What if I told you that, even if we do not have the knowledge of professional psychologists, we can learn some techniques to become practical psychologists?
I had the fortune of studying with Tony Robbins over the course of the past years and I learned techniques to decipher what’s really going on in a situation – both with ourselves and with those we care about.
The 3 elements of Practical Psychology represent a series of refinements that will help you understand the nature of human beings and in turn be able to predict how and why we do what we do.
Why is this relevant? The more you can understand about what is naturally going on with people, the more compassion, connection, and positive influence you can have as a parent, a leader, a professional, a loving partner, or a friend.
In order to become effective practical psychologists, there are three questions we must answer and this is what we will do in this podcast episode.
Question #1: What stops us from moving forward?
If you have listened to the previous podcast episodes, you know the answer to this question: FEAR.
Fear can destroy our psychology and immobilize us from taking action. All of us experience fear in some context during our lives, no one is exempt from fear: fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success (i.e. how can I handle the pressure and continue to deliver at a high level?), fear of love (or losing love), fear of being alone, fear of the unknown, etc. In fact, most of us feel a combination of these fears over the course of our lives.
Fear is hard-wired into every human being – nothing we do this weekend or in our lifetimes will take fear away. This is a big truth we need to accept, but the secret is learning how to use fear instead of letting fear use you!
And already knowing that fear is inevitable is really a strong place to come from, because it puts you in a state of mind where you know that you will feel fear but you can be courageous and do it anyway.
While we all experience countless variations of fear, there are two primary fears that all human beings share:
Fear of not being enough.
Fear of not being loved.
If you have ever experienced these two fears in your life, you are not alone! Every human being has experienced these two fears at some point in life.
Question #2: What controls and determines the quality of our lives?
Wow, this is a more difficult question, isn’t it? Do you want to know? I bet you want to know! After all, if we understand this, we can enhance the quality of our life! The answer is… EMOTIONS. The most powerful energy source in the entire universe.
Anything in life you think you want, you only want because of the feeling you believe obtaining it will give you. This is an incredible realization; let me give you an example to make it clearer:
You do not really want the new pair of trendy shoes; you want those shoes because of the feeling you will feel once you have those shoes! This is why, after 6 months, you will not like the shoes anymore: they will not give you the feeling you once felt, and you will chase a new pair of shoes.
The truth is, you could have that feeling right now, without getting what you want! Read carefully because, if you do not learn this technique, you will always feel unsatisfied. Imagine starting a new relationship; after the initial thrill and emotions, you might be tempted to chase a new relationship to feel new emotions. Not a very healthy way of looking at life, is it?
Hence the importance to understand how to hack your own emotions. How can we do that?
To understand this, we need to dive into the triad, the 3 patterns that create any emotion:
Your Physiology (what you do with your body)
Emotion is created by motion! Emotion is energy-in-motion. Whatever you are feeling right now is related to how you are using your body. (Hint: this includes your face! Try smiling and see how your emotions change! When you smile, your brain will not recognize the difference between being happy and pretending to be happy).
Your Focus & Beliefs
Whatever you focus on, you are going to believe. Focus/Perception equals reality to the individual, even though it is not reality in actuality. What are you focusing on?
The Language you use & the Meaning you create
What Meaning are you giving to what you are focusing on? Is it an empowering meaning or a disempowering meaning?
Here is an example: if your partner is late for dinner, do you tell yourself they must have an affair and you get angry, or do you think they went to buy you flowers and you smile?
These are two different meanings to the same situation you are focusing on. Understanding meaning is important because the meaning will generate emotions, and as we said before emotions affect the quality of our lives.
Questions: Thinking is nothing more than mentally asking and answering a series of questions. Eliminate any habitual questions that do not serve you.
Words: If you want to change your life, pay attention to the words you repeat to yourself. Certain words can change the way you feel: for example, “I think I am mistaken”, “I think I am wrong”, “I think I am not enough”. All these words in our head sabotage us when we are trying to achieve our goals!
Incantations: When you repeat a phrase with enough emotional intensity, you start to believe it. Utilize the power of incantations by using the sentences that empower you the most.
When you change one, or a combination, of physiology, focus and meaning, your emotions will change! And this will lead to a radically higher quality of life.
Question #3: Why do we do what we do?
This, in my opinion, is the most important question. And it leads the way to exploring a concept which is find incredibly interesting: the 6 Human Needs.
How is it that one person will sacrifice his own life for another, while another person will murder a stranger for sheer pleasure? What creates a Charles Manson, an American criminal, or a Nelson Mandela, first black President of South Africa? What is the difference between a mafia boss or a John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President? What drives someone to hit their partner or to become a Martin Luther King, American Minister well-known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered in 1963.
What causes these huge differences? We need to answer this question! The examples I presented are very extreme, but no matter who you are in the world, or what you do, there is a common force that is driving and shaping all your emotions and actions. This force determines the quality of our lives, and ultimately, our destinies. These primal needs have been encoded into our nervous systems over centuries. Although each of us is a unique and special soul, we are all wired in very much the same way.
Research shows that there are 6 Human Needs – fundamental drives within each one of us – that compel us forward in a quest to experience a life of meaning. There is no conscious effort necessary, our will to satisfy these needs is automatic. This is why it is important to self-assess and realize what needs we are unconsciously trying to satisfy.
The 4 Primal Needs / Needs of Personality
Everybody wants stability about their basic necessities – food, shelter, and other material resources. When people cannot control their physical circumstances, they may seek certainty through a state of mind (such as religious faith or a positive outlook).
What is the drawback of chasing Certainty? --> What we call “Comfort zone” is a made up concept.
The more we seek certainty, the more our comfort zone shrinks! Seeking Certainty on a daily basis will ultimately lead to unhappiness because we are not growing, we are not expanding, we remain stagnant.
Uncertainty / Variety
People have a need to change their state, to exercise their body and emotions. Therefore, they seek variety through a number of means – stimuli, change of scene, physical activity, mood swings, entertainment, food, etc. We want to experience something new.
This is why we must make a proactive effort and seek Uncertainty! --> It allows us to expand our comfort zone.
Everybody needs to feel special and important in some way. The quickest way to start a conversation with a stranger is, for instance, to give them significance. People will seek significance through obtaining recognition from others or from themselves. For instance, a teenager looks for significance when they dress in a certain way. When people feel insignificant, they may make themselves feel significant by getting angry. Others might try to feel significant due to the size or complexity of their problems: “OMG no one has as many problems as I have!”
What is the problem with Significance? --> Firstly, your need for significance will lead to unhappiness, because life is not about you.
But more importantly, an extreme need for Significance is alarming. The people who desperately try to feel significant are the ones who commit unforgivable crimes and bad actions. A man hitting his wife, someone holding a gun or killing another human being; these are desperate attempts of feeling significant, to affirm strength and power over someone.
Connection / Love
Humans need to feel connected with someone or something – a person, an ideal, a value, a habit, or a sense of identity. Connection may take the form of love, or it may be created by a sense of belonging, or a spiritual sense.
Like any of the 6 Human Needs, people can fulfil their need for connection and love in positive or negative ways.
The need for love is powerful but we need to be careful not to do things, for instance what our family wants, just because we need to be loved. And if brought to an extreme, a need for love is what pushes a person to kidnap their love in the crazy attempt of never separating from them!
The 2 Spiritual Needs / Needs of the Spirit
Why are these needs so important? We must meet our spiritual needs if we want to experience sustainable joy instead of just momentary pleasure.
Everything is either growing or dying. It does not matter how much money you have, how many people acknowledge you or what you have achieved. Unless you feel like you are growing, you will be unhappy and unfulfilled. Seek growth in various situations, money, love, spirituality, etc.
Hand in hand with Growth goes the 6th and last human need:
This is, in my opinion, the most important need because life is not about us. Life is about contribution. We all have a deep need to go beyond ourselves and to live a life that serves the greater good. In the moments that we do this, we experience true joy and fulfilment.
Contribution is the ultimate secret to the joy that so many people wi