I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately for a new TV show and my first book. Being on the road, I’ve noticed something very interesting about myself: My energy is easily hijacked by my own emotions.
Take last night for example. I arrived at the airport an hour before my flight and walked up to the counter to check in. A woman with a scowl on her face and an even nastier tone of voice asked me what flight I was on. As soon as I told her, she sighed deeply and said, “Oh, that’s delayed three hours. Weather in Newark.” Then she walked away.
For a second, I could feel my own energy level sink, thanks to hers. I could feel my heart start to speed as I realized I could have stayed home longer and that I’d be arriving after midnight and would still have to drive an hour in pouring rain to the hotel. What happened in that millisecond happens to all of us. My emotions took over my head.
When you allow your emotions to run you, it’s like looking through a pinhole at pain. It’s all you can focus on. You can’t think emotionally and be powerful. So standing there at the airport, with my heart racing and energy sinking, I did something that I want you to start doing: I managed my mind.
I played a little game called yellow light training (YLT). Think about a stop light; whenever I feel my heart speed up or my energy level start to sink, it’s a yellow light. I pause and slow down the emotions so they don’t take hold.
You can train yourself to get out of the pattern of emotional thinking. As soon as you feel your heart speed up or your energy dip, zoom out from the emotion and look at the biggest possible picture. Choose something else to think about. Do not waste one second thinking about things beyond your control.
The fact is, a three hour delay is not a big deal, and once I wasn’t emotional, I thought about the amount of uninterrupted work I could get done.
If you really use YLT in your life, you’ll start to notice emotional thinking all day long. Waiting for the subway, sitting in a traffic jam, standing in line. You can’t control the line, so why are you so anxious and agitated? When something is outside of your control, recognize that emotions are flooding your mind. Pause. Worry and emotional energy are unnecessary.
After three productive hours in the airport, we finally did board the plane. And I used YLT for the rest of the evening— when the captain informed us that we were going to sit for a while on the runway before takeoff, when we circled Newark for 45 minutes, when we were told to hold on tight because of major turbulence. With each announcement, my emotions flooded my mind, then I paused and let go of what I could not control.
We pulled up to the gate, and everyone unbuckled and popped up from their seats. The level of agitation rose as the ground crew couldn’t get the ramp to the plane. Again, the captain came on explaining the reason for the delay. A woman turned to me and said “This is the worst flight I’ve ever been on.” And I simply smiled and said, “It didn’t have to be."