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InfoQ Homepage Articles Q&A on the Book Emotional Science

Q&A on the Book Emotional Science

Key Takeaways

  • Even though emotions are part of our everyday experience of life, we often are not aware of how deeply they impact us
  • Negative emotions impact our ability to function
  • Having positive emotions allows us to be more resourceful and effective
  • Becoming more aware of negative emotions and how they feel in your body when you are frustrated, arguing, or keep thinking about something bothering you, is a first step towards a positive, resourceful emotional state
  • You can clear challenging emotions simply by focusing on the physical sensation and breathing into it

The book Emotional Science:The Key to Unlocking High Performance by Michael K Sahota and Audree Tara Sahota provides an understanding of emotions, which, as stated by the authors, goes beyond current models in psychology. The book provides exercises that can be used to become aware of emotions and learn how to deal with them, which is a practical way of increasing your Emotional Intelligence.

InfoQ readers can download an excerpt of Emotional Science: The Key to Unlocking High Performance.

InfoQ interviewed the authors on what emotional science is and which role emotions play in our daily lives, using exercises for dealing with emotions, emotional wounds and the emotional freedom system, and how to coach people for increasing their capabilities to deal with emotions.

InfoQ: What made you decide to write this book?

Michael K Sahota: I have struggled with my emotions all my life and have invented a novel way of understanding emotions that allow us to overcome them. I realized that people do not have access to this information, and what I had discovered goes beyond the usual understanding in psychology. I realized this could really help people in their personal and professional lives. And it is deeply connected with how I am training leaders worldwide to create high-performance organizations.

Audree Tara Sahota: In 2008, I went to the emergency room for what I thought was a heart attack. It was "only" an anxiety attack. I was astounded by the diagnosis of Prozac. I am lifelong meditator, practice a healthy lifestyle and am a professionally trained energetic healer with a deep understanding of human psychology and a healthy lifestyle. This incongruity led to a deeper study and understanding of how emotions affect our physical well being.

InfoQ: For whom is the book intended?

Michael K Sahota: Emotional Science is for people who are interested in functioning at their fullest potential and high levels of performance. People willing to look inside of themselves and take responsibility for creating their life. It creates results in both our personal and professional lives. We specifically recommend this for business leaders who are interested in developing their personal effectiveness.

InfoQ: What is emotional science?

Michael K Sahota: First, it’s an exploration of the topic of emotions. Second, it is an experiential personal investigation of our inner world of emotions. We show you how to become your own experimental scientist to link your emotional experiences to a concrete, simple and practical model. This is not an academic or theoretical approach. It is specifically designed so that readers create their own understanding of how emotions work and how they impact our lives. Then we give you a practical step-by-step guide to overcome emotional roadblocks.

InfoQ: Which role do emotions play in our daily work?

Michael K Sahota: We experience emotions with every interaction or event. Every email we read. Every meeting we have. And every deadline we have to meet. Most of the time we are only peripherally aware of our emotional state and the impact it has on our ability to function.

Imagine if you are in a positive, resourceful emotional state all day. Where nothing fazes you. Where you calmly interact with people and events with a positive, healthy outlook. Where you overcome challenges without hesitation.

On the other hand, most of us experience days that are punctuated with frustration, annoyance, fear, and anxiety. Other people’s emotional reactions can put us into a less resourced emotional state.

InfoQ: What can we do to move towards a positive, resourceful emotional state?

Michael K Sahota: That’s what we all want - to be in a positive, resourceful emotional state. Not only does it feel good, we are much more productive and effective. We make better decisions.

Awareness is the first step. Here are three things that you can start to notice about yourself:

  • Feeling frustrated at times during the day
  • "Looping Thoughts" - Repetitive thoughts around one particular topic that come with an uncomfortable feeling
  • Arguing with people

What you can do when you notice an emotional disturbance (including the ones above):

  1. Admit to yourself that you are feeling an emotional disturbance and that it is preventing you from operating at your best.
  2. Notice the uncomfortable feeling in your body.
  3. Emotional disturbances activate physical sensations in the body. The next step is to take 10 minutes and do a breathing exercise to get clear.

Get Clear Technique - Steps

  1. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Take three slow breaths.
  4. Bring awareness to your body.    
  5. Bring your awareness to the physical sensation in your body.
  6. Bring all of your awareness to the physical sensations in your body; it will begin to get uncomfortable.
  7. Breathe into the bodily sensation.
  8. Breathe into the physical sensations ... into the discomfort.
  9. Allow the sensations in your body to intensify.
  10. Keep breathing into the uncomfortable sensations until the timer goes off.

In the book, we give people access to a guided exercise to walk them through this process step-by-step.

InfoQ: In your book there are many exercises to help become aware of emotions and for dealing with them. What purposes do these exercises serve?

Tara Sahota: The exercises are specifically designed to take readers on a journey of understanding how their emotions work. The only way to understand your own emotions is to look at different situations and observe patterns that are there. This is not like psychotherapy - we are not looking at the causes of emotions. Readers will understand that emotions are normal and function in a very specific way.

Many readers are astonished that such critical information is not mainstream knowledge. We simplify what others have over-analyzed and complicated.

InfoQ: What are emotional wounds?

Tara Sahota: Emotional wounds are created in the early years of our life, during an event that was challenging or overwhelming. The nervous system uses various techniques to protect us from pain, thus the "wound" is stored away, yet fully active on a subconscious level. This is a very simplified explanation, yet enough to understand what is happening to us.

The wound itself is then felt during situations and events that are patterned matched by the brain. We think the emotions and reactions are from the present moment. When there is knowledge about emotional reactions and wounds, we can make better choices when experiencing them.

InfoQ: What is the Emotional Freedom System, and how can it help to deal with emotions in and outside the workplace?

Michael K Sahota: The Emotional Freedom System gives two powerful ways of dealing with challenging emotions. One works with our logical mind and the other works directly with our emotional system. There is a step-by-step checklist that lets you reorient your thinking when experiencing an emotional challenge so that you reduce the impact on you and your behaviour. We also provide an exercise to clear the emotion so you can function at your full potential. These work really well when used together to navigate and recover from the routine emotional challenges. We have given part of the checklist and a short version of the Get Clear exercise above so you can get started today.

The diagram below is an easy way to understand how we as people have a choice about how we choose to live our lives. We can act from emotional wounds and cause damage, or we can take responsibility for our inner state and create positive outcomes.

In the words of Viktor Frankl: "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

InfoQ: How can we coach people for increasing their capabilities to deal with emotions?

Michael K Sahota: There is a lot of focus in leadership and coaching communities on helping others. Although these skills are needed, there is usually inadequate attention on our own functioning. It turns out that before we can really help anyone else, we need to help ourselves first. So the starting place is to be in an emotionally clear state ourselves. And this is a lot harder than it sounds. It turns out most of us almost immediately have an emotional reaction to someone else’s emotions. It’s a long but rewarding journey for us to model emotionally healthy behaviour. So the greatest impact comes from modeling, not coaching.

Tara Sahota: Coaching has become a big industry. It seems that everyone has turned into a coach. I am a great advocate of having a coach. Yet how would you begin to find one? And are you yourself a good coach? There is a very clear definitive answer. What is your life like and what is your coach’s life like? It’s simple; putting on the oxygen mask first and really answering the question of how you are showing up in relationships and life. Coaching isn’t about the other; coaching is about using the tools and techniques on your own life, having mastery and then guiding others into their own self mastery. Transformation in life is a transmission of your own experience, only to be taught by and guided by those who have done the hard work themselves. Of course, the journey of self mastery is ongoing.

About the Authors

Michael K Sahota trains and guides leaders on how to create high-performance organizations. His highly accoladed "Agile" Culture & Leadership (CAL1) Training gives gives managers and coaches worldwide the mindset shift needed for lasting success. In 2012, he published the ground-breaking book "An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide: Working with Organizational Culture".


Audree Tara Sahota is an expert in mindset and consciousness, with over 10 years of formal training as an energetic healer, meditation and Kundalini Yoga Instructor. She has been formally trained in India to create a permanent neurobiological shift of consciousness needed to get high performance. Tara’s unique integration of human psychology, disease, consciousness and mindset allows her to laser coach her clients through the toughest, most subtle life-long blocks and obstacles.

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