Ever had a client do something that made you secretly furious – and you just couldn’t work with them again?
…Or had to speak in front of a crowd, or bring a treasured creation out into the spotlight, and felt sick with an irrational fear that you will be laughed back into a hidey hole?
…Or been invited to hang out with some really cool people who could help your business move to the next level, but been struck by an inexplicable feeling of smallness… Your inner critic goes off, you feel unsteady on your feet and your words come out all garbled?
It’s a pretty broad range of situations, I know. And you could probably think of a host more examples. But what each of these scenarios has in common is an emotion.
An emotion that gets in the way of good business.
The Emotional Bogeyman
It’s a sad thing, really.
As a (western) culture, our emotional intelligence is generally pretty stunted. We are doing way better than our Victorian ancestors, but most of us still have trouble accepting and navigating the world of emotion in an open and authentic way.
Rather, we are taught to do the opposite: ignore our emotions, suppress them with food or drugs or sheer will power, intellectualise them, dump them on someone else, or try to control and manipulate the person or situation that brought about that feeling in the first place.
You’d think an emotion was a real-life tidal wave, or a bogeyman, the way we run from them.
And if nothing else, all that running can get pretty tiring.
Emotions are like Nature
As an intelligent person aware of our precarious environmental position, you are either in the utilitarian camp of “plant more trees because then we get more carbon credits, and we can have better air quality, and that brings more tourism and increases the GDP.”
Or you are in the existential camp of “Trees have a right to exist, just like we do. (And so do all the other species that live in and around them.) It’d be better to stop destroying forests, than to plant more trees without care for the complex biodiversity they harbour.”
Emotions are like the natural world. They have a right to exist, independent of their seeming ‘usefulness’ to us. How we navigate our lives in relation to that right, is a choice we get to make.
For the natural world, it’s a complex, collective choice.
For the inner world of your emotions, it’s up to you.
A radical idea.
So the most radical – and the most natural – thing that you can do with feelings is… wait for it…
Like my friend who got invited to rub shoulders with the “stars” in her industry…
Although she is usually a confident person, this triggered a very icky feeling in the pit of her stomach. I guess you’d call it low self-esteem, even worthlessness. And she knew, that if she took up this opportunity, with these feelings playing out, she would very likely muck it up.
With support, she let herself feel the ickyness in her stomach. She didn’t judge the ickyness, she didn’t push it away. She figured it was probably some hangover from childhood and she just felt it, doing her best to surround it with loving acceptance.
And it melted.
And as she continued to stay present with her feelings, a new feeling started to arise… She started to feel her genuine admiration for these people, and a deep sense of gratitude as she realised that they must also admire her, to have invited her in the first place. And underneath all that, she felt strength and groundedness. She realised that she could come from a place of admiration and support and fun, rather than trying to impress. It was so much more relaxing!
When she went to the meeting, she was able to relax and be herself, and the “stars” got the benefit of her authentic, open, intelligent presence… unfettered by low self-worth. Of course, they loved her.
As mind-body healing expert Brandon Bays has said to me a hundred times – when you are fully present with an emotion, it only lasts an instant. (It is only when you resist it that it hangs around creating emotional and behavioural problems, and eventually physical disease.)
Oh, great, so if I feel them, will they go away?
Wellll…. It’s not quite like that. I mean it is. But it isn’t.
When you are authentically present with an emotion, it passes.
But if you try to use this as another strategy to “get rid of” your emotions… No, it won’t work.
So, what does this mean for your business?
When you are fully present with an emotion, it subsides and passes, revealing a more ‘true’ emotion, which can also subside and pass to reveal a more true emotion…
When there’s an unresolved issue or block lurking, you might need support to do this, because the emotions can actually get more uncomfortable and more intense, ie., Fear turns to panic turns to terror…
But if you continue to just be present with it, any emotion gives way to your natural healthy and wholesome state… So terror turns to silence, which turns to relief, which turns to love, confidence and ease.
…You get the picture.
And if it’s a simple thing, without a lot of hooks and history, then fear can turn to love (or peace or happiness or “blessed emptiness”)… Just like that.
Bottom line: When you accept your emotions as natural, honour their right to exist, and feel them with loving acceptance, you get to feel good, relax and be yourself… and everything benefits, including your business!
What do you think? Tell me your story…
Have you had emotions get in the way in your business? It’s not often talked about, but I reckon it’s a common enough experience….
And have you ever found emotions have led you into more clarity or confidence or peace in your business? How did it happen?
I’m looking forward to your comments.