Do you ride your emotions?

Or are you at their mercy?

It was the start of a meeting with a potential new client. We sat discussing what was going on with his team and why some of the key people were avoiding communicating with each other. Let’s call him John, he said something along the lines of ‘well, we’ve brought you in Kay because it’s probably all about the touchy, feely stuff and I don’t do that’.

‘You don’t do that?’ I said, risking, I suppose, being shown the door, ‘You don’t do that? Everyone does that John, everyone does that all the time, it’s what it’s all about.’ I thought to myself his words gave me a huge clue as to why there was such a disconnect in this team.

When someone explained to me once how emotion can be defined as ‘energy-in-motion’ it took on new meaning, one that really makes sense and, to all those ‘oh, I avoid the touchy-feely stuff’ out there, think about emotion like this – it’s ‘energy-in-motion’. Your energy, at any given moment, can change to another energy and you behave differently. Something else happens and, depending how you decide to react to it – notice I said ‘how you decide’ – then your emotional state changes again.

As you go through your day, start noticing your own emotions and, crucially too, others’ (they’re on display, you just have to notice them). As you become more and more aware that emotion is driving everything, and everyone, you’ll be able to understand so much more about other people and so much more about yourself.

Here’s a typical scenario that plays out every day, everywhere for someone, somewhere with the emotion in brackets.

Rushing to a meeting to avoid being late (excitement, fear) you arrive just as the meeting’s starting (anxiety, embarrassment). As you grab a coffee and your seat (relief, anticipation) you’re asked a question (surprise and fear again). Someone else chimes in to help you (relief and surprise) and you also gather your thoughts and add your opinion (relief and anticipation). The meeting carries on and you notice yourself relaxing (contentment and trust) and you’re asked to be involved in a new project (surprise and joy). You know it’ll be hard work with a lot riding on it and you say ‘yes, great’ (anticipation, fear, joy) and you all agree to meet again in two weeks to update everyone (anticipation, trust, anxiety). Off you go to your desk and pick up the phon e to tell your partner about this opportunity (excitement and surprise mixed with anxiety).

Can you ‘feel’ just from reading the above, how much energy-in-motion is going on for you, just in that meeting?

We are constantly shifting and changing gear with our emotions and the more we understand about how they affect us, and those around us, the more we can start to take notice of where we are in our emotional journey.

We’re all in an emotional state, all of the time. The trick is to notice which emotional state we’re in – relaxed, excited, angry, frustrated, sad, happy – and to know that we are moving in and out of these states all the time. We must then decide and find which state is the most helpful, appropriate and resourceful for us to be in, given what’s going on around us. We do have a choice though and when we accept that we can no longer say “Oh, he makes me so angry”. He doesn’t. You decide to be. Byron Katie, one of my spiritual mentors said, in context with minor irritations and day to day conflict “No one has the power to upset me. I do that.” Enough. Said.

Extracted from ‘E is for Emotion’ from The A to Z of Being Understood by Kay White.


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