Using Emotions to Facilitate Thinking

The second branch of Salovey, Meyer and Caruso’s model of Emotional Intelligence is “Using Emotions to Facilitate Thinking”. By knowing how emotions affect our thinking and how to utilise our emotions we can become more effective at problem solving, reasoning, decision making and creativity.

Emotions serve many purposes including:

  •  Prioritising thinking.
  • Helping to gain multiple  perspective.
  • Accessing different types of reasoning and problem solving strategies.

It is worth noting that some tasks can be achieved more easily and effectively with a slightly negative mood however if an individual is constantly in that mood they may not
experience well being. Therefore a key element of this branch is the ability to change moods.

Negative moods can provide:

  •  Clear focus with a narrow   field.
  • More attention to detail.
  • Enhanced ability to spot  errors.

Positive moods can provide:

  • Expanded thinking, a bigger  picture view of things.
  • More creativity for new ideas and options.
  • A willingness to explore possibilities and be flexible in approach.

People do experience moods differently and so, from a personal development perspective it is worth checking that you understand your own moods. What kind of moods do you
typically experience? What triggers them off? How easily do you currently control your own moods?

There is some very good news! Although there are individual differences in how we experience moods techniques for changing moods work for us all!

Moving from one mood to another

In NLP we have long been aware of our power to shift moods and use many of the suggestions below as tools to do just that. Most of these techniques are taught as part of our NLP Practitioner training course. Any of the following can help to get someone into a mood…

  • Language (words and thoughts),  what we say to ourselves and others literally means we talk ourselves into or out of moods. Our internal dialogue is that internal chatterbox that  constantly comments on our experience. Sometimes this inner voice is  helpful and at other times less so. Just as importantly the way we talk to others about our experience will also influence our mood. For example, if    we talk about a project in an excited way using positive and motivated  language our positive affect increases.
  •  Voice (tonality, pitch, accent etc), the way we say something impacts on how we feel. This is already implied in my example above, notice how tonality and our breathing pattern when discussing an experience changes our mood. This can be done as an exercise. Choose something you are wanting to achieve in the next few days. Speak about it first in a low energy, slow voice with lots of sighing. How do you feel about doing that task? Now stand up and move around to shake off that mood. Now speak about that goal with high energy, fast speaking and with an upbeat rhythm in your voice. How much more committed do you feel to that task now?
  •  Physiology (body language/posture/movement) – our posture is a reflection of how we feel, equally when we move consciously shift from say a “tense”
    posture to a more relaxed one our mood tends to follow. In the example used in the previous section on voice notice how your physiology was naturally different between the two versions. This is very natural, out tone and physiology tend to change together. Consciously managing both of these aspects of our expression can be relatively easy and so a quick way of shifting our mood.
  •  Pictures (internal or external) – External pictures refers to what we are looking at in the outside world. This can be anything from watching the news to looking at     art. Although it is important to know what is going on in the world the amount of time we spend watching the news or looking at negative pictures in newspapers can have a strong impact on our mood. NLP is a tool that allows us to examine and change the internal images or pictures that we     are using in our thinking. Often our internal pictures operate on an unconscious level, by becoming more aware of these images we can make changes to our processing of experiences. For example, if we hold an internal image or representation of ourselves that could be described as negative it will effect how we feel about ourselves. This in turn will     impact on mood. Using NLP techniques, we can improve our internal representation and in turn improve both our mood and our self esteem.

In September we will be running our next NLP Practitioner. I recommend this training to anyone wanting to improve their ability to shift from one mood to another and to improve self-esteem. This course will also help identify unhelpful beliefs that have been blocking
you and give you the tools to experience significant personal transformation.

The link below gives more information of this course.

Next week we will be moving onto the third branch of emotional intelligence, “understanding emotions and predicting emotional outcomes”.




About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
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