The Importance of Embracing and Using Your Feelings
Your Feelings Matter – to You and to Others
While it shouldn’t have taken me hitting rock bottom to find the reset button for my life, it did. And it was one of the most crushing experiences of my entire life. There came a point where I realized my decades of business expertise couldn’t crawl me out of this emotional turmoil I was experiencing. It was at that moment I knew I had no choice but to make a change in how I viewed my personal health and feelings.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way for you. In fact, I like meeting new people on the journey who didn’t crash like I did before they realized that their emotions have value and purpose. Once you understand that you should feel things and that those feelings should point the way to a brighter future, then you’re one step closer to becoming your authentic self. And once you can come to a deeper and better understanding of yourself – inside AND out – then you can become the truly effective and meaningful leader you’ve always wanted to be.
It’s Time to Let Your Emotions Be Your Guide
In my many years of leading companies and teaching leaders, I was encouraged to keep my feelings to myself. They were deemed immaterial to success, and, more often than not, seen as a hindrance. Emotions were reserved for peers, friends, and family – only outside of work – and never for employees. Ever. Anything less, I ran the risk of exposing my true identity. And that meant weakening my position as a leader.
I’m here to tell you that such a perspective is toxic: to yourself, to your career, to your emotional health, and to all the people who interact with on a regular basis.
When I think back on what it was like to suppress my emotions as a business leader, I remember a frustrated man driven by superficial desires. Yes, I was determined to achieve that year’s objectives for my business and my career, but that superficially driven determination cost me my emotional health. I found myself not knowing how to express my feelings in any other way than quarterly goals and end-of-year projections.
I’m a big believer in being your true self in all you do. I also understand how shifting to this new approach of allowing your emotions to lead your life can be unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and overwhelming. It’s especially true after you’ve taught yourself to hide what you feel for much of your career.
In this essay, I provide a few crucial tips on developing healthy emotional vulnerability, and I’ll do so by sharing my story and experiences. It’s important to practice what you preach!
Your Feelings Give You Focus
In their book, Ask and It Is Given, Esther and Jerry Hicks discuss the importance of focusing on your feelings, specifically how you feel every day. On one hand, it seems very obvious: if you feel fulfilled, you’re cruising. But when you’re anxious and unhappy, you feel out of sorts. It’s essential you get to the root of those feelings so you can find the direction for your life.
If you’re out of sync and fighting for control, there will be considerable turbulence, but when you consciously choose how to direct your thoughts, you’ll find yourself flowing in the emotional jet stream of the universe. Some people call it their Higher Power, some people call it God. Whatever you call it, by acknowledging and living in your feelings, you will connect with the greater world around you.
Closely observing your emotions and feelings is essential to achieving your goals for your life and your career. I typically refer to this concept as my “Emotional Guidance System,” and it goes several steps beyond mere positive thinking. It’s about finding your bliss and pursuing the best possible version of yourself at all times.
Developing Your Own Emotional Guidance System
Emotional awareness isn’t easy the first time you attempt it. Paying attention to how you’re feeling and how those feelings can impact the direction of your life takes considerable time and effort. But every time people ask me for help in this stretch of their journey, I encourage them to ask themselves this single question right before they do or say anything:
“What should I do or say now so this brings me closer to bliss?”
You cannot and will not find your bliss until your feelings and emotions are focused on fulfillment and action. The Hickses explained this concept (which they call “vibrational frequency”) with a useful metaphor:
In the same way that your radio tuner must be set to match the frequency of the broadcasting station you desire to hear, your vibrational frequency must match the frequency of your desire.
In other words, how you feel and what you feel are crucial indicators of your emotional health. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you will get it. How you’ve tuned the “radio” of your soul determines how you’ll proceed and what you’ll receive. This is your Emotional Guidance System in action.
Tuning Your Emotions
Getting the right tuning for your emotional radio takes work, perseverance, and effort. It’s not something you can fall into magically. It’s a spiritual practice that requires a curious combination of intelligence and maturity, including the emotional, psychological, and physical varieties. So, it makes sense that the uninitiated won’t have access to their emotions and feelings when they first start this journey.
When I first began my path, I followed these four deceptively simple steps:
1. Pause once or twice a day
2. Name all the emotions and feelings I felt in that specific moment
3. Take note of which feelings are present during specific moments throughout the day
4. Once a week, ask questions like “What am I noticing?” and “What am I learning about myself?” and chronicle the results
When I first attempted this exercise, I could identify 21 different emotions I felt - all at the same time. It was intensely overwhelming, but also supremely revelatory! If all of these powerful feelings and emotions were swirling around inside me, imagine what I could do once I learned to make sense of them. Even better, just think of what could happen once I trained myself to use them to my advantage!
Are you ready to learn how accepting and living into your emotions can make you a better leader? Contact me today!