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Developing Emotional Muscle

By Mary Allen

EMOTIONS are a huge element in our lives. They affect how we experience the world.....and, each emotion serves as a unique filter for our life's experiences. Sometimes it feels that we're at the mercy of our emotions. I'd like to suggest how we can take greater control of our lives by more consciously choosing some of our emotions.

I believe emotions play a powerful role in helping us achieve our goals, dreams, and in creating fulfilling lives. The more we "feel" an emotion.....the more we attract that into our lives. Simply breeds joy. Stress breeds stress. Peace breeds peace. Essentially, it's Law of Attraction.

As we move throughout life we have opportunities to experience and "work-out" various "emotional muscles". Happiness, sadness, anger, joy, peace, discipline, fear, and love are amongst the core list. Some emotions are easier to master than others. Yet all emotions, like anything else, need to be fully developed. Just like our physical muscles need to be exercised, stretched and pushed to achieve maximum strength, maximum use and maximum pleasure (having well formed muscles is a nice feature, yes?). Emotions too, need to be exercised, stretched and pushed to achieve maximum strength, use and pleasure (fulfillment).

I've also noticed that, like muscles, there are typically "pairs" of muscles that work together. Each body part has a set of muscles that allow the limb to extend or contract. For example, the arm has biceps and triceps. Biceps pull the arm in, and triceps help to extend the arm out. I believe that "emotional muscles" also can be found in pairs or groups.

Obviously the "emotional muscles" that are "worked out" the most, shape an individual, whether positively or negatively. If someone frequently feels depressed, sad, lonely, their muscles of happiness, joy and connection may become weak or atrophied. These "emotional muscles" that go unexercised will eventually become harder to access. People who are frequently depressed and sad find it harder to readily be HAPPY, than someone who is happy all the time. Makes sense.

So, how does this relate to achieving ones goals???

Many books talk about visualization as one way to create what you want in life. One of the key elements to visualization is to "get into the feelings and emotions" of having already achieved your desired outcome. In essence, you are "exercising your emotional muscles" in advance, so that when your "visualization" actually becomes reality you have the "emotional muscle infrastructure" to sustain it.

If these emotional muscles aren't "strong" enough, the antagonistic muscles may overpower the experience and actually dissolve what you just created.

Here's an example, someone is seeking abundance. They work hard and create abundance into their life, and yet their feeling of "unworthiness" is a much stronger emotional muscle for them. Over time, they must either strengthen their "worthiness/abundance" muscle to sustain their abundance or they may likely find their new-found abundance disappearing before their eyes.

Another example, someone is seeking LOVE (isn't this a popular one). Intellectually, they know what they want in a partner - the looks, the personality, the whole image - they even have an "intellectual idea" of the love they'll feel. But, let's delve into the "feelings" or emotional muscles involved in attracting your ideal mate.

How do you want to FEEL in your ideal relationship?

Well, most women I know want to feel loved, adored and cherished. Many, many people tell me they long for their "ideal relationship", yet years and years go by without a trace of their ideal mate. So, I've asked my clients to visualize the person of their dreams right in front of them - their mate has arrived and is HERE!!! Then I ask them how it "feels" to feel totally loved, adored and cherished by their ideal mate, knowing that their mate IS here. They must truly step into the experience emotionally.

As my clients sit with their experience, seemingly willing to embrace this visualization, many clients became either "sad", "went blank" or were frustrated. One woman became sad because she realized that the only person she had ever allowed to let her feel "loved and adored" was her mother ("love" was a weak emotional muscle for her). Another client struggled to "feel" the sensation of being adored and cherished. Since most relationships end in disappointment and hurt, the conditioned response is often Love = Hurt/Disappointment = Sad = MUST PROTECT. The emotional muscle that became developed was one of "emotional distance"...or "numbness" (Numb is an emotional state). The "love" muscle had atrophied... and the "open and vulnerable" muscles had stiffened.

Even if the feelings of "adored and loved" are initially hard to access, ANY emotional muscle can be developed. I challenge my clients (who desire these feelings) to "practice" feeling ADORED, CHERISHED and LOVED daily, as though they are receiving it from their lover. Over time, people are able to fully associate with these feelings. And, as they do, amazing relationships show up in their lives. Or, their existing relationships begin to shift.

I've seen the results of "cultivating emotional muscles" with my clients....and, I've experienced it personally in my own life. Years ago, I desired to attract the "man of my dreams" into my life. So, I spent time each day "visualizing" and getting fully associated with the feelings I wanted to experience with my future beloved. At first this was hard...and, I felt completely inept at this. Yet, over time I was able to really feel being "totally adored, cherished and loved". I felt what it would be like to sit across the table at restaurants, have great conversation, to travel, etc. All the time focusing on the feelings. Six months later, "exactly" what I had fully associated to is "exactly" what showed up in my relationship - feeling totally loved, cherished and adored beyond anything I'd ever personally experienced. And, this relationship continued for nearly 3 years.

I since chose to end this relationship, even though I felt "so love, cherished and adored". (And, let me say, it's tough to let go of being "so love, cherished and adored"). However, I realized other elements that were equally important to me, that couldn't be fulfilled within that relationship. I'm now strengthening the "emotional" muscles that align with the vision I hold in my ideal relationship now. Stay tuned.

SOULFUL CHALLENGE: Identify those feelings you want to experience in your ideal relationship - or in another area of your life... and start "stretching those emotional muscles" by cultivating those "feelings" each day. Then, see what shows up in your life.

Mary Allen has been a respected Professional Life Coach for over five years, and has authored the engaging online newsletter Soulfully Living since 2002. She enjoys a full coaching practice working with individuals who share a commitment to success and inner fulfillment. Mary is also the author of the acclaimed eCourse program Living in Choice. For more information about Mary Allen, visit
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