Emotions, like colourful threads, weave their way through the fabric of our lives, shaping our experiences and influencing our interactions. We may not like all the colors - we may want to pick and choose the ones we like and let go of the ones we dislike. However, the tapestry needs all the colours and when it comes to emotions we don't have much of a choice in terms of which ones we want to keep and which ones we don’t. It is more about learning to feel, navigate and regulate the whole spectrum of emotions!
Does identifying, understanding, feeling, and regulating our feelings hold so much importance?
The answer is ‘Yes’, they do but nobody really taught us how to manage them. Well, this newsletter might just come to your rescue.
Emotions are omnipresent and they have a unique way of showing up at the workplace, whether it's a surge of joy after a successful project or a wave of anxiety before a big presentation.
Imagine two colleagues Jay and May. You always witness Jay with furrowed brows and tense shoulders, indicating their frustration. They mostly keep to themselves only to explode in team meetings and have strained relationships with their colleagues. They avoid review and appraisal calls. And they get extremely nervous just before presentations.
May is completely opposite. They also keep to themselves mostly but talk out any conflicts that arise at the workplace. They have a cordial relationship with everyone and seem to manage his stress well.
Both of them have the same amount of workload, the same position, their work environment is similar and they even have the same reporting manager. But what makes May so different from Jay?
May is self-aware and can regulate their emotions well, effectively channeling them. Even in high-pressure situations, May remains composed and maintains a calm demeanor.
The ability to manage his emotions creates a completely different office experience for May when compared to Jay.
They are better at conflict resolution
They are good at maintaining a work-life balance which helps them avoid burn-out
They adapt to the changing environment and show resilience in challenging situations
They can build and foster meaningful relationships and have a cohesive team
They are able to incorporate constructive criticism
While appreciating May on their skills, we must also acknowledge that it would not have been easy for them, too. It does take some effort to successfully navigate your emotions.
Let us look at some ways that can help you through this:
Practice mindfulness & take breaks: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. For example, during a hectic workday, take a few moments to step away from your desk, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to reset and refocus.
Establish boundaries: Set clear boundaries between work and personal life to avoid emotional overwhelm. For instance, try designating specific times for checking work emails or refraining from work-related discussions during non-work hours to create a healthy work-life balance.
Create an emotional regulation safety kit - Emotions often show up as uncomfortable sensations in our body and it is important that we soothe our body when we experience discomfort like this. Create a safety kit with things you can use to comfort yourself. Things it can include - your favorite perfume, a stress ball, chewing gum, a fidget spinner, a photograph of a pleasant memory, your favorite poem or words of affirmation from a loved one.
Seek support: Build a support network within the workplace. During challenging times, reach out to a trusted coworker or mentor to discuss your emotions or challenges you're facing at work, and ask for their perspective or advice.
Practise effective communication: Develop strong communication skills to express your emotions and needs effectively by being assertive and remind yourself that assertion doesn’t mean being rude or selfish but is the simple ability to be able to put yourself first when you need to!
While this may sound like it’s easier said than done, it is important to acknowledge that a workplace might not always have an ideal environment for emotional expression and regulation. However, it is always possible to take baby steps in that direction to figure out what works for you.