In this weeks post we’re going to finish up the discussion from last week about how to manage your energy NOT your time. For the first part of the series about managing your physical and mental energy, click here.
The other two energies that control how we show up in the world are our emotional energy and our intrinsic energy. These two energies seem a bit nebulous, and out of our control, but that is not the case. While it may require more focus and practice to gain control of these energies, it is not something that is outside our domain. It’s YOUR energy, not the weather or the traffic.
You can work on these energies and master them so that your run your life instead of your circumstances running you.
Before I start let’s talk about WHY this matters. In many cultures we are taught to suppress our emotions. “Suck it up” and “get over it” are common mantras.
We aren’t supposed to feel anything while we’re at work, and even if we do, we are expected to hide it and deal with it later. That would be a miserable dream world to live in if it worked, but it doesn’t. Trying to work while dealing with negative emotions is pointless. You might be able to get some rote skills accomplished – like “I’m mad as hell but I’m doing my multiplication tables”, but you’re not going to be coming up with any fresh ideas.
You’re stuck in the wrong part of your brain to be brain storming or be creative. There’s more specifics below.
I’m not suggesting that you can or should control your emotions or reactions. Obviously you need to control it to some level, but suppressing your negative emotions isn’t healthy. What you CAN control is how you deal with those emotions.
For example, you’ve had a terrible morning. It’s raining, the dog chewed your new shoes, traffic was awful, you were late, your boss yelled at you. This sucks! But now what?
Do you take it out on your coworkers?
Do you dive into that box of donuts in the kitchen and eat your feelings?
Do you check out, get nothing done but play on the internet all day?
I’m here to tell you that these are some pretty typical responses to negative emotion. And while sometimes things get bad enough that you really do need to check out and just deal with your emotions – bad traffic and jerk bosses are too common to let them ruin your life and your productivity.
This is your future you’re carving, and half assing a presentation because you were struggling with your emotions isn’t going to help your chances of promotion.
But you’ve had a terrible day – NOW WHAT?
First let’s acknowledge that while you cannot control your emotions, you CAN control your actions. So when that bad day hits, instead of eating all the carbs or chain smoking – find other healthier, long term solutions to improving your mood.
Deep breathing exercises or meditation
You can take a meditation or yoga class to learn techniques or download an app such as headspace and follow a guided meditation
Deep breathing and meditation are known to calm down your nervous system and allow the higher parts of your brain to regain control.When you are stressed and angry you get into the deepest and oldest part of the brain where your fight or flight response is housed. You can’t think clearly in this state. You need to relax your nervous system so you can get access to the higher thinking of the neocortex.
Laser coaching session
If you are a client of mine you can also contact me for a laser session where we can get control of your brain back in a quick 10-15 minute session. If you already have a coach, you might already have an agreement for “emergency” coaching sessions. If you’re not sure, just ask.
Start a gratitude journal or write thank you notes
Finding something you’re grateful for in a moment of anger might seem nigh impossible. If you really can’t calm down and do it, consider creating a gratitude journal where you write three things you’re thankful for each day. Then keep that with you and look over it in times of need.
Change your viewpoint
This is a technique that I frequently use with clients. If you get mired down in all of the miserable things that have happened I will ask you questions that change the way you look at a situation.
Will this incident matter in a year? For that matter will you even remember it?
How can this experience help you grow?
How does this event appear from the other person’s perspective?
What do I mean by intrinsic energy?
Intrinsic energy is that thing inside you that motivates you to do something. People who are extrinsically motivated – motivated by outside sources – tend to give up easier and be less willing (Simon Sinek has a great section on this in his book Leaders Eat Last).
If the reason you’re trying to lose weight is because someone else said you should, that’s unlikely to keep you going in a moment of weakness. If instead you want to lose weight because you want to be healthy enough to play with your kids, that is more likely to keep you motivated.
Another way to say this is what’s your WHY? When you’re tired and want to quit, what will keep you going? Think deeply on this and come up with a short sentence or catch phrase to remind you. Post that sucker, everywhere – stick it to your computer monitor, to the fridge, to your bathroom mirror. Make it your screen saver and phone background. Keep it top of mind.
Once you find your why and see how that translates into your actions you need to figure out what parts excite you and what drains you. For a couple of ways on how to do that, see this post.
I know that you can’t avoid everything that is draining, but the more you can focus your energy on the things that excite you and outsource or delegate the things that drain you – the more energy, motivation and focus you will have to get the job done. If you have all those things, the work comes easy.
The last way to keep your intrinsic energy going is to find your values and live them. You can do this exercise to figure out what’s important to you, and then make sure you’re living those things every day. If you’re standing in the integrity of who you are and what you believe in, you will be able to deflect the things that drain you. Living a life against your values is about as soul sucking as it comes, but standing in your integrity and being authentically you will keep you going even through the toughest of times. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown is a wonderful book on this topic.
If you want help with the exercises in this article or if you just want to find out more about coaching, click here and fill out the form. I offer free discovery sessions to new clients so you can learn about coaching and see what it’s like. I’d love to talk with you.