This year has been a year where many things have been confusing and outside our control.
Most of us around the world have been operating under many restrictions imposed by governments and businesses.
It has spurred on many, many conversations with leaders about dealing with the emotions around what is in their control and what is not.
One leader who has been experiencing frustration with the frequent turnover in the executive team over the past few years was voicing her frustrations. “I’m trying to do my part in leading my team yet there are so many things going on from a cross functional team perspective that we could be doing so much better. If they could just see the inefficiencies and inequities, it would be less frustrating for the rest of us.”
Our conversation turned to how frustrated she is with things outside her control and how it is impacting her emotional state in other areas of her life.
She admitted she is more short-tempered these days and can see how that might be impacting her team and her family. Then started the cycle of beating herself up for having those emotions and not being more in control.
As opposed to denying and suppressing these emotions, we talked about how she might use the triggers as opportunities to stop, connect with the frustration, and reframe what she can do differently.
In this talk "The gift and power of emotional courage" Harvard professor and psychologist, Susan David, talks about the benefits of finding appropriate ways to express those emotions, stop judging ourselves for having these emotions and working on our emotional agility.
She shares research that highlights the more we try to suppress emotions the more amplified these emotions become. So, suppression is not the answer!
Expression not Suppression
We went on to brainstorm ways this leader could be okay with the fact she is ‘pissed off’ about some things and explored ways to express her emotions to move her from feeling out of control to in control.
Here are a few things we played around with…
- Pay attention to your language, is it ‘victim’ language or is it ‘I’m owning my part’ language
- Use mantras and self-talk – here are a few she came up with “What’s in my control in this situation and what’s not?”, “Another day, another opportunity.”, “We can be imperfect and still strive for greatness”, “I am doing my best.”, “I can be upset and still be grateful.”
- Expressing gratitude – look for opportunities to say thank you and well done
- Share your feelings about the impact on you, without blaming others, and ask for help soring through it or gaining another perspective
- What’s your attitude going into the day? What’s your attitude by noon? Has there been a shift? Are you happy with the shift? What’s influenced the shift?
- Do you have an open/abundance mindset or a of lack mind set.
- How many times per day do you smile?
- How do you perceive situations? Are you looking for what’s not going well or are you seeking out what is going well?
- Are you stuck in your own perspective or are you curious about other’s perspectives?
- Journaling – Susan David suggests the practice of secret silent correspondence with yourself, “write what you are feeling, tell the truth, write like no one is reading it”
- Breathing techniques – it is amazing what specific breathing techniques can do for you. You can do some of these in the moment when you are experiencing stress and also create a daily practice for overall wellness. Here are 10 Breathing Exercises to Try.
- Meditation and mindfulness – for beginners, guided meditations or mindfulness practices are a great way to introduce yourself to these practices that have proven health benefits. Try out this 15 Minute Guided Meditation
- Cold showers – our colleague was sharing his positive experience with this method of improving your wellbeing, thanks Fernando!
4. Be mindful of how you treat others
- Be generous – the ripple effect of generosity envelopes not only the other person who is receiving your generosity, but also envelopes you and has a positive impact on your health. “Science has proven a correlation between generous actions, feelings of happiness, and overall health…”
- Assume positive intent in others, if there is doubt about someone’s intent, have a candid conversation as opposed to making an assumption that might not be accurate and could damage the relationship
Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Her statement reinforces that when things are confusing and feel out of control, we only have control over ourselves…how we treat ourselves and how we treat others.
We’d love to hear how you are processing your emotions and dealing with things outside your control!
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- The Value of Generosity for Executives & HR Managers
- Self Care as an Executive Leader
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