Emotional Intelligence

What To Do When You're Fed Up

Ever feel like you just want to give up? 
Ever find yourself frustrated, walking away from situations and people with the same conclusion each time? 

  • Yup, I knew it- all guys are jerks!
  • This is what happens every time I (apply for a job/try something new/trust people).
  • Things never work out for me.

While those generalizations and takeaways keep us safe, they also keep us stuck. So if you’re ready to rewrite your ending, it’s time you stop blaming the cast, and start getting curious about your role.   

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
— Pema Chodron

Let me give you an example:

Years ago, I was in a relationship with the least-punctual man who ever existed. That may sound like a ridiculous claim. ("Amita, have you met every man in the world and timed each of them?") But arriving 2 hours late without sending me a text makes him a definite contender for this prestigious award. Each time he’d be late, I’d tell myself “He’s always late. Guys are the worst! This is the last time I’m dealing with this. He clearly doesn’t love me because if he did, he would get his sh!t together and change.” 

While his punctuality was indeed an issue, the story I was telling myself was the bigger problem. In my narrative, I made his time management struggles about me.

The stories we tell ourselves create safety and order out of situations that feel dangerous or chaotic. When in doubt, many of us (myself included) immediately jump to the “I’m not enough” explanation.

Why? Because there’s comfort in certainty.

The familiarity of my story made it easier to be angry at him rather than feeling the more difficult emotion: vulnerability. The good news is that you don’t have to keep playing old reruns in your head.

You have the power to change your story and choose a better ending.

The next time you’re in a situation when you’re feeling triggered – from a setback to a breakup – use these steps to overcome feelings of anger, shame, or disappointment:

1. Get Curious.

You don’t need to identify your emotions to know they exist. When you’re feeling triggered, (like you’re going from 0-60 in 6 seconds flat) it can be challenging to slow down long enough to label your feelings. Instead, start by tapping into your body by asking yourself:

  • Where do I feel this sensation?
  • What does it feel like?
    • I feel a knot in my stomach or I feel panic in my chest.

2. Engage With It.

Admittedly, this step sucks. You’ll need to tap into your feelings to uncover the narrative. By engaging with your emotions, you’ll get a clearer sense of the story that allows these emotions to stagnate and the situation to repeat itself. For example, If you’re feeling angry that your hard work wasn’t acknowledged, you might be telling yourself, "This team is ridiculous, my boss is a conceited jerk."

3. Collect The Data.

As much as journaling can feel like a chore, the mind-body connection that occurs is transformative. Quickly, without judgment, write out the answers to the following:

  • What story is playing in my head?
    • I never get any credit, I should just quit. Then they’ll see how much they need me.
  • What are my emotions?
    • I feel angry and annoyed.
  • What are my beliefs?
    • I won’t be successful.
  • What actions do I want to take?
    • I want to quit.

You have every right to feel the way you do. If your answers are driven by emotion and self-preservation, chances are there may be some missing facts or faulty logic. When we’re in a heightened emotional state, it can be hard to remember that feelings aren’t facts. By challenging your storyline, you'll begin to uncover what’s really going on.

4. Play Detective.

Grab your make-believe magnifying glass and pick apart your story by asking yourself:

  • What parts of what I wrote are fact and whats part are beliefs?
    • Fact: My name wasn’t mentioned in the meeting. But, when I gave my boss my part of the project, he was receptive to my ideas and seemed grateful.
    • Belief: I never get any credit. I won't be successful.
  • What additional information would be helpful to know?
    • What my boss thinks about my potential for growth at this company.
  • What was my role in this situation and how do I feel about t? 
    • I feel like I’m not good enough. I never ask for his opinion about my performance because I feel scared of what I might hear. I could try asking his opinion and seeing what happens. 

Most of us use anger and resentment to cover up our insecurities. Discovering the underlying stories that keep us stuck teaches us how we confirm our negative beliefs, rather than challenging them.  The truths we uncover are often uncomfortable. But, discomfort is where all the magic and growth happens.

The Takeaway:

Knowing how you keep yourself stuck will help you to stop repeating the same old story. It will give you the freedom to take action that’s truly aligned with where you want to go and who you want to be.

4 Skills To Cultivate Your Potential

It’s often said that a great deal of growth occurs after trauma:

  • The woman who is diagnosed with an illness and decides to create a life she loves
  • The man who survives an accident and develops a sense of his priorities
  • The brother who loses his sibling and cultivates stronger bonds with friends & family

Whatever it might be, trauma can often be a springboard to realize our purpose, fertilize our growth, and actualize our potential. This phenomenon is known as post-traumatic growth and commonly includes:

  • More focus on one’s goals & dreams
  • A renewed sense of meaning & purpose
  • A better understanding of oneself
  • A change in priorities and the ability to choose actions that align with them
  • Deeper connections & relationships

The good news is that you don’t have to wait for a traumatic life event to gain this level of clarity. You can unleash it at any time by developing 

The 4 Skills to Cultivate Your Potential:

1. Mental resilience.

Anything worth doing takes willpower. Tackle a challenge without giving up, even if it’s a small task.

Do it: Practice tolerating boredom by not picking up your cell phone for 5 minutes.

2. PHYSICAL RESILIENCE.

Many people are stagnant in life because they are physically stagnant. The answer: don’t sit still all day.  Physical movement actively improves your body & brain.

Do it: Vow to get up from your desk each hour of your workday.

3. Emotional resilience.

When feeling down, it’s easy to forget that you have the ability to invoke positive feelings on command. If you can actively tap into things that make you happy, you will dramatically improve your mood and ability to tackle challenges. Researchers often refer to the 3:1 Positive Emotion Ratio. For every negative thought, actively choose to have 3 positive thoughts to improve your overall health & happiness.

Do it: Look up a YouTube video of your favorite baby animal.

4. Social resilience.

There’s strength in numbers, so why not reach out? Instead of isolating, connect with your friends, family and community.

Do it: Express gratitude by sending someone a thank you note/email/text.

Bonus: Embrace the power of touch. Shaking someone’s hand for 6 seconds increases your level of Oxytocin (the feel good & bonding hormone)

The Takeaway:

You determine the rate of your growth. Don’t wait for a rock-bottom. Do it on your terms. 

What's helped you to grow? 
Share your story with the Community in the Comments Section below!

How to Feel Your Feelings (Without Feeling Nuts!)

I recently had a conversation with a client who’s spent a great deal of time running from her feelings. Not in a “let me drown them in booze/Ben & Jerry’s/boyfriends" kinda way.
She’s smart.
Too smart, in fact.
So smart, that she can outsmart herself.

“Amita, I just don’t have time to eat well. I’m too busy with my kids, career, being amazing.” (Yes, I edited in that last part, but it went something like that anyway)

After a long list of seemingly sensible excuses. I said:

“Wow! It sounds like you’re super busy. Maybe you’re just too busy to be human.”

Client: “Well, why would I want to be human when I can be better than a human? If I don’t do all those things and I just sat around and ‘felt things’ nothing would get done.”

Me: “If you think emotions are a poor use of your time. I have 2 things to tell you:
1) Your time management skills suck.
2) We need to teach you how to feel things gently.”

(I should note that I’m usually not this blunt with clients. But as Blogs require brevity, I’m paraphrasing.)

Many of us have developed intricate coping mechanisms. Ones that might not cause devastation, but keep us stagnant, nonetheless. Often the fear that we will collapse under the weight of an emotion keeps us “busy” with other things. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good distraction. I just checked my phone twice while writing this post. But let’s do a short-term/long-term cost-benefit analysis of not feeling emotions:

  • Short-term impact of not feeling emotions-Awesome! Don’t have to feel icky, sad, or scared.
  • Long-term impact of not feeling emotions- No Bueno. Results in self-sabotage, poor decisions, and anxiety.

The good news is that you don’t have to stay in bed for a week and cry. You can feel things gently.

Here’s How:

  1. Notice it. Bring your awareness off of your iPone and to yourself. Are you feeling discomfort? Don’t worry about the “why,” just notice it.
  2. Name it. So often we lump emotions into one big bag of crap. Take time to differentiate them. For example, before a big work meeting you might feel “bad.” Break that down into parts. Is it anxiety? Is it nervousness? Is it excitement?
  3. Accept it. It seems contradictory, but feeling an emotion actually helps to process it out of you. Notice it and allow it to pass through you, flowing like a river. You don’t need to “do” or “fix” anything, just feel it. Often, we jump straight to a distraction or solution to make the feeling stop. By avoiding the feeling, it gets backed up in us (emotional constipation.) 
  4. Be compassionate. Acknowledge the fact that it is completely normal to have ups and downs. Compassion isn’t the same as complacence. It’s a tool you can use to give yourself love. Whether that be through changing the words you use to describe yourself, staying present, or treating yourself like you’d treat a friend, there are many ways you can increase your self-compassion.
  5. Act on it. From a space of awareness, take action. It can be going for a walk, meditating, or calling a friend. Sometimes, action can be non-action. It can be not sending an angry text, having patience, or walking away.

Feeling our feelings isn’t something we’re taught in school. It makes sense that we suck at it.
We've emphasized learning skills that are “marketable,” and ignored the ones that make us happy.
Isn't it time we changed that?

My advice?
Be gentle. Be brave. Be compassionate.