How to Use Emotional Time Travel

man in gray shirt sits on cliff

Have you ever wished that you could time travel? Unfortunately, in this day of age we can’t, at least not in the way you might be thinking. However, we can time travel in our thoughts and emotions. This is what we like to call Emotional Intelligence Time Travel. It's the ability to control your thoughts and emotions so that you can direct your behaviors and decision-making towards achieving your goals.   

What we mean by this is that you can change your frame of mind from the past, present, or future. By doing this, you can change the emotions or thoughts that you are having. When you are in control of your thoughts and emotions, then you can have control over your behavior. If you can control your behavior, then you can direct it towards achieving your goals.

It all starts in your mind.

Imagine if you’re having the worst day of your life and your mind is fixated on negativity. All that it might take is for you to time travel and change what you’re focusing on in your head. You might zoom back in time to your happiest childhood memory or zoom ahead to envision your future of achieving goals. A shift in perspective allows you to change what you’re thinking about to create positive emotions that will help motivate you to achieve your goals.

To break this example down, you have the power to think of a memory in the past or future that allows you to feel a certain emotion. The things that you focus on in life, is what controls how you feel. If you think of positive memories, then you will feel positive emotions. If you think of negative experiences, then you will feel negative emotions. By knowing this, it can empower you to stay in control and regulate your emotions.

Just like a thermostat, when it senses that the temperature drops, the heat is triggered to turn on. Similarly, you could think of this idea when you regulate your emotions. If you’re feeling down, then pump yourself up with positive memories from the past or exciting visions for the future to feel positive. Once you master the ability to have the self-control to think of specific memories or visions on command, then the next step is being able to do it when you are experiencing negative thoughts and emotions.

You can beat the negativity that you are currently feeling by thinking of memories that bring you positive emotions. You can practice self-reflection to gather up positive memories to be used for you. However, you can’t change the past. You might not have a lot of defining memories that bring positivity into your life.

Fortunately, you can always stay optimistic for a positive future.

The key to be able to do this is by creating a significant Life’s Purpose. This will provide you with a grand vision for the future that will keep driving you to want to wake up in the morning. If you ever feel down or depressed, then you can look to your vision to give you the motivation to keep pushing you forward. Unlike the past that is set in stone, you always can make something out of the future. You can be pessimistic that nothing positive will ever happen or you can have optimism to take responsibility and be well-intentioned in making a positive impact.

By understanding what makes you unique, you can align that with a life’s purpose that is personalized. No one else can achieve this personalized life’s purpose besides you. You’d be doing the world a disservice if you were to quit because only you would be able to live out that personalized life’s purpose.

woman wearing gray sleeveless blouse

Another important aspect of time travel in your emotions is understanding what emotions you experience during what frame of mind.

 

Happiness and Joy are positive emotions we experience due to thoughts in the past.

Sadness, Depression, and Guilt are negative emotions that we experience due to thoughts in the past.

Anxiety and Fear are negative emotions we feel due to thoughts about the future.

Excitement and Motivation are positive emotions we feel due to thoughts about the future.

 

By knowing this framework, you can be more mindful in using your thoughts to feel certain emotions. It’s important to note that in this framework we’ve laid out, you usually can’t feel happy or sad about things that haven’t already happened. Only until you have had the experience and formed a memory in your thoughts are you typically able to have emotions of happiness or sadness. Conversely, you usually can’t feel anxiety or excitement about things that have happened in the past. Only when you are thinking about failing in the future do you feel anxiety.

All in all, you can’t feel anxious or fearful when thinking about stuff in the past. You can’t feel sad or depressed when thinking about something in the future. Now as we said, this is just a framework. It may not be 100% scientifically accurate. However, the goal is that it will provide you with a guide to keep your thoughts and emotions organized in times of emotional distress.   

Side note - you can’t experience emotions from thoughts you have in the present in this framework. Thoughts that produce emotion are based in the past or future. The sensations you experience in the present are only from your 5 senses: touch, taste, smell, hear, sight. If you experience emotions while using your 5 senses in the present, then this is because your mind is getting triggered to think of thoughts from the past or future that relates to the sense you’re experiencing. The 5 senses used in the present by itself cannot give you emotions.

Use this framework to your advantage. By changing your thoughts, you will be able to change your emotions. Below is a visual diagram to help you understand which positive or negative emotion is experienced in either the past or future.

The diagram above will help you in identifying what emotions you are having and how to react to them. It shows you which emotions you feel according to the time frame that your thoughts are in. If you are having negative thoughts in the future, then you will have anxiety or fear. If you are having negative thoughts in the past, you are experiencing anger, depression, and guilt. Once you identify the emotion you’re having and what time frame the thoughts are coming from, then you an be more effective in regulating your emotions. 

For example, let’s say that you are suffering from anxiety. As you can see in the diagram, anxiety is an emotion you have when you are having negative thoughts in the future. If you can identify that you’re feeling anxiety and realize that it’s due to negative thoughts in the future, then you’re halfway there to regulating your emotions.

Next, you must take responsibility to control your thoughts. A way to do this is by using coping techniques to ease the initial negative emotion. Once you regain control over your mind, you will direct positive thoughts in the past or future that get you away from emotion of anxiety. In this case, you can either think about an exciting, motivating, or inspiring vision for the future or a happy thought that fulfilled you in the past.

By using this technique, you can have the self-control and emotional regulation to keep you pushing towards your goals. If you are having an off day filled with negative thoughts, refer to this diagram to combat emotional distress to keep you happy and motivated. Your positive thoughts will evoke positive emotions that will cause you to behave in a direction towards positive change.

As a quick rule of thumb, we laid out a step by step guide for Emotional Time Travel below:

  1. You are experiencing negative emotions
  2. Apply coping techniques
  3. Identify the emotion
  4. Identify the thought causing the emotion
  5. Identify what time frame this thought is coming from
  6. Think of positive thoughts in the past or future
  7. Allow these thoughts evoke positive emotions

 

person standing near cliff

Now, we totally understand that this is a lot easier said than done. This framework is not for everyone. You might be able to get something out of it or nothing at all. It also might take a lot of practice and hard work to master. We understand that everyone’s personality is different and what might work for us might not work for you. Also, using this technique is not a one time fix for all your emotional distress. Regulating your mental health is an ongoing process. Life will always be throwing new challenges your way and it might take many different techniques to keep your mental health in check. The point of this is not to give you a quick fix to all your life’s problems. Instead, the intention is to share an idea so that we can help people gain a better understanding about their personal mental health. 

There also might be more to the emotional distress than, simply, negative thinking. You may have to learn and understand the experience fully before coming to acceptance of the thoughts to resolve the emotions. There also could be a chemical imbalance that’s causing perpetual emotional distress. You may be in emotional crisis that is uncontrollable with coping techniques. Medications may also be needed in case of an emergency. At this point, seeking a medical professional might be best.

Emotional Time Travel is a framework that you can refer to when you are in temporary emotional distress. It’s a quick guide that can help you in identifying where your emotions are coming from and what to do to maintain your mental health. Thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are three areas of mental health that you can gain self-control in. If you are in control of them, then you can direct your decision-making to complete your goals.

Developing Emotional Time Travel will be an on-going process with many ups and downs for you to personally develop. You must put this framework into practice by consciously working on it in your daily life. It may take years to develop until you see positive results. However, in order to achieve greatness, one must harness the power of discipline and self-control. Good luck in your journey to becoming the greatest you that you can become.  

Thank you for reading our blog and we hope you all have a great day! =)  

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