There’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” emotions.
While that may seem a bit hard to digest at first blush, it’s something that proves itself to be true time and again. It isn't until you accept mistakes and failure as building blocks for success that you realize a blessing these negative emotions can be. Until you truly immerse yourself in the positive emotions of life, you cannot reap the rewards that come with adopting that mindset. It's truly about how productively you manage your negative and positive emotions. That's what emotionally intelligent people do well to live a rewarding life and career.
Earlier in my career, I was very much inspired by the incredible real-life story of the amazing, J.K. Rowling.
Before writing the first Harry Potter novel, J.K. Rowling lived with tremendous stress, often questioning herself. She almost let fear, disappointment, anguish and anger consume her. She endured terrible physical and emotional abuse from her ex-husband.
She viewed herself as a failure. Both personally and professionally, it was a bitter fall for a woman who had high expectations of herself. She knew she loved to write- and certainly had a talent for writing- but she was struggling with some internal demons.
How dire did her situation get? She was clinically-diagnosed with depression and even thought about taking the gravest action possible- committing suicide.
Yet incredibly, her drastic circumstances led her to write more and more. She grew out of the depths of depression and used these negative emotions to her advantage.
One of the greatest revelations we will find in our lives is the recognition that we can use positive and negative emotions to propel us toward a life fulfillment and success. Anger can be used to our advantage. So can awe, gratitude and pride, as well as sadness and guilt. Great success stories are built on frustration, anger, fear and pain, as well as wonder, faith and inspiration.
Similarly, hope and joy can catalyze us and lift us to new heights.
I’ll focus here on four common negative emotions that we can use and offer ways on how to recognize them through self-awareness and emotional intelligence:
The music of my youth reminds me that Zac de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine was right — “Anger is a gift.” It’s a very hard lesson to learn in life, but I’ve found it to be true. While anger can slice and wound us, it can also serve as a remarkable foundation that we can use to our advantage. The key here is to never actively want to live in an angry mindset.
Anger is more of an emotion that we are forced to react to, usually due to circumstances that occur to us. A prime example of this would be someone telling us we’re not good enough. Not getting the executive promotion we want. Having our startup idea rejected.
When these things happen, we can go in a lot of different ways. When we take on this anger, we can use it as powerful fuel to help motivate and inspire us. If we have clear direction in what we know we need to do next, anger can be the force that surges us forward. If you have an opportunistic mindset, anger can truly be a gift.
First things first, I ask you, what are you afraid of? Deep down — in your subconscious thoughts, what do you truly fear? The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve realized that fear is most definitely a mislabeled emotion.
This piece from Harvard Business Review, by Matt Brubaker and Foster Mobley, takes into account four great ways to combat fear. It’s an excellent step-by-step process to incorporate emotional intelligence and break down four parts of fear and how this cycle manifests itself in our lives:
“Step 1: Acknowledge the Fear
Step 2: Interrogate the fear to better understand it
Step 3: Choose a different course of action
Step 4: Act on that choice — in a way that aligns with your values”
Attributes like acknowledging, confronting and choosing action and commitment are essential for dealing with fear. This brings out our self-awareness, empathy, self-care and the courage to combat fear. Absolutely essential for living life on our terms.
What leave you in awe? Think about that!
I think of the remarkable places I’ve been. The experiences of seeing my three children for the first time and continuing to live my dream of supporting my family through my entrepreneurial efforts. Think about the music, the romance with your partner, the events, family moments, achievements and more that have left you in awe.
Summon the magic of those moments and let them shower you with warmth, love, peace of mind and excitement. This visualization can empower, motivate and inspire you to work toward your goals each day. They can also bring life to your relationships.
I speak here about the good kind of pride — the one that give you a feeling of contentment, conviction and self-respect. Pride can re-assure us that we’re creating and doing things that are in alignment with what we value. Doing a kind act for someone else. I think of this always when I dedicate each day as a tribute to my family that I deeply love.
What are you proud about? Could be people, accomplishments, an activity or hobby of yours. Embrace this.
And embrace all of your emotions so that you can use them to your advantage.
Looking to be a more emotionally intelligent leader? Reach out to me here: http://chrisdconnors.com