One of my clients is going through some big life changes. She’s stepping into and owning her power. But as women this isn’t always easy, especially if these changes are at the workplace. We’re programmed to not upset the apple cart and boy, she is really upsetting the apple cart, leaving a toxic work environment that isn’t serving her well anymore.
When we spoke last week she said to me
“I’m having deep anxiety about this. There is a lot of guilt and this sense that I’m abandoning those who rely on me”
We did a quick meditation and I asked:
“If we peel the layers of guilt and ask ‘what’s really going on underneath’ – what would come up?
She paused, relieved to have some space to reflect.
“I’m in pain. I’m grieving the end of something I created and nurtured. I’m feeling for my people.”, she said sobbing.
Now we were getting real.
I said to her:
“Beloved, stay with the grief. It is a normal and expected emotion to experience at this time. Lock yourself in the bathroom and cry each time you feel the pain. Stay with it. Honor it. But by layering it up with feelings of guilt and abandonment, you are taking away from the process. You are a passionate leader and one of the things that makes you so passionate is that you feel. You’re sensitive and empathic. This is a gift. But it needs to be honored and expressed, not buried under self-judgements and inner-criticsm.
Very often when going through challenging times, we get caught up in the overwhelm of the event itself.
The “shoulds” creep in.
“What is everyone else going to say?”
“Will anyone like me if I do this?”
Next thing we know, we’re in full-blown panic, totally disconnected from the wisdom and growth opportunity that such moments and the feelings that come with them, offer us.
In my coaching programs, we get crystal clear about the intelligence of our emotions and feelings. They are a power source if fully understood and embraced
Primary Vs Secondary Emotions
Secondary emotions are emotions we *think* we’re experiencing. What words do you usually find yourself using as you move through the day? Use those to identify your secondary emotion vocabulary.
Secondary emotions could include but aren’t limited to feelings of guilt, enthusiasm, pride, vulnerability, remorse, anxiety, contentment, disappointment, happiness, hope, jealousy, frustration, shame, confusion, lonely, trust, satisfaction, peace , resentment, confidence, optimism
Primary emotions are at the core of our existence, they are our guiding force and give us a very clear indication of our internal health. Primary emotions include fear, anger, joy, sadness (pain) and love.
Having this clarity can allow us to get to the root of the matter.
So when you find yourself in an emotionally charged or confusing situation, try this:
- Create some space. You need to regroup
- Take deep breaths, listen to your body. What does it need? A walk? water? meditation?
- When you’re ready, ask yourself, what’s really going on? What’s at the source of this?
- Identify your primary emotion (sometimes they can be two) and stay with it. By processing and being with this primary emotion, you’re creating space for new, creative solutions, invaluable wisdom and growth.
- You’ll naturally ease from this without “doing” anything. This can take a few hours or several days depending on the extent of emotional charge.
- Make extreme self-care a priority as you move through this experience
Something magical happens when we don’t deflect from or layer our real feelings with secondary ones: they go way. Emotions in their natural form are meant to move. It’s only when we dwell on or suppress them do they become toxic and unhealthy.
In the comments, share how you deal with emotionally charged situations? What would you add to the process suggested above?