The Holiday Breakthrough: Dig Deeper
I can’t think of any other time during the year that provides so many challenging opportunities. At work, we are dealing with the end of the year: budget, planning, finishing, preparing…all at once. At home, we are preparing for travel or visitors, buying gifts, decorating, and concerning ourselves about people near and dear to us. Both situations are fraught with possibilities for connection, deepening, innovation…and a whole lot of conflict. How exciting!
No matter if the context and content is personal or professional we will experience very specific emotions and behaviors. There is an opportunity for breakthrough here. The question is, will we see it?
Nate Regier, in a recent post, described the six authentic emotions that we often experience or re-experience in high-stress situations. Nate is revealing a magical tool here for increased self-awareness and a key to progress in our everyday experiences. It starts with each of us being willing to lean into ourselves for a bit and feel some things we’d rather not.
The list of emotions includes: Fear, Loss, Anger, Responsibility, Bonding/Intimacy, and Autonomy.
When stress is high and the context is very familiar (like year-end, family reunions and holidays) the allure of the stories we tell ourselves and the habitual responses to cover-up and deflect our authentic emotion is super strong. This is certainly true for me. After years of reinforcement, habitual responses, and predictable exchanges, it is second nature to simply interact with co-workers, friends and families in a way that is easy. That keeps the same old story going. We, in effect, choose to be defined by our past versus leaning into our authentic emotion and choosing a new path.
Here are three suggestions for turning strong emotions into an opportunity:
- Identify which authentic emotion (or two) hits home for you. Keep the focus on yourself and your own experience versus other people.
- Notice your patterns and triggers related to that emotion.
- Write out some alternatives for the story. Work on naming the authentic emotion followed by what you want to be different for you.
I have used those steps in the following way:
- I understand that Responsibility and Anger are significant for me from that list. I determined this because of intentionally reflecting on how I relate to the description of each one and understanding my personality structure.
- As I reflected on these authentic emotions I noticed that, although the context and content may change, most conflicts I experience lead directly back to my uncomfortableness with one or both of those two authentic emotions. I start to see it as a story or pattern that I play out and may even tell myself. Two triggers for me are when I am asked to commit to do something and when I want help. Here is how it goes down for me at work:
- I agreed to complete a work task by a certain deadline. I chose to put it off. The deadline was fast approaching or even passed. I started and had some questions but didn’t ask. A coworker asked about the task. I was uncomfortable with feeling the weight of Responsibility so I deflect, maybe even blame others or the situation, and don’t ask for help. Later I get down on myself or feel extreme anger towards another person versus expressing or feeling healthy Anger.
- Now it is my goal to make a conscious decision to sit with hard emotions and feel them, own them without being them. When I feel uncomfortable I say it out loud as often as I can. Then I ask myself, “Why do I feel this way?” This is followed by “I want to feel good about this” or “I want to feel confident” or, the biggie, “Will you help me with…”. I tell myself a lot that I don’t have to go it alone. I also can ask for time and decide to say “No” with an explanation and be okay regardless of how others feel. When I nail it, the results are immediate. When I don’t, I get feedback and a chance to try again.
For you, which authentic emotions keep your story going? What if you could rewrite your story! The magical part of this work is that once you hit on the authentic emotion you can apply it in both professional and personal situations.
If you need a boost in getting started, try this Personal Guide to Uncovering Authentic Emotion to help you uncover what is authentic for you and prepare for a Holiday Breakthrough!