Listen to Your Emotions
If you can identify your feeling and listen to their message, your emotions can empower you.
Anger tells you a boundary is crossed.
Sadness signals loss.
Fear signals danger.
Joy is uplifts your energy.
Having feelings is richly human. Your truth matters.
But we’ve all experienced emotional hijacking. Something triggers you, and it’s usually an old wound. On impulse, you move to old behaviors that somehow helped you to take care of that old wound. Icing someone out. Telling someone off. Collapsing into a puddle of unworthiness. Numbing out with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, or work.
Different results will happen when you give yourself space to respond to situations with calm instead of reactivity.
When you have mastery over your feelings, you learn to avoid your knee-jerk impulses that could hurt you and your relationships. That gives you more choices in how to productively respond to triggering situations or your own triggering thinking.
Tending to your emotions can help you increase your resilience and your ability to sustain awesome performance and high character regardless of the stressful situation that might be happening, or to take a pause long enough to process your emotion and return to work when you are able.
Not only does tending to your emotion help your performance, it also helps your emotional, mental, and physical health. There’s opportunity to heal yourself, and byproduct of that might be to offer healing to others who will learn from you how to be present and responsible with your feelings.
Mark Twain said this:
Working through our emotions and stresses, we have the potential to create something beautiful.
So how do you grow your emotional mastery, and positively perfume your world?
Knowing your triggers will help you increase your inner and outer resources to work through a stressful situation, and to find some ease and calm. In working through stressful emotions, you can learn to cultivate the “relaxation response”, a term coined by Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School in the 1970s. You can cultivate your ability to create calm at will. In creating this ease in your body and mind, you can improve your health, relationships, and decision-making skills.
An emotion lasts about 90 seconds, at most. If it lasts beyond 90 seconds, it’s because the emotion is continuously being triggered – either because you have not left the triggering situation, or you are perpetuating the emotion with your thinking.
You can learn to create space between the trigger and your response so your emotions are neither dismissed nor overblown. You can increase your ability to identify your emotion, listen to your need, and respond to your need.
No matter what your emotion is, there are strategies to identify your emotions, listen to your needs, and respond with your best outcome in mind. There are so many fun emotions to look at - here we’re going to look at anger.
Anger comes out of the the need to protect and restore a value, an idea, or a position. Someone has crossed your boundary. Your client is late to a call. You missed your own deadline. A technology glitch messed up a group call. You have a disagreement with your partner about the nature of love.
So, what do you do with your anger?
If you slow down your response, you can feel into it and choose how to respond for the best possible outcome.
Thank it. Celebrate it. Your anger has a place in your body for a reason. Tell your anger that it is absolutely welcome here. Have a personal experience with your anger in your body.
Notice and feel it. Is it hot and sharp? Where is the anger in your body? You might feel tight in your neck. You might feel a sharp sensation in your chest. You might have a headache. Your stomach might feel tight. Feel it.
When it has passed, think about it. How do you typically work with your anger? Do you back down, explode, get frazzled, numb out, or repress your anger? Do you get sarcastic, self-righteous, or overcome with rage? Does your anger empower you or give you clarity?
Consider how your anger impacts your well-being. You might experience anger as powerful and energizing. You might experience it as nauseating and debilitating. When you know your patterns with anger, you have perspective to think about whether your habitual responses to anger serve you, or if there are more productive ways of working with your anger.
Remember your values and choose yourself. What message is your anger telling you? What is important to protect, maintain, and value in this situation?
Choose your response. What will you say or do? Your response could be an internal action or an external action. You might decide to sit in the heat of your anger and let it pass while you remind yourself that you cannot control others.
Or, you might have something to say or do that involves other people. If you do have something to say or do, ask yourself, does it have to be now? Your aim is to communicate your boundaries so you are most effective - direct, empathetic, and clear.
Whether you’re working through anger, sadness, or fear - your emotions can be powerful messengers. It takes time and practice to refine your emotional skills, and no situation is the same so it’s a constant practice.
When you’re emotionally triggered, it’s often because you attach negative thoughts to a situation. A friend is succeeding and that means you can’t. You didn’t get a project that you wanted, and that means that you won’t get any future projects. Someone interrupts you and that means that they don’t value your ideas.
When you are going down the rabbit hole of negative thoughts related to the feeling, pause, and think about alternatives. A friend is succeeding and that means you can learn from them. You don’t get a project that you wanted, and that means that you have space for something even better. Someone interrupts you and that’s because they’re excited about your collective ideas.
The negative thoughts you have about a situation are sometimes right, and sometimes wrong. Imagining positive alternatives is not about denying a shitty situation, but about expanding possibilities and channeling your feelings towards something better.
So, choose yourself when you have strong emotions.
Cultivate a positive intention to use your feelings for good. Anger can lead you to making a clear request or stating a clear need.
Consider how you’d like to feel and be supported. Maybe you need to self-soothe by pausing, taking a walk, wrapping yourself in blankets, placing your right hand on your heart and left hand on your stomach, or breathing in for 3 counts and out for 4 counts.
Consider how you want your customers, clients, and community to feel as you respond to situations that anger you.
Nobody but you can take care of your feelings and needs. Listening to your emotions and responding to them empowers you to lead with your values and your value.