Have you ever noticed that it’s at the times when it’s most critical for things to flow smoothly that emotional challenges often come up? The massive row with your partner as you’re gearing up for a really important presentation. The blistering feedback from your boss, minutes before the crucial sales call with a prospective client. Today I want to share a process you can use to deal with emotions at work, or any time when something deeply challenging flares up at a really inconvenient time.
This isn’t about ignoring your emotions, or suppressing them in an unhealthy way. One of the characteristics of Superwoman – the archetype of our time, who achieves everything in her life at 100% no matter what – is her refusal to let an ounce of emotion detract her from her goals. If you know you have a tendency to “push through” no matter what, remember: ignoring your emotions completely doesn’t tend to pay off in the long term.
This is about making the powerful decision to put what you’re feeling right now in a metaphorical “box”. That allows you to wait until a more appropriate time to work through what’s happened and do what needs to be done to resolve it. So that in the meantime, you can be your most powerful and effective self once more.
When should you use this process?
The process I’m about to share is one that I use when I know I don’t have the capacity to deal with an emotional or challenging situation there and then.
There are some things in life we’re never “ready” to deal with – news of a terrible diagnosis, or a relationship breakdown, or an accident. It doesn’t make you cold hearted or uncompassionate to choose to process those feelings when you’re able to truly give them the space you need.
Most of us have many competing priorities. It’s important that you and your partner work through your difficulties; it’s equally important that you’re effective and perform to the best of your capability for the team relying on you to move the business forward.
This process is a way of acknowledging that multitude of roles, and honouring your varying responsibilities fully.
Acknowledge what’s happened
Denial happens when we pretend the situation isn’t occurring, simply because we can’t deal with it. Ultimately that’s not helpful – in fact it only makes it more likely that we’ll suppress what we’re feeling, only for it to flare up unexpectedly.
Take a moment to acknowledge the bare facts of what’s happened.
My partner just told me I’m selfish.
My assistant has just resigned.
A client has asked for a refund.
2. Acknowledge your feelings.
This isn’t the same as what’s just happened! Your feelings are equally as valid, and very often they’re what are most uncomfortable and overwhelming.
This is the time to step into the Mother PowerType and “parent” yourself the way you would a small child. Tell yourself it’s OK to feel how you’re feeling.
You might want to journal it out, record a voice message to yourself on your phone, or just take a few minutes to breathe and name what your emotions are.
I’m really angry.
I’m so upset right now.
I’m in panic mode, I feel helpless.
I feel like a terrible person, I’m doubting my competence.
3. Decide when you’re going to deal with it
If you’re been blindsided by an emotional shock, you will need to make time to deal with it.
Superwoman will probably say you can handle whatever horrible news has come your way in 5 minutes, preferably while doing something else “useful” like cooking the dinner, driving home, or dealing with your accounts. Not true.
Depending on the magnitude of what’s just happened, you will need to make some time to really allow yourself the time you need to process it. You may need to cancel something less important than your emotional wellbeing. However much time you need, grab your diary now and decide when that will be.
When you’ve done the presentation.
When you get home and can have a face-to-face chat with your partner.
When you can go for a long walk in the woods at the weekend.
4. Put it to one side – and clear the energy
There are different ways you can do this. You might want to physically mime “putting the situation in a box” , or visualize a specific room or shelf where you’ll leave it.
If you find it challenging to put things aside then there’s an audio in the BeOne member’s resources I think you’ll find helpful. In it I go through this process in much more detail, including a specific practice that really helps me make sure my energy’s totally free of whatever emotions have come up. If you’re not already a member, you can click here to join the community and get access to this and lots of other helful resources.
Essentially, you need to feel that you’ve acknowledged and metaphorically “shelved” what you’re feeling, and then taken some steps to get yourself back to a place of balance.
That might be as simple as making yourself a cup of tea, having a quick stretch or a 5 minute walk, or even just taking ten deep, long breaths to connect you back to yourself.
The bigger the energetic shift you can make, the more effectively you’ll be able to transition back into that powerful state you were in before you were derailed. Is there a song that inspires you which you could listen to on headphones? Can you shake off the emotion, or find somewhere with an expansive view that will lift your spirits?
Replenish yourself in the way that feels good to you, knowing you can return to process these feelings at time when you’re more equipped to deal with them.
Most of the time, when an emotional curveball comes your way there’s very little you or anyone else can do about it. There’s no point getting into the “blame game” – reality is what it is – and the only thing you have control over is how you choose to handle it.
So it’s really important that we develop the skills of articulating when our emotions are at a peak, and recognize that it’s not always appropriate or possible to deal with energy upsets. Wasting your time worrying about how you’ll handle an unexpected crisis doesn’t help anyone, least of all you. But if you know you have a process you can use whenever you need to, you can feel confident that you’re able to honour all your responsibilities in the fairest and most effective way.
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