What I want you to consider today is what your most frequent negative emotions are? This may sound a depressing task for a Friday afternoon but bear with me. My reason for asking is that so many of us, due to the busy nature of our lives, are stuck in what I term ‘reactivity’. We don’t know why we have emotions; we just have them and then react, fuelled by these, without consideration of our self or others. This is not a particularly helpful approach, rarely is a reaction an optimal response to a situation.
By taking a step back and considering our frequent emotions we can start to create perspective, removing our self from that place of immediate responses, and considering what is most helpful for us. It also gives us an opportunity to identify triggers for our emotions or personality characteristics that get us into strife. The whole point of this is to identify the controllables; if we understand our emotions we can take steps to manage them. Remember that your emotions are your responsibility, you aren’t at their mercy, you just need to put a bit of thought into it.
When I considered this exercise for myself I realised that my most common negative emotion was frustration. This then allowed me to ask the question why. A bit of introspection revealed that this is due to the fact that I am something of a control freak and the fact that I feel passionate about my subjects and feel people that really need the information are being deprived of it. From this stage I can then develop a plan. When it comes to control I need to swallow the same pills that I’m dishing out through this blog, draw up a table, work out what is within my control and what is outside this, then execute on the controllables and not sweat the others, there’s nothing I can do about these. I also reminded myself of my resilience and reassured myself that regardless of what situations occur I’ll be able to make the best of them. For the second element I can see that this is just one of my strengths, enthusiasm, in overdrive. I’m excited about what I do and want everyone to know this information now. Taking this step back and getting perspective helps me see that the controllables for me are the quality of my products and how hard I work. If I can drive both of these things that will appease my frustration as well as having the happy side effect of developing me as a person.
Hopefully you can see the utility of this exercise for yourself. By taking the step back you can create strategies to manage these emotions. That isn’t to say you’ll never experience them again, just that you’ll know what to do when you do experience them and can shape the experience to make the best of it. Emotional control is a vital skill for anyone with lofty ambition so start developing it for yourself now. Your emotions are your responsibility; don’t let your interactions be dominated by them.