3 ways to make your feelings and emotions cooperate with your goals
In our first world society we, very often, rely on our mind and avoid feelings and emotions on our professional mind.
We can thank Descartes among others for this. His saying :
“ I Think, therefore I am”
came in very handy while trying to fight the previous magical/ religious mentality that was holding progress back.
I have no grudge against Descartes, I promise,I even think very highly of him, but I would complete his sentence:
“ I think, I have a body, I experience feelings and emotions …., therefore I am”
1- The real value of feelings and emotions
Feelings and emotions are not a useless thing. They have a purpose. Our main emotions : Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, and all their sisters and brothers are there for a reason. They have something to say and are willing to be heard.
Emotions colour our reality. They are the lens that allows us to see what is going on. A jam is not valued in the same way if you are feeling happy and content or if you have had a row with a loved one. And still, the jam is the same.
We construct the narrative that we live in. The stories that we tell ourselves go through the lens of our feelings. Research shows that the actual experience has less impact on us than the narrative we use. Here is where acknowledging our feelings is useful. We cannot change facts, but we can be aware of the feelings that accompany us and change our narrative so that we make the most of the situation.
2- 3 simple ways to make our emotions be of use to us
So here are 3 simple ways to make our emotions be of use to us:
Get to know your feelings. To do so just feel them without judgement. Simple, isn’t it? Well, in fact it is. If you want to practice feeling your emotions just try this:
Get yourself an ice cube and put it in a glass. A napkin or cloth is also useful.
Sit down and relax
Put the ice cube in your hands, feel the cold
Stay with the feeling for as long as you can
Are you ready to run away from this annoying feeling? Stay a bit longer
Just observe what is going on with you … stay for as long as you can.
This will train you for not running away from your feelings
Now try this with an emotion you don’t like, and then with an emotion you enjoy.
What goes on in your mind? What happens in your body? What is the emotion telling you?
Increase your emotional vocabulary. Saying I am happy or sad or angry … is fine, but it does not give much information. Feelings are often mixed is like when you put together yellow and blue, it is no longer yellow and blue but… green.
Learn more about feelings and emotions. The most entertaining way I have found is the film “inside out”. Have a look at the trailer.
3- What you get from mastering your emotions
What immediate benefits will you get from this? Many for sure, but I see two that can help us with our professional life
If you know what the facts are and you know what your feelings are, you can consciously change the lens (emotion/feeling) in which you are looking at the facts to best serve your purpose. Just imagine you made a mistake at work (fact) and your boss is not happy with it and clearly lets you know it (another fact) …. You might feel shame, is a natural reaction, or anger. No need to run away from them, stay (as with the ice cube), listen to what your feelings are trying to tell you … see them evolve… and then change the story you are telling yourself to something that can be useful to you.
In your mind it could look like this:
I have made a mistake
My boss is not happy
He/she is an ash… but ok, he might have a point there
I am feeling ashamed … and is not a feeling I like
Then you can choose:
Version a: How could I have done this? Is so obvious … They are going to fire me, what will I do? I am the most stupid human on earth …
Version b: Is there anything I can learn from this? How can I avoid this mistake in the future? I know I am feeling ashamed but I also know that emotions do not last forever … I will just take it easy
It will increase your leadership skills. Despite our differences we are all very similar. We fight similar battles. Contacting your emotions will allow you to contact other people.
So here you have, an exercise, a reading and a film to guide you through the discovery of your emotions.
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