You cannot learn to juggle in one hour. You cannot learn to play guitar in one day. And you cannot learn to ride a bicycle in one week.
Ok maybe you can. Maybe it’s just me who suck. Or maybe you’re a genius.
But the truth is, for normal people—and by normal people I mean people who don’t lie—all of these things take time.
And there’s a reason for it. (But I can’t tell you now else it’s going to ruin the structure of my article.)
What I want to tell you now though is that learning to deal with one’s own emotions, handling life better and reaching your full potential is also a skill, and does also take time.
All learnings work on the same principle.
And it goes through 2 phases.
To be able to get better—not just emotionally but at anything actually—you first need to be aware.
Being aware means consciously observing what you might be doing wrong or inefficiently, without any judgement.
Only then you can find new ways to improve your current situation.
Awareness is always the first step to change.
That is why it’s so important to explore the world and expand your knowledge.
Only new ideas, and personal reflection, allow people to grow and to have more possibilities and opportunities in one’s own life.
This phase is the conscious understanding. You deliberately stick your neck out and see what’s going on in the world.
You grab new data that make sense to you.
It’s fast and easy.
Now let’s say you’ve read my awesome article about focusing only on what you can control, and you actually never thought about that idea before.
You’ve now acquired a new mindset to work on. You intellectually understand it.
Still though, when something happens that is out of your control, you feel frustrated, angry, or maybe even so much rage that you want to punch someone in the nostrils.
The reason is that you haven’t understood the mindset emotionally yet.
Or in science-backed no BS terms (kinda), it’s because your brain didn’t have the time yet to rewire itself to match your new intellectual understanding.
But it will. I promise. I mean science promises.
You see, your brain is malleable. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity. And this is one of the biggest discovery made about the human brain in these last decades.
We are a product of Evolution, and our body and mind continue to evolve on an individual basis. When you stress your body and your mind, they adapt to respond to the pressure. So when you keep stressing your brain with new beliefs, it is going to respond and create new connections in order to not only make you intellectually understand these new beliefs, but also to learn how to emotionally respond in accordance with them.
It’s like magic. (Except it’s not.)
This phase is the unconscious understanding. (Yes, emotions come from the unconscious part of our brain, and we cannot control them, or at least not directly. But this is for another article.)
It is slow, but still easy.
A LITTLE EXAMPLE
You are my wife.
You believe that dogs are dangerous. You’re walking down the street and there’s this stray dog staring at you, drooling like a pervert. Fear shows up. You freeze. Your heart beats faster, you’re sweating. You’re not sure what you’re doing, you mind races, you keep going but walks as far away as possible from the dog. You make the sign of the cross with your hands but not in the correct order.
Now you are me. You believe that most dogs are actually OK, and you find it amazing how they can suck their own assholes for hours so passionately. You’re walking down the street and there’s this stray dog staring at you, drooling like a pervert. You don’t give a shit, you just pass by without a sweat. You might even nod and ask the dog how its day is going.
I’m not saying that to brag. Replace dogs with humans and you’ve got the opposite story.
What I’m coming at is that in both cases, the circumstances are exactly the same. The only difference is how our own mind is interpreting the circumstances, and how our unconscious beliefs are affecting the quality of our life.
Now let’s say you want to become more proficient at handling animals teeth because your city is infested with stray dogs. Maybe you live in Bangkok.
The first step would be to change your belief that dogs are dangerous to the one that most dogs are actually OK. This change is intellectual and can be understood in a day.
But the next time you’ll see a dog, guess what? The same emotions will show up. You’ll be scared, you’ll sweat, and you’ll start doing nonsense stuff like praying.
The change in emotional response can happen, but it takes time. Because it actually physically takes time for your brain to generate the new connections needed.
Sure, the dog issue is insignificant. But replace it with crippling states of mind like depression, anxiety, or uncontrollable rage and you can see how it’s important to understand that emotional change is possible, but it takes time, and that this latency is inevitable.
THE QUICK GUIDE TO CHANGE YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSES
3 simple and easy steps:
Discover. New ideas, new mindsets, new beliefs, new cultures. For things that matter, like experience and knowledge, more is better. So be curious.
Keep reminding yourself of the ideas (3 max at the same time, would highly recommend only 1) you find appealing and that you want to incorporate into your life. You can for example setup an alert in your phone to remind you 3 times a day.
Have faith, and wait. Your brain is going to take care of the rest and rewire itself. I call it faith but it’s science, not blind faith. This stuff works. (If you’re human.)
One day you’ll wake up, something you have no control over will happen, and you’ll not give a little fuck about it.
Studies showed that to create new lasting connections it takes a minimum of 3 weeks of conscious thinking/reminding. According to the complexity of the learning, it might take up to months.
But even if it takes longer than a few weeks, you will enjoy the benefits very early on. The change is not a clear cut that happens overnight. Instead, little by little, your new mindset will emotionally take place in your brain and you’ll start realizing soon enough that you actually do see and feel differently about life.
Then the more you keep “training” your brain, the more sealed the mindset becomes. Until it is second nature to you and you don’t even have to consciously think about it anymore.
You’ll now have fully integrated your new mindset, and you’ll be naturally enjoying the corresponding emotional responses it provides. Without any more effort.
This is super awesome.
HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER
So time is necessary, but you can speed up the process somehow.
Do you know how to build muscles? You stress them out like crazy, and then you rest them out like crazy. If you keep on stressing them, they don’t grow. They atrophy.
Rest is when the growth happens.
Life itself is a series of alternation between stress periods and rest periods. That’s how anything grows on this planet.
Can’t grow with 100% rest. Can’t grow with 100% stress.
For the romantics out there, even a heartbeat is a process of an electrical impulse moment, followed by a rest moment.
So the way to speed up the process is simple: sleep more.
Too little sleep and your brain cannot regenerate efficiently, which means slow and forgetful learning. So listen to Arnold and make sure you get around 7 hours a night.
And just remember. Whatever it is that you want to improve: change is possible, it takes time, and this is normal and uncompromisable.
Now you know. No need to hurry. Push hard, sleep hard, and you can just let go and relax.
As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
But it was built anyway.