Still Stressful

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We earnestly hope that the turn to the New Year will result in less stress, fewer bad days and the hope of health and prosperity. Yet, reality quickly sets in as job demands and lack of resources come to the forefront. Whether you are experiencing relational challenges at work or an even higher sales goal or perhaps a promotion that is pulling more from you than you think you are capable of giving. These challenges create emotions in us that can help us or hinder our ability to lead effectively.

What do we do with the swirl of emotions resulting from these challenges?

Lately, I have been reflecting on these three principles related to our emotions:

1.) Experience Emotion vs. Interpret Emotion: To experience an emotion is to allow yourself to feel the feelings without self-judgement or condemnation. For example, if you lost a client or a sale allow yourself to be disappointed. You may want to put a time limit on that emotion, the feelings will eventually pass. We often interpret the emotion by trying to figure out why we are feeling a certain way. The challenge is that we sometimes misinterpret our emotions and this may lead us to take ineffective action. An example of this is to notice anxiety about a situation and to interpret the anxiety as a true risk, when in fact you are not really at risk.

2.) Accept Emotion vs. Reject Emotion:  This principle is nuanced from number 1 in that as humans we naturally like to avoid the uncomfortable by seeking to reject negative emotion. In truth, it may be wise to accept the fact that you are feeling disappointed. As leaders and professionals, we need to not let the emotion keep us from taking positive action. It is very important for us to feel negative emotion and move toward positive action. This is challenging and necessary.

3.) Mindfulness, Acceptance & Commitment:  This approach has been helpful to me as I face a cadre of emotions throughout the day. The first step, mindfulness is to  notice the emotion without interpretation or judgement. You may say to yourself “I am feeling frustrated.” From there, moving toward acceptance allows you to feel the emotion and allow it to run its course. Commitment is the third step where you commit to an action that moves you forward.

The new year will have its share of stress.  I just outlined a concept called emotion focused coping, where you cope with stressful emotions with a pro-active approach to lead to greater success. Good luck!