First a quote; “Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way.” – Mavis Mazhura
Good morning and happy Monday. I hope this morning missive finds you and yours both safe and healthy.
A little more than 20 years ago, I had an opportunity to speak with hundreds of people about a pending merger between two very large corporations. It was an interesting time. Many I spoke with were looking forward with excitement, optimism, and hope. Some were getting promotions and bigger jobs; some were getting demotions; hundreds knew their jobs were in jeopardy, others waited anxiously for news about their future employment pending a “resource review” between the two organizations. Emotionally, people were all over the map and, they were all over the map at different times and in different ways.
I started each of the “Leading Change” presentations in a similar manner, with a simple question which was, “How are you?” I didn’t ask the question as if I were some casual passerby on the street. It was intended to be a genuine, authentic inquiry. I was inviting people to share, and discuss, their emotions.
Today, during this pandemic, I ask you the same question, “How are you? Right at this very moment, how are you really?
If we were sitting having a cup of coffee this morning, face-to-face, and you asked me the same question, I would likely give an answer very similar to what I might have said 20 years ago. My answer might sound something like this, “Over the last two weeks, I have been on an emotional roller-coaster, one minute up, confident, and ok, the next minute down, discouraged, and perhaps even anxious. Mostly, I seem to feel fatigued and emotionally exhausted. How about you?”
In some ways, my experience with a corporate merger twenty years ago has helped me be better prepared for coping with this current reality. This morning, I’ll share several life lessons that have been beneficial to me and others:
Lesson 1 – Emotions Happen!
We are emotional creatures. A single news report about 3.25 million people losing their jobs might cause some to feel sadness and empathy for the people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, or perhaps, others might feel frightened about the possibility of losing their job. Some might be angry about what the government has or hasn’t done. I use these three emotions as examples only. There are likely as many unique emotional responses to that story as the number of people who heard the story. Not only are we emotional creatures, but we are unique in both what, and how, we feel. That is why it is risky to tell, or suggest, how others “should” feel.
Emotions happen without warning and without invitation; something happens, and we experience emotions, we feel something, that is what makes us human. We can use our emotions to help us understand what our needs are at that moment in time. This is perhaps a topic for another time.
– Emotions, in and of themselves, are not good, or bad, they happen and they’re real.
– Try not to judge or condemn yourself (or others) because of what you feel.
– Allow yourself grace and compassion regarding the emotions you feel.
– Choose how you will consciously, and intentionally, respond.
I have found repeating these words can be very helpful, “I can’t help the way I feel right now, but I can help, and choose, the way I think and act.”
Lesson 2 – Emotional Grieving and Healing, is a Process!
While many of us may not even be consciously aware, at some level, almost all of us are experiencing some grief. While we are likely grieving differently, and for different reasons, we are grieving as individuals and as a society. For example, we might be grieving our loss of:
- what used to be considered “normal and predictable.”
- our freedoms to go to the gym, to the store, to restaurant or bar, and countless other places.
- our routines, which may be personal, professional or social
- someone who is hospitalized, quarantined, or has already passed away from COVID-19.
- our employment or source of income.
- our sense of stability, safety and security, physical or financial.
- March Madness, or any sport for that matter.
The list is long, you get the point, we are grieving as individuals and as a society.
Experts say grieving is an emotional process we must “go through,” we just don’t “get over it.” The phases often include Denial, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance and most recently, Meaning. During each of those phases, we experience different emotions, and all are part of the natural healing process. While experiencing any of these phases is normal and necessary, “getting stuck” in any one phase is not. It is “OK” to feel angry, depressed, or fearful about something. The goal is to keep moving forward. Be aware, do something positive, help others, keep moving.
- Be patient & compassionate with yourself and others.
- Discuss your emotions with those you love, help them know what you need during this time.
- This healing process is something we must go “through” and is better together.
- Do something this week for someone who is in a worse place than yourself, you will both feel better!
Have you spent time contemplating your emotions? Have you discussed your feelings with people you love and/or care about? Maybe today is the day to give it a try.
Each of us can do something, and each of us should try. Be your best self this coming week!
Be safe, be well, wash your hands and keep your distance.
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”-Leo Buscaglia
- “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”– Dale Carnegie
- “Unleash in the right time and place before you explode at the wrong time and place.” –Oli Anderson
- “Experience is not what happens to you–it’s how you interpret what happens to you.”– Aldous Huxley
- “Our feelings are not there to be cast out or conquered. They’re there to be engaged and expressed with imagination and intelligence.”– T.K. Coleman
- “It isn’t stress that makes us fall–it’s how we respond to stressful events.”
– Wayde Goodall
- “Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.” – Vincent van Gogh
- “You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie