Emotions Affect Outcomes Part 2: How We Create What We Fear

When you are fearful about something, there is a great tendency to create that very thing.  But why is that? Athletes have always known this reality.  Picture this:  You are playing golf and about to hit a shot over water.  In your mind, you are thinking, “DON’T hit the shot in the water.  DON’T hit the shot in the water.  DON’T hit the shot in the water.”  That is your biggest fear.  And what happens?  You hit the shot in the water.  Why does that happen?  Because your brain doesn’t hear the word “don’t”.  It only hears the action.  It hears, “HIT THE SHOT IN THE WATER!”

Another example is from the workplace.  An employee is so afraid they will lose their job, they shut themselves down.  They don’t offer any innovative ideas, they don’t take any risks, they don’t rock the boat at all.  And what happens?  Because they are not contributing, they are fired.

Negative emotional states create negative energy that affect others and affect outcomes.  This is based in neuroscience.  Emotions are contagious from a physiological point of view.  So what are you creating with your emotional states?  Are you more positive than negative?

Try this for a week.  Keep a log of your emotional states.  You can just put a plus or a minus.  If you are positive, optimistic, happy, put down a plus.  If you are negative, pessimistic, seeing the downside, put a minus.  What is your dominant style?

We are raised in a negative environment.  In a recent UCLA study, it was found that a one year old hears the word “NO” as many as 400 times per day.

As engineers, contractors, and other technical folks, we are taught to find the problems.  We are taught to find all of the ways something will not work so we can anticipate fixes.  That is what we are taught to do, to see the negative side.  That is how our brains work.  But are we inadvertently creating what we don’t want?  It’s worth thinking about.



2 Responses to Emotions Affect Outcomes Part 2: How We Create What We Fear

  1. fitz1 says:

    Hi Brent,

    Often I think we believe we are being helpful when we point out to others how their ideas won’t work. By turning this around and asking ourselves how we would feel if someone consistently pointed out the flaws in our own thinking, we get a feel for how our comments come across to others.



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