a lot? Yeah, they're getting triggered by something and they're having a really strong emotional response. I have to make a conscious decision to stay neutral. Yeah. Because if I wasn't aware, it would be very easy to get swept up in that.

JJ Parker  5:25  
Mm hmm. Yeah. And then you just then if you if you are in a position where you're actually trying to make like a reasoned, logical, yeah, choice. Yeah, those emotions are just like messing with, with your thinking, right? With your reasoning, right? Because you're not really being maybe driven by that part of your brain anymore. Yeah, you're being driven by the Yeah, emotions.

Melissa Albers  5:49  
It's interesting to think about this topic, particularly today, because there's a lot going on in the world. You know, on the day that we're filming this today, we are, you know, about a month out from the presidential election, people are really amped up about that. There's a lot of unrest in the streets, there's still this whole stuff with the pandemic, going back to school, it's starting to get cold out, so we can't be outside. So I think that even when we're trying our very best to keep thinking about the jobs that we have thinking about are things that we're supposed to be thinking about and keeping on the rails, I think that there is this sort of feeling that rolls around inside of us and makes us feel just filled with an ease. Yeah. And I wonder how many people notice that, like, in the moment when they're trying to work? versus how long does it take someone to notice if it's like, creeps up for a

Unknown Speaker  6:43  

JJ Parker  6:44  
Yes, I really like that idea. Because, again, the trigger moments, those are those are flash points, like, yeah, they're pretty easy to recognize in yourself. The ones that, that I think the more subtle feeling stuff, like you're saying there's like, like an example is, you know, like, you're saying everybody, right now maybe has an uneasy feeling, right. Mm hmm. Which means at work, and I've seen this in our team are, they'll be more conservative around decisions. Right? They fail to be a little bit more anxious. Yeah, to make this, is this the right decision? Are we going to be okay, if I make this decision? Is this whole thing going to fall apart? When really The fact is that those that thought patterns coming from their general uneasy feeling it has very little to do with, like, their job, that decision and the

Melissa Albers  7:47  
environment? Right, right.

JJ Parker  7:49  
But that under it's like an undercurrent, right, yeah. Yeah. It's shaping thinking. And so, you know, for me, if I want the team to make some, you know, maybe more, like aggressive or risky decisions. I really have to be, make sure that I'm reminding them that we're making decisions that's affecting. Yeah, like our business. Everything's gonna be okay. It's safe to make riskier decisions. Yeah, no, yeah. Because we know, it's part of a bigger plan. Mm hm. But their default is more conservative right now.

Melissa Albers  8:30  
Yeah. And I think I think really, you know, as we're always talking about self awareness, and how it can really make improvements in our in our way of being particularly in this topic. And we've kind of talked a little bit about this in some other podcasts and some of the other video lessons that we've done, but I think it really bears repeating over and over again, is that being able to understand how your body is responding and how you're feeling to things? Because a lot of times, like I was in a coaching session yesterday, and someone said, I just don't feel very good. Like, I can't pinpoint what it is. That's what they said, I can't pinpoint what it is. I just don't feel good. And for two days, I've been wandering around, like, what is this? Why am I that? Why am I like this? What am I thinking? And it's impacting absolutely everything. Yeah, I think having the awareness of first of all recognizing when we do have some unease, you know, like recognizing it. And I think it's, I think it would be doing ourselves a disservice to make ourselves wrong, for recognizing that we're feeling like that. A lot of times we have these feelings and we want to shove them away. You know, and I think it's just there's a, there's a component here again, where it's like, oh, I'm feeling so uneasy, it's affecting absolutely all of my decisions that I'm making right now.

JJ Parker  9:52  
Yep. And we were talking about this the other day is, especially now that uneasily See, this is turning into fatigue. Right? Like it's Yeah, it's been happening so long. We're all just getting tired. Yeah. Yeah. Emotionally tired. And that's having an effect on. Yeah, are thinking too.

Melissa Albers  10:14  
Yeah, I think, you know, for me what I would really want to be kind of focusing on in this topic, I think something that's really important for us is, so we're talking about how to identify it in our bodies, you know, we feel it, like we feel uneasy, like I always get a stomach ache or I can tell I'm not sleeping well, and I get a headache, or I feel tight across the shoulders, like, I have certain key things that are absolute body triggers for me that say, you're in a state of not feeling easy. And rather than a lot of judgment around that, or trying to pretend like it's not true, I think it's much more beneficial to recognize trace that feeling back, like, where is it coming from. And once I'm figuring out where it's coming from, it's not realistic to try to push it away or to force feed myself a whole load of positive pills. But to just focus on the things that I know can make me feel better. Because the vibration and the energy that I kick things off with people are noticing that in all of us, yep. Whatever we lead with, from our feeling perspective, is absolutely in front of anything that we say, or any of the way we're interacting with people.

JJ Parker  11:34  
Yeah, yeah, that's really, that's really true. So, like, What things do you do? To make yourself feel better? Yeah, like, how do you how do you change that energy for yourself?

Melissa Albers  11:46  
Yeah, I think the first thing that I learned a long time ago is what doesn't work is to try to force myself into having a positive attitude. So the minute I go, Oh, I just don't feel good. What does not work for me? Or really, I don't think it works at all, is to just go Oh, okay, now that I noticed, I'm just gonna, it's fine. Everything's gonna be fine.

JJ Parker  12:07  
Yeah, I'm gonna, I'm, I'm upset now. But so I'm gonna just decide to be not upset.

Melissa Albers  12:12  
Yeah, exactly. No, go. I'm just gonna go run and do something else. So for me, I think just acknowledging, first of all, I don't really feel that great. And then acknowledging how it's impacting the thoughts that I have, the interactions that I have, and the moment that I can label it, then I get my energy away from it. In other words, I don't want to focus on that yucky feeling, I don't want to focus on it. Once I've identified that that's what was happening for me. I very, like I very much move quickly into more general and more positive thinking patterns. Yeah, and not expecting myself to respond 100% in five seconds, but just start, for example, here's like, let me just give a real life example. So if I'm feeling anxious, so we're in the middle of a huge remodel project in a house, and there's a lot of opportunity where there could be anxiety around that. Okay. So if I all of a sudden, notice that I'm having anxiety, the first thing that I can say to myself is okay, I'm feeling really uneasy. What is this about? What is the subject of my thoughts that got me to feeling this way? Oh, it's the it's the, it's the remodel project. Okay. And then I'll notice that I was sort of fixating on certain parts of that project. What if there's water damage and an outside wall? Because we have stucco? What if this What if that what if this, what if that, and that subject of the remodel, I'm focusing on the negative side of that remodel. So I can simply bring myself back and go more general in the same subject, for example, this remodeling project is going to be so beautiful when it's done, I'm so looking forward to this room being light and airy. And I'm so excited that we're doing something to the house because it's been 15 years since the last time we did a project. And while there's some stuff going on, it's just so interesting and fun to see all of the progress every day. So I'm using the exact same point of contention in my heart, but I'm turning it a little bit so that I can start going more general and more on a positive note.

JJ Parker  14:21  
Yeah, that's a really that's a really great example that you're gonna say chocolate

Melissa Albers  14:27  
that's always my example. I worry that people are tired of me saying that. snacks and chocolate. But yeah, I think

JJ Parker  14:37  
those things like snacks and chocolate well make you temporarily feel good. What you're talking about is much deeper than chocolate. I mean, I know that sounds horrible thing to say, yeah, chocolate, but

Melissa Albers  14:48  
Well, I don't know if that's actually true, but for the sake of this podcast, but I think really that the key to all of this is us being able to Get to spending enough time understanding what has us got in our triggered spot? Yeah, but only staying there long enough to identify what it is. Yeah. Because instead of ruminating on it,

JJ Parker  15:12  
yeah, I think it's really interesting when you know, you're using this example of your house, remodeling the anxiety around it. I think it's interesting to think about, why do we have feelings in the first place? Right. Oh, I have these things. Right. Oh, it's like it if you move it back, like, feelings must exist for a reason. Right? Like, yeah, like I hate like I survival reason, right? They're part of humans. Why if Yeah, yeah, we're unnecessary. You know, they wouldn't be part of us. Yeah, exactly. So why do they even exist in the first place? And so I was reading a book about evolutionary biology. That sounds like I mean, it's, you know, it was bad or Harry Potter. And so, one of the things they were talking about in this book is that feelings and emotion, emotional responses are part of survival and procreation. Basically, there are two fundamental things to like, you know, if, if you want to get humans to continue on, you got to make sure they stay alive. Right. And they procreate. Right. And so a lot of emotional responses. The the theory in the, in the book was that a lot of our emotions are fundamentally I, like, built designed to solve for those two things.

Unknown Speaker  16:57  
Yeah. Right.

JJ Parker  16:58  
So for your example, likey, you want a safe house? A safe, secure, structurally sound house? Right? Yeah, you don't want any water damage or structural problems? And these are like, fundamental, like, almost survival things like, yeah, my cave must be secure. But in today's society, some of those in today's environment, I'd say, some of those, like, really fundamental survival, things just aren't very relevant. Right? Yeah, that's right. So

Melissa Albers  17:34  
30 like that fight or flight mentality. You've talked about? Like, it feels like you're sort of around dancing a little around some of that, too.

JJ Parker  17:42  
Yeah, that would be a fight fight or flight. That's like one of those basic instinct things that yeah, that try to keep you alive. Right in dangerous situations. And the fact is, while uncomfortable, a dangerous situation isn't. I wasn't heard in a meeting, right? Yeah, that is relevant. You know, I must fight right or Yeah, or whatever or even like my kids doing his homework in his bed. Now like, you know, the emotional response of that doesn't need to be fight. It can be much easier than that but we have But well, that's what we have. That's what we have to work with.

Melissa Albers  18:25  
Right deep, deep instincts that are Yeah, like right in our DNA is what you're saying like a deep I think they have certain feelings are is in our DNA and has been since the beginning of the human race.

JJ Parker  18:36  
Yeah. Like, I can't tell you. Like I'm not a real big fan of snakes.

Melissa Albers  18:41  
No, I'm not.

JJ Parker  18:48  
I cannot tell you how many times I've like seen our rope on the ground and jumped as if it was a snake, right? Like that. I don't come across snakes like this isn't a part of my daily life. And like we live in Minnesota, and I don't I don't there might I don't even know that there's a deadly snake that is my natural I mean like the worst we would see would be like a tiny garden snake and all

Melissa Albers  19:20  
those gardeners can be really big those Oh, yeah, like the size of very large ropes

JJ Parker  19:25  
right. Very large string but that's one of those things right the the Primal Fear of a snake and and we jump into not get bit by it is not a relevant skill for me to have in my environment. Well, right but it's there. It's there and I and it happens like obviously, we have no ropes at our house. Well,

Melissa Albers  19:55  
and I know this is slightly off topic, but I always say if God wouldn't just put yours or Something on them, they'd be cuter.

JJ Parker  20:05  
But they're there we have, I've got like, I've got this emotional reaction to snakes. And I almost never see a snake. And like, you know, maybe like 1000 times, one time out of 1000 times I think I see a snake. It's actually a snake.

Melissa Albers  20:28  
Right, right.

JJ Parker  20:29  
Right, right. So from an from a biology perspective, like, it doesn't make any sense.

Melissa Albers  20:35  
So it's so so let me just like summarize. So are you saying that you think a lot of the things that we see or our instant reactions to things are not based on reality at all? Yes, but base? Okay.

JJ Parker  20:50  
That's a way smarter way to say it.

Melissa Albers  20:53  
No, no, no. But I think that's interesting, though. So you're right, because you're talking about what you're talking about is how we are very logical beings. And we're always talking in the self awareness journey about, you know, we use our brains so much that our feelings don't have much of a chance to intersect. Yeah, when our brains are in full power, you know, I always say brains are a great tool and a horrible master. And in this case, what you're saying is, you know, what the brain does is a minute that it has something that triggers a feeling the brain or the when the brain sees something, or gets triggered by something is instantly looking to put it into a file folder that it recognizes later. And so and it can elicit really strong emotions or feelings like boom, in the moment.

JJ Parker  21:39  
Yeah. Right. So in my examples, like, it's like, I'm not seeing right, I'm not seeing clearly I'm seeing an illusion, right? Like the snake like the rope, I think as a snake. Yeah, I saw a snake. You know, like, my brain says, Yeah, you just saw snake jump on runaway? Well, that's an illusion. That's not reality. Because the reality is, it's a rope and it's not moving. Yeah. So that kind of thing. I believe we actually encounter all the time. Yeah, we respond to a thing. That's not reality. Yeah. Now, yeah. When you get into philosophy, you start talking about how that is an illusion, or you have a delusional mind. Yeah, right. Yep. Yeah, you're making up stories, you're making up stories. And it happens with things that are maybe very physical, like a, like a snake example. It happens in social contexts all the time. Yeah, all the time. Because, again, part of our job, you know, millions of years ago, part of human survival tuning was also living in tribes, and you had to rely on other people. That's like how we got here. Right? Exactly. So the social dynamics are a part of that emotional reaction to and you're gonna have a illusion in those scenarios, too, because there was response, emotional responses to keep you in a survival state them too.

Melissa Albers  23:11  
And you know what you see that in, you see that in the workplace all the time, JJ, like, I'm totally tracking with you. Because I think that like in situations where there's interactions going on or decisions having to be made, or teams working together, it is very common for someone to get triggered by something that they think someone is doing to them, or that person is acting like this, because of this is what happens to me every time and it's the exact same thing, they start experiencing something that isn't actually occurring, because maybe once before they did, or they're looking for substantiating evidence to a belief that they have that isn't right.

JJ Parker  23:52  
Yeah. Yep. Yeah, it's really, it's really fascinating. Yeah,

Melissa Albers  23:57  
it is just the this idea of how our feelings interact with our thoughts, just an everyday common things. That, you know, I I'm always beating the drum of like, just, you know, that self awareness, that conscious knowledge of how you are in the moment, having more of that really allows a lot more objectivity. And I think it gives us a chance to not have to emotionally dive headfirst into a shallow cement pool, because we have an instant reaction about something because we're in sort of a state that's not actually true.

JJ Parker  24:34  
Yep. Yep. Yeah, well, it's good practice for everybody to to really stay, you know, in the moment, like really, when, when that when those things happen, just take take that second flag try it was Yeah, we say like, get a gap. Get a gap in there.

Melissa Albers  24:52  
Yeah. Yeah, just ask. Isn't that interesting, like you have a really strong feeling or a reaction to something, then rather than going on And if you can sit back and just like you said, create a gap. And I, the way I offer that in coaching is to say, ask yourself, Well, isn't that interesting? Like I just had a really strong emotion Isn't that interesting? Because it just gives a little space. And with a little space, then we can start recognizing what is the subject of my thoughts that have got me so wound up right now? And can I reframe them gently and in a smaller way to start feeling better, because again, every time we feel bad and try and push something out, it doesn't work nearly as well. We have to feel good to make good things happen. It's just the way that it is,

JJ Parker  25:42  
you know, well, I'm gonna practice that. And in the meantime, I'm going to go round up all the ropes in my house and

Melissa Albers  25:51  
hide them and you can come to my house anytime if you want to see some garter snakes, because we got snakes.

Unknown Speaker  25:58  
You will hear me from across Minneapolis every single time.

Melissa Albers  26:05  
If you've enjoyed this podcast, check us out on the web at the self awareness journey.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Facebook

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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