Ep #6: Emotions 3.0 - Generating Positive Feelings


Welcome back to It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight. As we discussed last week, our brains are hardwired to be negative, but all is not lost. On this week's episode, we’re all about feeling good and learning how to use the Model to create positive thinking around food and our weight!  

Are you even aware of when you’re feeling bad or feeling good? And when you are feeling good, are you looking at what’s happening in your brain? Probably not yet, but after today's episode, you will discover how to connect thoughts in your mind to feelings in your body and notice how those feelings inspire or prevent action. 

Join me this week as I share a plan – a foolproof plan – to generate positive emotions, even in negative situations. 

Download a Free Worksheet to help you get started with analyzing your feelings. If you have any questions about this process, please email them to me at pat@beauprecoaching.com

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why we think our thoughts are true.
  • What Emotions 3.0 is and how you can get it.
  • How to "install" more positive thoughts.
  • The steps you can take to start identifying how thoughts feel in your body.
  • How you can retrain your brain’s negative bias.

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight, a podcast for women approaching 60 who have been successful at everything but reaching their weight loss goals. Tune in each week for tools and strategies to help you lose weight, create a strong body, and support a healthy mind. Here's your host, certified weight and life coach, Pat Beaupre Becker.

Hello my darlings. So good to be back. I want to share with you an event that I'm participating in, live, in person, in northern California, in the sweet little town of Benicia. And it is called Flying in Formation: Workshops to Lift Your Life. So I have been meeting with this group of women, we're coaches and creative, and healers and writers, since about January of 2013. And we are embarking on a series of workshops that we are calling Workshops to Lift Your Life.

You know, one of the ways we refer to each other is as honkers, and basically, we have embraced this idea of being the V shaped flying geese, and we have learned so much about how this is such a perfect vision for a group of women supporting each other because when one goose flaps its wings, it actually creates an uplift for the goose behind it. And flying in a V formation gives each goose like a 75% greater flying range than if they were flying alone. It's kind of crazy.

So together, we can get further, we can get higher, and we really appreciate this idea because we've actually done this for each other over the years. We know 50% of the time we feel good, 50% of the time we feel not so good. And as we have travelled together since 2013, we have been there for each other when some of us have had down times and some of us have had good times.

So we really are encouraging you, if you're interested in working and seeing what it's like to be with coaching, we have a workshop called Reigning in Your Inner Critic, we have one called Women, Self-Confidence, and the Brain. We have Going from Constant Yes to Contented Yes, and Exploring What Makes You Tick in Work and Life. We will also be providing lunch, and over lunch we're going to have a couple of conversations, one about change and one about the magic of aging. So I hope you are around, if you're in the Bay area, please join us and go to www.flyinginformation.org.

Okay, so last week I got very personal for all of you former emotional eaters. I actually asked you to call yourself a student of my brain, body, emotions, connection, instead of labeling yourself as an emotional eater. And the purpose of that was to give your brain a new way of looking at an old problem. So we discussed practicing negative emotions and I hope you were able to do some of that work. It's really an incredible investment in your time to understand that it's okay to feel a negative emotion.

But this week, we're going to talk about feeling good. And you might ask, "Well, why do I need you to help me feel good?" And I'm going to challenge you to look at if you are even aware of when you're feeling good or feeling bad. And when you are feeling good, are you looking at what's happening in your brain? So we talked about the model, or the sequence where your circumstance happens. Life happens, we have a thought about it, those thoughts we have create a feeling in us, and that feeling drives us to action, or sometimes inaction, and then we add up all of those actions or that inaction and it gives us a result.

So knowing that, doesn't it make sense to try and figure out how you can create positive, motivating emotions? I want to tell you something that happened yesterday. I was doing my work and I was having trouble staying focused, and I noticed, I kept thinking, "God, I'm at the end of my rope, I can't do this." And then I would stop and then I would come back and I would work a little bit longer and it'd be like, "I'm all out of juice", right? And then I would stop. And it was really impacting my work. Don't you think that when you think, "I'm at the end of my rope", it's going to cause me to stop working? It's like, well, what's happening? Where's the rope? What does that even mean, "I'm at the end of my rope"?

Well, I was recently working with a client who discovered her thought, and her thought was, "This is just not working for me". And of course, when she believed, "This is just not working for me", she was not taking the action she needed to take in order to follow her plan. So the thing that's amazing is we believe these thoughts. We think that our brain's just observing a truth, and that is the most incredible thing I'm going to share with you is that it's not a fact, it's not a truth. It's just a sentence that we're saying in our head, and the problem is that sentence is creating an emotion that's either preventing us or encouraging us and allowing us to take the next action.

So another example, let's say you want to go to the gym and you say to yourself, "I'm going to go to the gym twice this week." And then the day comes, and you're thinking, "I'm too tired. Even though I wanted to go to the gym, it's just not going to work for me today." Well, this is obviously not going to get you to go to the gym, right? So if you just rely on those thoughts that are pretty much random sentences that are coming in your head and you believe them as facts, you will not be able to reach your goal.

So I know that when you are working towards a goal of weight loss, you have to do certain things. You have to choose nutritious foods. You have to get exercise. You have to plan for your meals in advance. You have to make sure that you go shopping in order to have the food you need to eat. Now, these tiny, seemingly simple thoughts, they are read by your brain as an observation of the fact. "This is not working for you, so stop it", your brain will say. "It's too hard to go to the gym so don't go", your brain says. "I'm at the end of my rope. Jump to safety." That's what my brain says.

This is the problem is that we to overcome what is known, that our brain has a negative bias. We've talked about this in the past because it's always seeking danger because it needs to survive, and that's just how it works. And this is why you're here today and why I'm here today. Our ancestors heeded all those danger signs and they survived. And that's no small feat.

So your body thinks it has to prepare for when there's no more food, so it says, "Eat now." And your brain thinks if you feel any discomfort, it says, "Find comfort now." Rick Hanson, who's both a Buddhist and a neuroscientist, explains this negative bias and he uses the image of a funnel. And let's say all of your thoughts and feelings are falling into this funnel, and your negative feelings, they're like Velcro and they stick to the side of the funnel. And then your positive feelings, they're like Teflon and they slip right through and out of vision. So with that image of the Velcro and the idea that your negative thoughts are going to be more difficult, your brain wants to pay attention to them, it gives us some insight in how we might hack the system or use the system to our benefit.

So in this training, which now I'm calling, Feelings 3.0, you are going to activate your brain, right? We're going to set the stage so that we can establish new neural structures in your brain. And the two workaround images I want you to have of this funnel with the negative feelings stuck like Velcro is I want you to think of two images. Whichever one works for you, whether you're an indoor person or an outdoor person, you can pick either one, or I use both of them. And one is the image of a computer program. When you get a computer program, you actually - let's say you buy it, even if you buy it online, you have to install that program onto your computer and you usually have to click run and then you have to wait while the program is installing, and that's what we're going to do with your positive feelings. We're going to install them.

We really have to take the time when we have that positive thought to really feel that feeling and install it in our body. Another visual image that I really like is the idea of building a fire. So we have these thoughts that's like the kindling, right? And then we have all these beliefs, and the beliefs are like the logs on the fire, and then the result of that fire is a feeling. And then what we want to do is we want to take time to get the warmth of the fire. We don't want to build the fire and then walk away and stand in the cold, right? We want to build the fire and we want to feel the warmth. And these are the two images I'll be referring to as we talk about installing positive emotion.

So the brilliant thing about this is you don't actually need any equipment to do this, you already have this incredibly valuable, free tool called your brain and your imagination. And what I want you to do with this brain and imagination is to learn to generate positive feelings with your thoughts. We're going to learn to install positive feelings with our attention and our vision, our imagination, and we're going to give more attention so that we can actually feel those emotions sinking in, or as I say, feel the warmth of the fire. We're going to create evidence to make sure that we can prove to our brain that these thoughts are true, and then as a result, we're going to create a competence in generating positive emotions. And the more competent you have; the more confidence will actually grow from that.

Because what I hope is that you will see that all your feelings are valuable. Your positive feelings and your negative feelings. So we learn how to tolerate our negative feelings and we learn how to generate our positive feelings. So I created a worksheet called Emotions 3.0, and you can grab a copy at www.never2late.info/emotions3-0. So how do we create a positive emotion? I'll take you through the steps.

So step one is I like to think of a goal. Choose a goal that will really help you to understand this from a very practice point of view. So let's say your goal is to lose 50 pounds. Now, step two is what feelings would guarantee that you will do everything you need to do to achieve that goal. What are the things you're going to have to do? You'll have to create a plan, you're going to have to stick to that plan, you're going to have to shop for whole foods, you're going to learn how to prepare simple meals, you might have to learn what it's like to feel hunger. Like, are you really hungry or are you emotionally hungry? You might have to be curious to learn about your emotions. You might have to learn about your desire, and maybe that you have a competing desire, things we'll talk about in the future.

So let's say in order to create that plan, stick to that plan, go shopping, you need to be committed. Maybe some days you'll just need to feel willing. Some days you might want to feel confident. Maybe curious if you're trying to figure out something, figure out your emotions. Maybe curiosity is the emotion you want. Maybe you just want to feel focused. So you go shopping, you know exactly what you're going to get. So whatever it is that you choose as a goal, you want to figure out what emotions do you personally need to feel in order to stick to the actions that will get you to achieve that goal.

In step three, we're going to talk about how does that feeling manifest in your body, and again, I've given you a list of sensations, and I've given you pictures of body parts so that you can see where in your body you might feel these sensations. So maybe if it's a positive feeling of committed you want to feel light, or electric, maybe expansive. Maybe to feel confident you want to feel strong or curious. You want to look at where in your body do you feel that electricity, right? Maybe it's in your sternum, maybe it's in your throat. Maybe your solar plexus or your palms, maybe your feet.

But I want you to remember our friendly Vulcan, Mr. Spock. He doesn't really know what an emotion is, and he really is relying on you to help him. So in step four you're going to write what was that like. What does it feel like in your body, what is the sensation, what is the vibration, and where is it? And describe it in detail so that Mr. Spock knows exactly what it is that you're feeling.

Now, step five is going to be to create several thoughts that are going to give you that feeling. So maybe some thoughts are, "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to reach my goal." Does that thought give you a sense of commitment? Or maybe, "I'm choosing to give my body nutrients now." Does that give you confidence? Maybe, "I can do hard things" or, "I can learn new things" or, "I'm learning to love my body." You come up with the thoughts that are going to generate that feeling for you, because remember, everybody's different and only you know what thought is and what it feels like in your body.

Step six, come up with a list of evidence for each thought. So let's take the thought, "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to reach my goal weight." Now we want to look for evidence about actions you have taken. So let's say you have already created a food plan. So your evidence would be, "I have a food plan to follow. I chose to eat breakfast on plan." Many of my clients can easily make it from breakfast to lunch but sometimes have a difficult time at dinner. But if you can find the evidence, which is, "I chose to eat breakfast on plan", that is going to give your brain that evidence.

"I went to the gym this week", "I have a plan for tomorrow." So as you think that thought, "I am willing to do whatever it takes to reach my goal weight", and that will inspire your confidence if that's what you're going for. And so then you want to look at what does that feel like in your body. What about the thought, "I can do hard things"? Let's look for evidence of that. Maybe you raise children. That is certainly a hard thing. Maybe you bought a house, maybe you've had a career. Maybe you just survived your own childhood.

I want you to be sure that you're not pretending to believe these thoughts but that you are genuinely being with these thoughts, and you do that by holding the thought in your brain and then going to your body. "I can do hard things", and if you feel proud, where do you feel that in your body? Do you feel it in your chest? Do you feel it in your shoulders? Because once you start feeling the positive emotions, you're going to be providing your brain with serotonin, which is that feel good neurotransmitter. And feeling the warmth means identifying those vibrations in your body.

Again, maybe it's a lightness in your shoulder, maybe it's solid in your solar plexus. So doing all the steps, thinking the thought, noticing the vibrations in your body, taking a moment to let it seep in, allow it in. Remember people, this feels good. We want to install it. Let's take the thought, "I'm learning to love my body." And maybe right now you don't love your body yet, right? So you want to find evidence where you are learning to love your body. And maybe even the thought, "I'm aware that criticizing my body makes me feel bad", "I appreciate my hair", "I make a small effort each day to speak kindly about my body", "I'm eating more nutritious foods". All of these other things that are really true in your life are providing your brain with evidence that you are in fact learning to love your body.

Then step seven, we're going to make a plan to practice your new thoughts and put when you're going to practice this actually on your calendar. So maybe you want to practice them before each meal or maybe in the morning, or at the end of the day. So now that you're no longer an emotional eater, because you are a student of the mind, body, emotion connection, each time you practice feeling your negative emotion, or generating a positive emotion, it's kind of like putting credits into your emotional life bank account.

So when you go into your bank account and you pull out what you need, and then you install new thoughts and feelings, or if you're using the other metaphor, you're building the fire, you're feeling the warmth. What you put in with practice you will receive and you will get out with results. So get to your goal weight, and then you know what? You're going to find a new problem to solve. So although your brain has a negative bias, you can retrain it to install the positive and receive the benefits of the serotonin and dopamine as you learn to generate positive emotions.

So in summary, first, ask yourself, what do you want to achieve? Second, what do you need to feel? Positive feelings lead to inspired action. Third, feel what's happening in your body and where in your body and describe what's happening in your body. Fourth, remind yourself of the evidence that you have created for the thoughts you want to think. Then fifth, take the time to practice, to feel the warmth, or let the program install. And the more you do this, you will be creating competence and we know what happens, with competence comes confidence. And then you will value all of your feelings, so when that 50-50 happens and a negative feeling comes, you're like, "No problem, this is the time I'm going to feel my negative emotion." And when that positive feeling comes, you're like, "Yes, this is the time I'm going to get to feel that positive, positive feeling."

So remember when your brain goes into negative bias, you can thank it and take a different action because you know that all is well. You're not going to starve to death, and you're not going to be left on the side of the road to die. Install the program, feel the warmth.

Now my favorite things. Today's favorite thing is just a simple little thing. It's for writing. It's a journal. Now, you can find yourself a beautiful journal online or go to a shop and find yourself a gorgeous journal. There's also something called the Five-Minute Journal, which is just a book that is broken down into morning rituals and evening rituals, really to ensure even if you only have five minutes you can put it down on paper.

Now, writing is essential to learning and we're doing so much learning and exploring about ourselves that it's important for us to write about it. I mean, you would never think of sending your kids to the first day of school without books and paper, right? So we know that writing helps you to learn and so I want you to get yourself a journal and use it at least five to ten minutes every day.

So that's it for this episode, so excited that you stuck around, and next week we're going to be talking about creating a comprehensive weight loss plan. Yes, my friends, we're going to talk about a weight loss plan. I'll see you then. Bye-bye.

Thanks for listening to this episode of It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight. If you liked what you heard and want more, head over to never2late.info/guide, to download your quick start guide to jump start your weight loss plan and begin creating an amazing life you love.

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