Admit it: You have stressed-out, nutso, I-can’t-believe-I’m-this-upset moments. (If you never feel the crazy, then you might as well move on to the next adorable cat video; I've got nothing to offer you.)
With all of the nuttiness in this year’s election cycle, the intense socio-economic challenges that we face both locally and globally, and our omnipresent pressure to do more with less (all while staying healthy, happy and helpful to others), sometimes we find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of an unplanned hissy-fit. By the way, guys can have hissy-fits too; they just come out as grunts, groans and manic rubbing of the temples.
How can we consciously manage our emotional state just as we do the other facets of our professional and personal lives? I can’t pretend to know what your exact recipe for permanent residency in ChillTown is for you, but I can share some of the most effective mindful practices I have used over the last decade or so to be less of a raging hose-beast and more of a thoughtful, balanced, and calm person (mostly).
When you find yourself slipping into a major funk that threatens to derail your entire day, here are a few proven strategies that may help you quickly move out of the darkness and back into balance.
As soon as you notice that you have allowed your emotions to take control, ask yourself the following questions:
What am I feeling in this moment? The typical culprits are anger, frustration, fear, dread, doubt, resentment, or any other nasty hairball of emotion you don’t really want to admit to. You can’t change your mood if you don’t even know what you are feeling. Identify it. Notice its birthplace. Recognize how it feels in your body. Get some context as to why you went down the rabbit hole so you can change it.
Do I want to continue feeling this emotion and does it serve me? Until you can honestly answer NO to both of those questions, you need to chase after why you would allow yourself to self-victimize, thus likely destroying your day and the day of those around you.
Who can I forgive in this moment? Most times our forays into the Dark Side have a person’s name on it – the high-maintenance client who is demanding yet another iteration, the co-worker who messed up the presentation that you now have to re-do, the spouse who said they would make dinner but somehow “forgot”. Someone or something is to blame for it. (If it weren’t for all of these $%^& people, we could be happy!) Now is when you have to ask yourself the big-kid question: can I let go of my negative emotion and forgive this person for causing me pain? If not, why not?
What specific actions can I take RIGHT NOW that will shift my emotional energy upward to a lighter, happier tone? Consider the following Five Ms of Mindfully Managing your Emotions that may contain the perfect solution for your particular funk:
Meal. Is the fact that you are psycho-hungry causing you to turn into a bubbling mass of negativity? Maybe you need to pack some snacks proactively to make sure you don’t let a grumbling stomach morph you into a grumbling grumpypants. A ziploc bag of almonds and dried fruit may be the difference between you having a quiet meltdown in a meeting and you actively engaging in it.
Music. Do you need just a little blast of levity and joy that only your favorite tune can elicit? Don’t underestimate the restorative power of the power ballad. It helps balance out the bits and bytes swirling around you every second.
Movement. It’s amazing what a little stretch, sweat and shimmy will do for one’s outlook. Find ways to move, move, and move a little more! You don’t have to exercise another day in your life, but you absolutely have permission to play. Do something. Anything. Really.
Meditation. If you are having a “Calgon, Take Me Away!” moment, then take a mental vacation. Sit for a few minutes in silence and just breathe. Notice how it feels to relax your shoulders, soften your face, unclench your jaw, and melt the stress from your body. Let every thought just move in and out of your mind like clouds. After just a few minutes, you’ll feel like you got an insta-blast of vacation juju.
Moment of Gratitude. When all else fails, this magic prescriptive is guaranteed to up-level your outlook. Do a gratitude rant, the rat-a-tat-tat version that bathes yourself in gratitude for everything that is awesome in your life. If possible, say them out loud. “I am so happy and grateful that…(I have a functioning body, there’s a roof over my head, I have people who love me, I’m able to support myself and my family, etc.) The more voracious your gratitude rant is, the quicker your sad-sack attitude will dissipate. You can’t be grateful and crabby at the same time.
All of these strategies are simple to articulate but not easy to implement. They require awareness, acceptance of what-is, and a willingness to let go of an emotional state that may somehow be serving us in ways we don’t really want to fess up to. However, by intentionally focusing on emotion management each and every day, we start creating lives that have far more fun and less worry, more sales and less stress, and more connections and less contradictions.
Are you ready to be one of the few who can authentically own their emotions? Imagine what your work and personal life would look like if you could nip a snit-fit in the bud! What else could you accomplish? How would you show up differently with your family, your friends, your co-workers, your teams and your customers? How much more amazing could it be?
Theresa Rose is a business motivational speaker, award-winning author and high-value consultant who helps organizations and their teams create meaningful connections and mindful cultures. For more information, visit TheresaRose.com.