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Ordinary People Taking Action
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It’s easy to see why our lives might be emotionally strained. Every day we wake up to more news about this COVID-19 virus; news that might be based in facts and news that could be fueled to trigger fear and uncertainty. We spend our days surrounded by a situation that I don’t believe any of us choose to be in and we spend our days interacting with people who might not share our views, believes, values and behaviors. We are surrounded by people with various knowledge and it’s hard to understand fact from assumptions and opinions.
While the world is swarming because of the COVID-19, we still have our other life stressors and triggers at play; and for some, these stressors are even more intense. If you were struggling financially before COVID-19, you might now be worried about finances even more. If you were having difficulties with your manager at work, there might be even a larger strain on your relationship. If you weren’t full engaged, this might be an excuse to disengage even more. And, we can’t forget the people who were in a good space prior to this outbreak – who may or may not be continuing to feel good about things.
We are all here for the long-haul. Whatever comes or doesn’t come from the COVID-19 situation most of us will have our lives greatly impacted because of either getting sick, knowing someone who gets sick or the short-term and long-term impact of the stress that caused changes to our work and home environments. To say the long-term implications is unknown, well that is maybe the one statement that I believe, truly believe to be true out of everything I have heard about this virus.
It’s no wonder the emotional stakes in the world are so high.
Emotions are the most powerful force – they are in every human interaction.
Stick with me for a moment, will you forget everything that is going on with COVID-19 – whether you feel good or not so good about this outbreak – just put it aside for a moment.
Imagine you are in your most favorite place, doing your most favorite thing, feeling like the best version of yourself. You are calm, grounded and feeling positive and happy. Now, you receive three emails marked as urgent from a work. I am going to assume that the impact of these emails doesn’t through you into a tailspin. You might be annoyed and concerned, yet I am going to assume you can handle the “crisis”. The reason is when our emotions are slanted positively, we have a stronger ability to react to small irritation more positively or even let it go as “no big deal”.
Now image you’re tired, you’ve been up late working on a huge project (or handling a personal situation), on staying up late, you woke up late, didn’t have time for breakfast and you ran out of your house so quickly that you forgot morning coffee on the counter. You’re without coffee and hungry now stuck in traffic, couldn’t find a parking place when you arrived at work and received three “urgent” emails. You’re exhausted and drained -and your day at the office hasn’t even started yet. I am going to assume that any small irritations that happen for the rest of the morning impacts you, maybe impacts you more than they really should. The reason is when our emotions are slanted to be less pleasant, small irritations impact us more negatively and we have a harder time just letting them go.
I’m sure you can relate to both scenarios. This is because we are all human and being human comes with a wide range of emotions that underline every single thing we do and every interaction with us and around us.
The challenge is on the surface we believe that all our interactions are about that surface thing. While we are at work, we assume that all interactions are about work. However, these work moments create feelings that are mixed with feelings of nonwork moments. It’s all these moments that generate a feeling from us.
Typically when life is good, when we are feeling pleasant and moving through happily, excited, joyful, etc. the impact of our emotional reactions are views as positive, so a virtuous cycle is created – almost unknowingly.
Take the unpleasant morning as if that was my morning, now we are together in a meeting where you give me an update that is meant to have a fairly neutral emotional reaction. However, it causes me to have an emotional reaction of anger. You wonder why I am so worked up about this neutral update and assume I am angry with you because of it. The truth is more-than-likely that my angry reaction has very little to do with you or the update itself, but it’s because of my unpleasant emotional response to my morning and all that happened before I interacted with you. Now, unfortunately, my unpleasant emotional response is shown as anger towards you. And, starts the circle of miscommunication and misunderstanding because my emotional reaction is out of context and unexplained yet causes a response from you. Justified or not, we are now potentially in a vicious cycle together.
As the world navigates a huge stressor that is impacting us all, COVID-19, please find time to pause and reflect on your impact. To do this, here are some steps to can consider:
While I know that many coaches have different approaches when working with their clients, one of the things that I focus on a lot is the emotional responses of my clients. I work with them to help them create awareness to the intentional and unintentional impact emotions have on our behaviors.
Our behaviors create impact.
Our impact leaves our legacy.
If you think about emotions driving your decisions which is the foundation of your legacy, shouldn’t we all spend more time thinking about our emotions?
I hope this post helps you as we all continue this journey of navigating life – personally and professionally – through this COVID-19 outbreak and beyond.