James was gutted.
He’d just about managed to get an order from one of his hospital accounts after months of trying. At last, they ordered one of the single-use products in bulk.
It was a record order for a hospital of that sized. But one of the items had literally come unhinged during a procedure.
The nurses were blaming the product. Jason’s company was blaming him for the not providing enough training to the nursing staff. Yet, Jason had put the nurses through a rigorous training programme to ensure they’d place repeat orders.
His employers weren’t having it. Someone had to be blamed. It was never going to be the customer.
This pushed Jason to the point of wanting to resign. Ruminating on whether to stay or go didn’t help Jason’s already faltering marriage. Ultimately, both his marriage and his job ended.
We all have positive and negative experiences every day, but they’re rarely job or marriage-destroying experiences. Not every day.
As the negative experiences arise in particular, the ability to stay focused and open-minded falls drastically. These are the worst times to make decisions.
On the other hand, during elation and over-excitement, your decision can be distorted by the euphoria. Therefore, decision-making during those times can also be dangerous.
The optimal time to make decisions is when you are emotional neutral. This doesn’t mean your feelings do not affect your decisions. Quite the contrary. Without your feelings, you cannot make a decision.
Emotional neutral means that your mind is open, flexible and receptive enough to consider at logic, rational and the consequences of your decisions much more effectively.
Whether you’re high in unwanted feelings or feeling euphoric, those feelings are infectious. Have you ever noticed that when someone laughs randomly?
If they laugh for a minute or so, the people around them start laughing even when they don’t have an obvious reason to laugh. This catchiness also applies when someone is feeling deeply upset.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling negative. Negative feelings won’t harm you.
For example, if you’re angry because someone was once again fashionably late for an important meeting, then you have the right to be upset.
However, it’s what you do with your feelings that make all the difference to your current decisions and, consequently, your long-term outcomes.
There are 4 possible ways to handle feelings. Each option will give you a different set of consequences.
1. Suppressing your feelings
When an unwanted feeling such as anger arises, an individual often finds it easier to bottle it up and pretend the event never happened.
This does not change the biochemistry associated with anger. If the anger is not dealt with, over time, the person becomes increasingly resentful.
This bitterness percolates into the decision-making process in both business and personal life. Thus, life choices are made from a fear and survival basis. Quality of life drops.
Individuals who habitually suppress their feelings experience weakening of their immune function. Therefore, they are more prone to bacterial and viral infection and numerous diseases.
2. Expressing your feelings
As a leader, you will face circumstances when a supplier or a member of your team will let you down so badly that you’ll lose your cool. What do you do?
If you see red and vent your anger on the individual, you will probably feel guilty later on. You’ve expressed anger, but how do you express guilt?
Thus, your feelings of remorse get suppressed.
When an individual can’t handle their emotional dilemma or won’t face it, they find a way to ‘get away’ from it. There are degrees of escapism.
Have you ever found yourself suddenly interested in ironing or tidying up when you’ve got a lot of pressure on from work or from other people?
Daily escapism tactics include excessive social media activity, binge-watching TV, reading lots of magazines or even excess sleeping.
In ancient Roman times, the coliseum was specifically designed to distract citizens from the stress of hunger, poverty and crime. Our equivalent of today include the great sporting events such as football, the Superbowl, wrestling or TV talent shows such as the ‘X-Factor’. More serious forms of escapism are of drug abuse, alcoholism, porn and gambling.
There is nothing wrong with a little escapism in moderation. At least, the legal and ethical types. In the end, it is what it is. An escape from your current reality. When escapism is used to ignore unwanted feelings, then it becomes another form of suppression.
4. Letting go of your feelings
The fourth way to deal with unwanted feelings is to let go of them. What does letting go mean?
There is an emotional charge with every encounter you’ll have with a person, place or predicament. The greater the emotional charge, the more memorable is that event.
When an en event is charged with an unwanted feeling, say anger, that unresolved feeling will rear its ugly head in your future decisions. For example, if you were laughed at during your first school play, you’re very likely to feel anxiety or apprehension about speaking in public.
Most young children are told not to talk to strangers by their parents and teachers. That’s great advice for a 3-year old. The child would have built up a scary story around talking to adults that reinforces the message.
As adults, not talking to strangers is probably one of the worst strategies if you’re looking to build a career or a profitable business. In extreme cases, an individual may suffer from anxiety attacks if they find themselves networking at en event.
Building a business or a career involves talking to strangers. Otherwise you stagnate or go bust.
So, how do you deal with negative (and over-elated) emotions?
There are several routes to letting go:
- Be the observer of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations on a moment-by-moment basis. Acknowledging your experience as they happen.
- The techniques vary from a walking meditation to the traditional sitting down and paying attention to your breath.
- Releasing energy in motion (e-motion). There are a number of effective techniques including ‘EFT’ (Emotional Freedom Technique), the Sedona method, the Release Technique and THT* (Total Heart Transformation).
Each of the methods has varying degrees of success. In my own opinion, there is no one ‘catch-all’ way of letting go.
Mindfulness and traditional meditation are very popular, but aren’t very useful in sudden emotional surges in challenging environments, such as the boardroom. This is when the Release Technique or THT are most useful.
In conclusion, given the choice on how to deal with unwanted feelings, the only real healthy option is to let go. Rather than assume one method is better than other methods, the wiser course of action would be to try each method out and decide which one works best for you.
Once upon a time, letting go using the above methods was thought to belong to La La Land. Today, most of the successful leaders and entrepreneurs use one or more of these techniques to stay centred and to achieve optimal performance. Your best decisions are made from this state.