Have you ever felt out of control of your emotions? Unable to articulate how you’re feeling and what you want?
This feeling of powerlessness can be extremely crippling, both at work and at home. But it can be overcome through honing your ability to manage your own emotional state. I call this ‘emotional versatility’: the ability to access and channel the whole spectrum of emotions, including the less palatable ones, from empathy to anger, elation to envy, passion to indifference.
This is no mean feat, but incredibly empowering when accomplished. People are often embarrassed or frightened in the face of extreme emotion and I’m sure you’ve experienced times when your feelings have got the better of you, resulting in behaviour you later regret.
Watching a toddler explode with fury as a result of their inability to be understood is akin to having an upsurge of powerful feelings but not knowing what to do with them. Having access to your full range of emotions is linked to your emotional vocabulary. Pinpointing a feeling of contempt as opposed to generalized anger is the first step to moving beyond it.
Here’s an exercise to help you develop your emotional versatility:
- Over the course of a day, keep a diary of all the emotions you’re experiencing, which emotions make you feel powerful and which compromise your power.
- Notice when you’re experiencing negative emotions, take care to label them, and note down their impact.
- As this is happening, think about which emotions would be more positive and think about how you can change your own thought process to a more empowering one.
Do let me know how you get on.