Archive - 2015

What’s Your “Emotional ID?”
How “Normal” Are Your Ups & Downs?
Does Positive Emotion Change The Structure Of The Brain?
Does Being “Understood” Move Us Forward?
Making Meaning, Moving Through Transition
Where Do You Want Your Life To Go?

What’s Your “Emotional ID?”

Dr. William K. Larkin

Emotions UtaUta Hagen wrote a wonderful book about her acting theory called A Challenge For The Actor, and in this book, she says that what great actors are really doing in learning to assume the “emotional identity” of a role is learning to connect with the emotions that are already inside of them. Uta Hagen’s method for dealing with emotions, for getting to emotion is: she tells her actors that every single emotion that you have to experience exists within yourself.

Go inside of yourself until you find a place in your life when you felt that emotion, feel that emotion, and act from that emotion.

That’s exactly what we’re doing in growing a more NeuroPositive mind. Pretend or “fake it till you make it” is just another way of getting to what already exists within you.

Let me say it again. The access to any emotional state is already within you.  Brain Fire Water

With the array of emotional states and States Of Mind that you learned to create over your lifetime, you’ve already forged your “Emotional ID.”

Hagen also says that we are many different selves. We have our “introductory self,” the self we use when you meet people. We have our “camera self,” the one we use when snapping another selfie. We have our “up at 3am self,” that’s a peculiarly interesting self, when we wake up in the middle of the night. We have our “accept an award self.” when we’re not trying to act too proud, and to be humble when we’re accepting an award. And we have our “forget yourself self,” how we are when we forget that we are this self and we just sort of are where we are.

Not Another One!In and through our lives, we act a hundred different roles, wear a hundred different hats, and in acting, create a hundred different poignant, real feelings and moods.

The Emotional Gym is the starting point to get you to do that.

And that’s what we want to do with the clients that we’re working with: to get them to reach inside and to touch the elements of these feelings, to connect with these uniquely personal “roles.”

We are capable, if we get out of our boxes of sadness, negativity and the DownSpiral, if we get ourselves out of our boxes of pessimism, we are very, very capable of living many different selves that are really just as real and just as true as anything could be, and we can learn to access them.

To use the great creativity that we have of being these many different selves and allowing them to be without feeling like we’re being inauthentic is the key.

Different selves, different states of feeling, and different states of being, fit in different places. And we know how to use them. We just need to learn how to build more upon the more positive ones. So learn to act. Learn to reach inside of yourself, to touch the feelings that you want to bring forth, and to act from them.Change Plutarch

Learning to connect with your inner states of emotion, especially positive emotion, constitutes the framework for the very basic way your perception sees the world.

It’s measuring a very elemental reality that started with you genetically, and continued with you in your nurturance, and it’s a very basic way about the way you see and judge the most elemental events in your world.

Consciousness starts with what we do with the most elemental events in our world.Feel What

That’s where we’re going to find out how hopeful we are.

It’s where we discover how well we can live out the positive emotional identities which we’ve finally discovered already live within us.

How good are you at identifying and growing your NeuroPositive “Emotional ID?”

How “Normal” Are Your Ups & Downs?

Dr. William K. Larkin

Pain GainSince we were children, we have been taught not to live in flow.

We have been taught the philosophy of “no pain, no gain, the harder you work, the more likely you are to succeed.”

We have been taught that struggle is necessary, that it is a requirement to succeed at anything. It is a necessity in justifying your success.

We have not been taught that “flow” is the way to success.

Esther Hicks used the wonderful metaphor of being taught all of your life to swim upstream against the current.

Believing that where it’s at is struggle, where it’s at is overcoming difficulties, it’s getting strong by overcoming hardships, and the more you swim upstream and the harder you swim upstream and the longer Struggle Handyou swim upstream, the stronger you become, and the more you struggle, the better the person you will be.

We have sanctified suffering partly because, if we did not, we would look foolish having done so much of it for so little.

If the world has not learned everything it has to learn from suffering by now, it will not learn more from creating, living, or researching any more than we have already exhausted it.

Suffering is not a requirement for a life of flow, success, happiness, or joy.

Had we been taught differently, by people who believed differently, we would have chosen far less suffering in our lives as the way we would learn many of our lessons.

Brain FLowDr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the great researcher on flow, says that the experience of flow produces something that he believes is “psychological capital.”

Psychological capital means that your neurons are beginning to communicate and network more efficiently with each other. There begins to be more inter-neuronal association in the brain. That simply means that various parts of the brain begin to talk to each other and began to cooperate in creating and unleashing the real untapped potential of the brain.

The more you are building these associations in the brain, the less prone to dementia and Alzheimer’s you will be. We already know from the research of Barbara Fredrickson and positive affect that one of the outcomes of psychological capital is this buffer zone that we build against the negative.

This “buffer zone” has great significance. It engages when you experience threat and negativity; these mind states simply don’t impact you so quickly and for so long. It’s a buffer zone between Immunitynot only you and negativity, but also a buffer for the immune system as well.

That buffer system is a kind of immunology that is protecting you against disease.

This buffer of psychological capital is being built up because you’re “drumming” the positive and staying in an UpSpiral.

You’ve built a buffer that makes you much more resistant to disease and much more resistant to the things that make you sick.

I can remember years and years ago, when I would get in a negative state, when things would start to bother me, and I would start to be afraid, and I would start to worry and be anxious – usually about things in the future that might happen, that rarely, if ever, did happen.

It was nothing to have a negative mood last for perhaps five or six days, to be in a negative state, and then maybe for it to start breaking. It really was something of a learned cycle.

Ole MeThere was little or no psychological capital built up in me to deal with worry and stress.

There was certainly no intention to be and remain in a positive state as a normal, everyday way to live my life.

I never go there anymore, and if I do go there in some rare circumstance, it is very short-lived.


Does Positive Emotion Change The Structure Of The Brain?

Dr. William K. Larkin

Brain ZenThe Dali Lama asked neuroscientists a similar question: “Is it possible that compassionate meditation can change the nature of the brain as well as the way we think and reason?”

The answer turned out to be a resounding “yes.”

It is the same when we ask the question of positive emotion.

The resounding answer is “yes”– increased positivity changes the nature of the brain, expressed in your reasoning and thinking.

Building NeuroPositivity changes the nature of the brain, the fundamental way in which you reason and think.

Does giving people the “benefit of the doubt” also change the structure of the brain?Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

One of the most important things that we can teach our clients is to move back and step back and step away from oppression. The most dangerous condition that we’ll work with as life coaches is that clients get oppressed; it’s like life gets “on top of them.”

In learning to “weight” the positive, grow your UpSpiral and a more NeuroPositive brain, we’re talking here about a technique called giving others “the benefit of the doubt.”

Now I know that’s been around for a long time, and it sounds like a lot of rationalization, sort of just withdrawing and not getting engaged.

Two SidesWhat I want to introduce to you is this question: does giving people the benefit of the doubt change the structure of the brain? If you gave people the benefit of the doubt, what would happen to your brain?   If you gave people who bother you or judge, or who are critical, who oppress you, who tend to get on top of you and to bug you, if you gave them the benefit of the doubt, what would it mean for your brain and your State Of Mind?

What if somebody cuts you off on the highway, and as a strategy, even though they are wrong, even though they are dead wrong, you’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt? We have this idea that we can get negative and judgmental when it is justified because the other person was really wrong. Finally, finally in my life there’s somebody who’s really wrong, and it isn’t me, and I can really go after them. I am justified in my negative reaction toward them.

How does that rationale increase the ratio of positive to negative in your thinking and feeling? How much in a day, how much over time?Pos Greater Neg

By giving somebody the benefit of the doubt in this traffic situation, you might say: well, he/she probably had an argument before leaving home this morning, how many times have I cut somebody off in traffic because I wasn’t watching closely enough, I didn’t really realize they were there.

Instead of making an emotional, over-reacting response to being cut off, what I do is to start backing off from that reaction. Am I making excuses for the other person? You could say well, that’s very dangerous. I’ve made some excuses for so long for so many people that making excuses for them caused me not to be me.

DoormatWrong, that is not what caused you not to be you. You made excuses for other people because you didn’t define what you wanted, you weren’t clear with yourself about what you wanted, you didn’t stand on what you wanted, and you weren’t engaging your strengths.

It was a deficit in the clarity of your wanting and the absent use of your strengths, and your deficit got compensated for by this sort of repeatedly excusing others, until you may have ended up feeling like a doormat.

And so what I’m suggesting here is a whole new way of giving others the benefit of the doubt, based on being clear about what you want and using your strengths. You aren’t going to be one of those people who are excusing other people simply because you don’t want to get negative, or you want the easy way out without any confrontation. You’re going to be doing it from a whole different motivational state.

We’re talking about giving people the benefit of the doubt so it doesn’t engage you, and so it doesn’t waste your psychic energy.Up Down New

Rather, it will tip your ratio of positive to negative thinking and feeling in the direction of your UpSpiral, all by giving others the benefit of the doubt, a very simple piece of everyday behavior that we need to clean up.

Does Being “Understood” Move Us Forward?

Dr. William K. Larkin

Loud & ClearDo we get resolution in our lives simply by being “heard?”

There is this idea that if you understand your conflicts, that if you dig in and you ask why and you get at what’s wrong, the more that is going to resolve whatever these conflicts are.

And once you understand those conflicts, once you have insight into those conflicts, that those conflicts get resolved- the energy they are blocking is released and you are freer.

You say aha ! Now I understand.

And my question is: do we really understand, and does understanding, whatever that is, really change anything? Does insight in and of itself really change a process?

And the answer to that question is no.Insight Eye

Insight alone into a process doesn’t mean you understand the process, much less change it. The old adage in psychoanalysis is that “understanding the process, changes the process,” is just not true. But we want to understand, we want to ask questions like, “why?”

We are brainwashed to believe that if we understand the “why” we will solve the problem or that it will show us the way to the solution. The fact is that as coaches, “why” is not your question. You don’t care about the “why.” It’s not within the scope of your practice. The stories they tell of who they think they are and their histories, which are precious to them, is not your territory.

Story NoYour question is, “Can you tell me who you are without telling me your story? Can any of you do that yet?”

We think that we have to listen to people’s stories because they will feel connected to us. I don’t need to hear your story.

I don’t need to know where you came from or why you came from there.

We’re going to leave all of that behind and we’re going to start right at ground zero and we’re going to talk solely about living “the fully lived life.”

I think that what is important about having a story told is the decision not to want to repeat the story. What’s important is what are you learning, what are the lessons of this story that you are learning? And maybe in the process of therapy that learning happens, but in many cases it does not because the focus has only remained on what is wrong and what is not working.

What you focus on is what you get.

This need for understanding or for “being heard” is an illusion.Strengths Uncovered

It is a cry to find one’s strengths, not to be a victim, and to find goals that are satisfying that move life forward.

The thing that we’re most upset with most of the time is directly related to the strength we are least using.

I’m going to say that again.

The thing that we are most upset about is tied to, linked to, indelibly connected with the strength or strengths we are using the least.



Making Meaning, Moving Through Transition

Dr. William K. Larkin

PlanYou don’t shower because it’s unplanned. You don’t brush your teeth because it’s unplanned. You don’t take care of yourself because it’s unplanned.

These are all plans we make. And well-being and life satisfaction, ultimate living in life, does not happen unless it is planned or intentioned.

When I look at mentally ill people, when I look at people who are in neurosis and especially people who are in psychosis, when I look at people who are addicted to negativity and negative emotion, which is our most basic addiction, what you’re looking at very often times are people without a plan. You’re looking at people who have no plan, no sense of destiny, who are expressing “lostness,” lack of a sense of personal significance and no meaning-making plan in their lives.

That in itself should tell us something.

Things unfold, this unfolding that we love so much, those things unfold because there is always a plan. Now that plan may not be experienced or known just as consciously as it could be, but there’s Unfoldingalways a plan, and those things that unfold, unfold because there is a meaning making system in place.

When your meaning making scheme isn’t there, that unfolding doesn’t happen in a positive, coherent way.

That unfolding is experienced, even if it is healthy novelty, as chaos.

It’s experienced as everything that’s going wrong, it’s experienced as one more day of everything coming at me that I can’t control and I can’t put into any meaning-making or sense of my personal significance.

Goal Vision BlueThere’s always a unique and very personal way that we make meaning, except that in the DownSpiral, the characteristic, typical experience with meaning-making is that it doesn’t work, that it doesn’t fit.

You may not even be in touch with all of the ways in which you make meaning in your life, unless you have done some serious work on knowing what you want, what your goals are, and given some consideration to what the vision is that drives your life.

That’s why we attract into our lives what we attract into our lives.

Our goals and vision can either be at the whim of the unconscious or under the direction of the conscious mind/brain intentionality to evolve towards greater well-being and unique self-expression.

It is altogether possible that people’s meaning-making system is changing, that your meaning-making is in a transition. There are stages of making meaning in life, stages of the way we think and reason, and there are transitions between these stages.Shake 3

It is these transitions that usually get the most of our attention because they can shake up our world, if we are holding on too tightly to where we have been, rather than where we need to be developing.

We like to talk about holding on and letting go. Letting go and “going with the flow” can be an excuse for not really defining what we want.

It is easy to put our power outside ourselves so we don’t have to come to grips with ourselves. Most people in transition fight to “hold on” to what “is” in the face of uncertainty. Going through a transition is one way of making meaning out of life, and moving into another stage of making meaning can seem very bleak, frightening, and dark.

Hold OnMost people try to make sense out of life by holding on for dear life to what they know.

Others choose to just “let go” and see how things unfold.

Superficial ideas of “letting go” have led us to believe that we are passive receivers of a “plan for our lives,” rather than the active determiners of the life we want to lead.

More than any other time in life, transitions are the times to ask the deeper questions about what we are wanting.


Where Do You Want Your Life To Go?

Dr. William K. Larkin

Up To MeIt’s our decision to decide where we want our lives to go.

When we’re setting goals, we’re mind mapping, we’re brain mapping, and the mind is mapping the brain.

When we’re setting goals, the mind is telling the brain where to go. The mind is telling the brain where to put enormous potential and enormous energy in the creative process.Co-Creation

If you are a spiritual or religious person, you’re putting great direction in the direction of being a co-creator, in the direction of creation not being done, of creation not being complete. You are putting enormous energy into this kind of evolution of where creation is going, particularly through you.

The resistance to being very clear about what you want and setting goals in that direction is that one is being too controlling and now allowing things to just “unfold.”

Some say, “I don’t want to be such a controlling person that I give my life so much direction, I want some serendipity in my life.” No, you don’t want serendipity in your life. You want messy in your life.

MessyThat’s what you’re asking for: messy.

And you spend time, if you do messy a great deal of your time, cleaning up “messy” and wondering where your life is going.

The greater the detail, the greater the direction, the greater will be the serendipitous surprises of how you are getting there. This is an enormous universe. What you don’t want is all kind of random diversifying and random unfolding, but you do want enough novelty to allow you to form and change malleable goals that give you a sense of direction.

What you want is a “personal unfolding” that will take you significantly in the direction that allows your potential to emerge over time. The greater the direction and its detail, the greater the desire – and Change Everythinggreat desire will change everything.

Desire will create change on many levels. Desire will change negative core beliefs of the past. It will change beliefs, period.

Beliefs are sometimes difficult over and against desire, but in the long run, beliefs are no match for desire when desire is strong.

Desire will change beliefs.

ImagineerYou do not have a shadow side or an unconscious mind that is more powerful than your conscious mind. Your conscious mind, used well and with direction, tells the creative unconscious and the collective unconscious what to do.

Negative core beliefs do not stand a chance is the face of a determined, clear will that both knows what it wants but is also willing to alter those goals through viable feedback.

You don’t have to go back over negative beliefs, your negative belief system, and your “dark side.” Desire will take all of that along.

When you’re lost in a DownSpiral, unfolding with all kinds of serendipity, not knowing where you want to go and having wasted your psychic energy for years, it is easy to conclude that the problem is your Goal Visionnegative core beliefs.

Not so. The problem is that you don’t have any positive core beliefs expressing themselves in goals and a vision.



Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute