This morning I found a statement on LinkedIn that made me baffle „Train your mind to be stronger than your emotions.“ And while I am not the most reactive person anymore, I felt compelled to write an answer. And this article. Am I emotional? Yes. Is this a good thing? Yes. And here’s why. I have learned to use my emotions as a very valuable guiding system for how I feel. And how I want to feel. It took a bit of practice but works. Let’s start from the beginning.
Don’t be so emotional
Ever heard this sentence? Remember it from your childhood? Growing up I heard this sentence over and over again. I was a very sensitive child and in tune with all the emotions I witnessed flowing around me. Also, I saw a lot of let’s generously call it misbehavior and reacted by crying for I couldn’t put into words for what I was experiencing. So I was told, “don’t be so emotional”. What I learned was
- Emotions are a bad thing
- Emotions have to be controlled
- Don’t cry! Ever!
And from the age of fourteen, I started to experience anxiety and reoccurring panic attacks. I never talked about it because I didn’t want to appear “emotional”.
Suppressed emotions can cause severe imbalance
My story is not a unique story. Over the years I consulted and coaching many individuals up to C-level and the secret confession of having anxiety came up over and over again. I call it secret confession because having anxiety is still stigmatized in society. Having anxiety makes you vulnerable. And in a highly competitive area like business it’s something you better hide.
It wasn’t until my training as a Certified Stress Prevention Coach that I started seeing through the maze of thought and emotion. And what suppressed emotions can cause in our health and well-being. Suppressed emotions can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, constant self-denial, psychic imbalance and much more. In my point of view, suppressed emotions are a root cause of burnout. I got so interested in the topic that over the last six years I spent a good amount of my time into private research on this subject. An interesting “hobby” to have, I know.
The way out – Validating emotions
Today I can proudly say that I had my last panic attack in February 2016. The anxiety dissipated for the most part. And the very few moments I experience it I know how to deal with it. And the first step is to validate that I experience anxiety. Simple as that. No more denial, no more suppression. I also have learned to validate all my emotions. Even anger, even rage. Please don’t get me wrong here. Validating your emotions doesn’t mean that you have to act on them. You don’t. Just acknowledge them. And if you are uncertain how to label your emotion, this chart might help you.
You will notice that the simple act of validating your emotion will take the power of the very same. Admitting to yourself that you are very angry right now will take the larger part of the anger away. It’s as if you let the air out of a balloon. And it will take you to a bit better feeling place immediately. And why would you want to feel better? Because this is how we truly are. In fact, every negative emotion is a sign or a yearning to get back to this innate happiness each and everybody is in the core of our beings. And every negative emotion causes an internal tug of war.
Reach for the next best feeling thought
Have you ever tried to deliberately choose a thought? If not, the following might take some practice. I do, however, guarantee you that if you integrate the following process into your career life, the very same will change. Let’s say you are in a meeting and your boss called you out in front of all your colleagues. You might feel angry. And humiliated. Validate these emotions. Don’t tell your boss that you are angry (and get yourself caught in an argument) but admit it to yourself silently “I am (very) angry. I feel humiliated.” And then try to reach for a better feeling thought. Any thought that brings relief in your situation. This could be “he shouldn’t have done it.” Technically this is blame, but still feels better than guilt, right? (see chart) And putting yourself down will spiral you down. You want up. Another thought could be “this meeting is over soon. I will manage.” and “I look forward to … later the day”. Try to find more better thoughts that ease your (negative) emotion. If you are unsure if the thought is beneficial for you, pay attention to your body reaction. Emotional relief leads to less tension in the body. Also taking some deep breaths might help.
The practical use of validating emotions
The good thing about thought is that they are highly attractant to other thoughts. But YOU have to make the start and guide the direction. And here comes another good thing: When you spiral yourself out of anger, your environment might change magically. Well, it’s not magic but universal law. You might know it as the Law of Attraction or the Law of Entrainment.
At last, I would like to give more practical examples of how to use your newly gained ability to validate your emotion for your career. Especially when it’s not going so well:
Get yourself into a better feeling place.
Only then things can change. YOU have to change first! Validate the frustration and then think and feel yourself out. If your situation doesn’t change apply for another job. It’s important is to get out of the frustration first! Frustration will only get you a frustrating job. (read here) Again, it’s the universal Law of Attraction. Nobody is exempt from it. Not even you.
Dare to FEEL into your desired job.
You know they say thought creates things. Yes, true. But here’s the catch. Emotions and feelings create way faster. This is the reason why you might think one thing and life throws you back another. Life “responds” to feelings much first. One reason more to validate them. And to get yourself into a good feeling place to attract good feeling situations. Like getting a nice new job that pays you well. Dare to dream. This is not delusional. There’s nothing wrong with wishing a better life for yourself. Quite the opposite. Think about this way: If you get out of your situation you might inspire others. And this is a very rewarding feeling. However, first and foremost: Dream for yourself. Is it selfish? Depends whom you ask. Again, you might inspire others.
Shift your focus for a while
If you are out of job, here comes another counter-intuitive recommendation. Many coaches will tell you that if out of job your 9-5 job is finding a new one. I respectfully disagree. Especially when the response rate is low, you can easily get frustrated. Again, get yourself out of the frustration first and then search for jobs. Then apply. Also, there is no shame in being unemployed for a while. Don’t hesitate to do things you love while you have free time now. Enjoy it! Milk it! Shift your focus from the job hunt for a while. Bring more ease into your life no matter what. Guess what? Your job hunt will ease, too. Dare to be happy even if you are unemployed.
Some last statements
Now, this has become very long and still, there is a lot to say. So let’s sum it up:
- Don’t suppress your emotions but allow them for your own well-being in life
- Use the Emotional Guidance System to feel better
- Choose your thoughts deliberately. Don’t be shy to put in some practice.
- Shift your focus for a while to get “unstuck”.
- Dare to feel. Dare to dream. No matter what others say
hope this helps you a bit. If it does, let me know. If you miss information or have questions I like to know.
Have a wonderful day!