“I lock away the pain, put aside the fears, show you only smiles, not the hidden tears.” – Unknown
Are we led by our thoughts or by our feelings? Often we hear people look down upon those who express emotion in the workplace. Specifically negative emotions such as fear, hurt and betrayal. Why is that? Is it a result of a culture that has continued to perpetuate over centuries that emotions are weak; that only logic is strength and shall prevail?
When a comment is made about someone being emotional, or referred to as an ‘emotional person’ although it may just be an observation, it is typically not perceived as a compliment. So we spend our careers toughening ourselves up, building up walls, and building what some refer to as a ‘teflon barrier’.
I have to admit, I have coached others in the past to let things go, and take caution in sharing too much of their emotions in the workplace, specifically those perceived as negative. So I have to ask myself; have I become a soldier of stereotypes instead of a champion for change?
After much deliberation between me, myself and I… the realization occurred to me that in our attempt to teach others to manage through their emotions in a healthy way, we instead may be teaching them to hide and shut off their emotions.
What do you think a person will do, if you tell them they shouldn’t let a situation frustrate them? Or that they should not allow a circumstance to make them cry or feel sad? Unless you provide them with the tools to learn healthy release of these emotions, they may just shove them down or push them aside. Or as today’s subculture of the popular Vampire Diaries TV series refers to it; shut off their humanity. And what happens when the cup runneth’ over and the emotion is allowed to creep back up? It will explode with a force so strong, that without the proper tools they will not be equipped to tame the wild emotional beast that has been sequestered in the deep dungeons of their heart.
A little dramatic? Sure. But you do have to admit it resonates.
The reality is; in an attempt to deal with the taboos of feelings in the workplace, some people will turn to unhealthy ways to keep that emotional beast down. Anxiety, depression and unhappiness begins to take shape. Most of the time people will attribute this to stress and the hectic lives they live. Suppressing the beast with alcohol, food, drugs and other not so healthy vices.
Yet…. it doesn’t have to turn into a beast that must be kept out of sight.
I like to think of it as a ‘pitbull’ pup. If raised with care, compassion and training, it will be controlled, loving and obedient. Or it can become unruly and out of control if ignored, mistreated and used in fight.
So next time, we see tears and strong emotions in the workplace, lets show compassion and kindness. Let’s begin a revolution that says that feelings are not bad. After all, we are emotional beings which IS a part of the human experience. We can find healthy ways to manage our emotions and respect them simulatoeulsy.
Ask yourself as you reflect on the following three bullet points; do you have a healthy oversight on your emotions or have you imprisoned them in an effort to contain them?
- Do you reflect and talk it out sincerely? Do you acknowledge that feelings are a natural and healthy response to life situations? Or do you shove powerful emotions out of sight, quick to forget, deflect and deny?
- Do you take the time to release physical tension that builds up through highly emotional situations? Do you take walks, exercise, hike or do yoga regularly? Or do you bury your emotions in unhealthy vices?
- Do you let love in? Pause and appreciate the beauty around you? Hug your loved ones often? Say thanks for all you have instead of dwelling of what you don’t have? Surround yourself with people who are your rocks? Or do you shut yourself off wanting to be alone to simmer in your emotions?
Don’t deny your feelings and emotions.
Acknowledge and find healthy ways to express them in the appropriate way…at the appropriate time.
Most importantly, let’s show the value emotions have in our society today by respecting them and honoring them. By doing that we will help others, including ourselves to build our self-esteem and learn healthy ways to process that which we feel. Isn’t there already enough judgment in the world today? Is life not complicated enough already? The last thing any of us needs is to have the additional pressure of having to come off as if nothing bothers us.
So next time someone hurts you or makes you feel frustrated at work due to their actions, I dare you to tell them. After all, we hear about how important it is to be authentic in the progressive workplace. Be real, be sincere, be respectful ….and be an advocate for change.