Transforming Stress into Understanding
Are you dealing with a stressful situation? Do you have a difficult relationship at work that you have been trying to determine how to handle? Or perhaps you are feeling a low level of anxiety about something, but can’t quite put your finger on it? Taking the time to put words to what you are feeling can be very useful in working through these types of instances where our emotions bubble to the surface.
As many of you know, I returned to my writing again recently after taking a pause to focus on other things. As I begin to make it a practice again, I am reminded of the emotional benefits of writing. Writing helps us to explore things in a different sphere. We can take the emotions we feel as data to help us get to the deeper level of a problem, writing about them as a way to develop potential solutions or simply process through things. I often advise my EQ Executive Coaching clients to keep an emotions journal where they can track the different emotions that come up for them during our work together.
How Can You Incorporate This?
Ask yourself more questions, and good ones at that. Questions like:
“What exactly am I feeling right now, at this moment?”
“Where is this coming from?”
“Have I felt this way before?”
When was the last time I experienced this?”
“Do I have this feeling often?”
One feeling may be springing from several different emotions, and those emotions may be rising up from something separate than the current situation that you haven’t yet identified … it may even be something from a subconscious place you are unaware of and you don’t even realize. If you haven’t correctly identified what is truly bothering you, you could find yourself reacting inappropriately.
For instance, let’s say that darn Margaret at work said something that just set you off, and you were instantly angry – how dare she?! If you took the time to look into it at a deeper level through some exploratory writing, you might find that, yes, you were angry … but it was anger that sprang from embarrassment. Judy made her comment in front of two other colleagues you had really been working to impress. And as you continued your writing, you might recall that time that a high school coach had called you out for your lack of performance on your sports team, right in front of your other teammates – what may be a motivator for some shuts down others. So you discover that it was the long-seeded embarrassment that contributed to your anger, as it was from a deeper wound and perhaps an ongoing trigger for you. That insight can definitely help you the next time you feel something similar.
As you start writing about these things, you may be surprised at what comes up for you. It is often easy for us to buy into our self-talk, which is really at the heart of much of our emotional distress. Whatever is happening, we are constantly assessing it and applying our own meaning to it. That voice inside our head stays very busy with its incessant chatter, quantifying and qualifying everything you see and encounter! As you start to write, you may even start judging yourself, thinking, “I’m awful – I shouldn’t be saying this!”
Instead, accept that you are experiencing whatever emotions and thoughts you are having, and trust that you have a handy paper shredder or trash bin button nearby if necessary once you have fully processed and are no longer in need of those nasty thoughts!
Learn From It
As you complete your exploration, identify whatever insights you may have had or lessons you learned that can be applied the next time. From there, don’t dwell on it! One of the biggest lessons we can learn in life is to LET GO. If it is not serving you, don’t keep it in your thoughts. Develop a strategy for how you want to handle the current or similar situations and move along, stronger and more knowledgeable going forward.
Valerie M. Sargent is a dynamic speaker, trainer, consultant and executive coach. A natural and engaging motivator, Valerie is a Level I and Level II TalentSmart Emotional Intelligence Certified Trainer and President of Yvette Poole & Associates. She helps individuals and organizations increase their EQ, managing emotions and relationships better on the job for maximum performance. Her signature message, “It’s in the Pause”® focuses on the need for Self-Management skills to preserve positive relationships in the workplace and beyond – follow her blog: https://itsinthepause.com/). For more information: http://ypooleandassoc.com/ or http://valeriemsargent.com/.