Emotion and Mental Capacity

During these challenging times, fear, anxiety and frustration could be diminishing your mental capacity and depleting your energy. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Mental capacity

When the medical profession speaks of mental capacity, they’re referring to the person’s ability to make decisions on their own. The mental capacity I’m referring to is the overall capacity to deal with whatever you’re facing.

While I have found no hard numbers that indicate what percentage of our mental capacity we typically utilize, I know from personal experience that the percentage drops dramatically when I’m in an emotional state.


I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well. You’re working on a project that you feel ill-equipped to handle. You’re anxious because you feel you are in over your head. In your anxiety you’re expecting problems and, as if self-fulfilling prophecies, they occur. With each new problem, you become increasingly frustrated. So much so that at some point, you simply walk away from the project.

Almost as soon as you turn away, the solution to the problem surfaces and you return to the project with renewed energy and excitement. The questions are “Why this sudden shift from abject frustration to excited resolution? What was it that caused this sudden shift?”

Sudden shift

The shift occurred because you consciously set aside emotions that were draining your mental capacity. Fear, anxiety and frustration are emotional drains. While experiencing these emotions, a significant part of your mind’s capacity is devoted to considering:

  • What could go wrong.
  • What you’ll do if something does go wrong.
  • What consequences you might experience if things go wrong.
  • What did go wrong and why?
  • Why does this have to be so difficult?

With all of these distracting thoughts, and the energy drain that accompanies them, is it any wonder that we’re operating at less than full mental capacity?

When we either exhaust ourselves or choose to set the project aside for now, these emotions subside and our mental capacity immediately returns. That’s why solutions to the problem surface almost as quickly as we turn away from the project. Our full mental capacity is being utilized…both our conscious and subconscious minds’ capacity.

Subconscious mind

Of the two, conscious and subconscious minds, the subconscious is the more adept and more powerful problem solver. When we either exhaust ourselves emotionally or choose to set aside a project, we’re simultaneously assigning our subconscious mind the task of finding a solution.

When freed of the emotional blocks that we’ve created, and often nurtured, the subconscious mind works very quickly to provide solutions. That’s why we get solutions almost as quickly as we turn away from the project we find so frustrating.

For you

Knowing that emotions like fear, anxiety and frustration greatly diminish your mental capacity enables you to more quickly recognize that:

  • You’re in an unproductive emotional state.
  • Choosing to walk away from the project will remove the emotional block.
  • Your subconscious mind, once free of emotion, will do its job and quickly provide a solution.

This awareness, and these simple actions, will dramatically improve your quality of life while equally dramatically improving your productivity.

For our kids

When you see your kids feeling anxious, fearful or frustrated, let them know that when you face a situation like theirs you find that solutions surface quickly when you temporarily set aside the problem and devote your attention to something you can accomplish.

As your kids experience how quickly they get results using this approach, they’ll wonder why it works that way. Then you can explain to them how the subconscious mind works. For more information on the subconscious mind and how to tap its power consciously and at will, check out my book, One With The Universe.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please leave your comment below.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs.

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.

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2 Responses

  1. Bill Prenatt

    Dale, I know you know that I am a big fan of yours.
    Can you clear up a mystery for me? What keeps people from moving from awareness, to acceptance, to action on this remarkably simple life changing idea?

    • Dale C Furtwengler

      Bill, there’s probably an entire book if not a series needed to deal with this question, but here’s a short answer. Generally speaking, in my opinion, what you are asking bespeaks a fork in the road. One tine of the fork leads ultimately to action, the other to despair. If a person’s experience is one of consistently being able to deal with challenging situations, they’ll choose the action tine. If their experience is a 50/50 to 60/40 assessment of their ability to deal with challenges, they’ll nurture their doubts, fears and anxiety until they exhaust themselves. In that moment of exhaustion, they embrace an action-oriented mindset and choose the action tine. If, however, their assessment is that they are rarely able to deal effectively with lives challenges, they’ll subconsciously choose the despair tine. The demarcation lines are different for different people. Some of us are more naturally inclined to seeing the negative while others of us see potential. Some of each view is hereditary, some environmental. I hope this answers your question Bill.

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