Why do we do what we do?
Because it feels good? Nope. Because it feels best. It’s our best choice on our behavioral menu at the given time.
“I need your help, Christine,” said the Chief Revenue Officer. “Our sales and marketing people are overwhelmed by constantly changing legislation, the new markets we’re trying to penetrate are not opening up, we’re missing revenue projections, and the board is turning up the pressure. Everyone is discouraged and knows they need to shift their attitude but can’t seem to do it. Healthcare is a tough enough business without all this internal turmoil!”
Have you ever been in this situation? External and internal factors are pressuring you and there’s no sign of relief. You’ve got to get everyone on board pronto, but all your efforts haven’t worked. In the midst of it all, you’re doing your best to have a better attitude about the whole scenario. In this organization’s case, while the initial instinct was to throw more bodies, tools, or money at the problem, it was not what they needed. It wasn’t as simple as just telling themselves to feel better.
The real issue has nothing to do with what happened or what needs to be done. It’s what it means that matters. The meaning determines how it feels. If shifting their attitude doesn’t feel good, they won’t do it. They will stay stuck.
First, let’s return to the fact that human beings will always reach for the best feeling available on their menu. The sales and marketing teams I mentioned above didn’t lack power, they lacked choices on their menu. In other words, to feel more powerful, we don’t need to turn off our emotions or ignore them. We need to get present to what we’re feeling and then associate better feelings with the behavior we want. We need to add better feelings to our menu. It’s all about choice.
If something feels bad, we call it bad. If it feels good, we call it good.
Let’s learn to regulate your emotional state. How are you feeling right now?
Take a moment to check in using our Emotion Wheel.
Now, if you could regulate your emotional state, how would you like to feel? In some cases, you’ll just want to feel better than you feel now. If it’s a really uncomfortable feeling you might resist it, like if you’re in a difficult change scenario.
Resistance or rejection of the feeling isn’t going to help. What we resist, persists.
Here are the four steps to shifting your emotional state:
- Figure out what you’re feeling.
- Consent, be present to, the feeling, no matter how uncomfortable it is.
- Get curious about the uncomfortable feeling and what you are deciding about yourself or the world or situation. (Examples: “George did this, he is always making me feel worthless”, “I messed up this project, so I am a failure”). Step back and witness the stories you are telling yourself about what happened outside of you and the resulting way you’re making yourself feel.
- Now, ask what you would like instead. Look at the Emotion Wheel again if that would help. Maybe you want to shift from Sad to Powerful, or Overwhelmed to Peaceful. Ask yourself the following questions: What would I like? What will having that do for me? How will I know when I have it? What might I risk or lose to get it? When would I like it? What are my next steps to getting it? Start to notice that you now are feeling better.
Reality is what you say it is. It’s seriously that simple.
Curiosity is essential in crafting your reality. It will help you to become more self-aware and to regulate your emotional state. You can choose how you feel. That’s how powerful you are.
Christine Comaford is the best-selling author of Power Your Tribe: Create Resilient Teams in Turbulent Times and SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together, and a leadership and culture coach. She hosts Beyond The Brain, a Retreat In Mindfulness and Ancient Wisdom every October. Learn more at SmartTribes Institute.
Originally published at smarttribesinstitute.com