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How a better understanding of “emotional energy” can unlock your potential

According to neuropsychologist Julia DiGangi, no one can live a life free of emotional pain. We can only choose how those emotions empower us.


  • We try to solve problems by focusing on situations. We should focus on our emotional energy instead. 
  • Ask yourself: If all paths guarantee some emotional pain, which pain will empower me? 
  • Rather than outsourcing their emotional work to others, leaders should learn to build emotional resistance and self-trust.

Emotions are powerful — so powerful that they can feel like forces acting upon us. Ancient mythologies are replete with tales of gods toying with human passions, driving their mortal playthings toward often tragic fates. Even modern stories still cast emotions as tiny people pulling levers in our heads or devils whispering enticing evils on our shoulders.

Of course, today we understand that emotions are the expression of electrochemical signals in our brains. However, according to neuropsychologist Julia DiGangi, we seldom appreciate the implications of this fact. Rather than being controlled by emotional energy, we can harness it to catalyze change and improve the ways we experience our lives, lead our teams, and connect with others.

DiGangi recently joined Big Think for a chat about her new book, Energy Rising. During the conversation*, we discussed how emotions exist in the brain; why we often misunderstand emotions, especially negative ones like uncertainty; and how we can better integrate our emotions with our thinking to alter patterns of toxic behavior.


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