LEADERS CULTIVATE THEIR ABILITY TO LIVE WITH ALL THEIR EMOTIONS
When we are children, we learn from our parents to focus on emotions like happiness, enthusiasm, joy, and other positive emotions. We are taught to stay away from uncomfortable or negative emotions.
However, as thought leader and coach Susan David explained in a recent webinar, “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” If we ignore our uncomfortable emotions, we are ignoring reality.
As leaders, if we cultivate self- compassion, we gain greater acceptance of uncomfortable emotions. Instead of submerging those emotions deep beneath the surface, we can choose to face them with curiosity and openness.
So many leaders bury their negative emotions because they are afraid to face them. I used to be this way during the first part of my leadership journey. Because I grew up in a house with significant verbal conflict and modeled my behavior after my mother the peacemaker, I tried to bury emotions like anger, frustration, and disappointment. Often, instead of facing those emotions, I would brood on them and ruminate.
As leaders, we can learn to unhook ourselves, stepping out of our difficult emotions and not being captured by them. We can do this by being more specific in naming our emotions instead of using broad brush strokes. Susan David calls this “emotional granularity.”
When we start sentences with words like I “I am…,” our language keeps us stuck. Instead, we can say “I am noticing,” “I am feeling, “or “I am curious about…” Such language allows us to step outside our strong emotions.
If we can use our emotions as data, they can help us move from “have-to“ goals to “want-to” goals. We can recognize all our key values and incorporate those values into our daily lives as leaders.
This happens when we express the courage to face our challenging emotions. As Susan David stated, “courage is not the absence of fear, courage is fear walking. “
As you continue on your own leadership journey, ask yourself how you traditionally address and deal with your uncomfortable emotions.
Do you allow them to keep you stuck or do you examine them and allow them to help you grow?