Have you ever felt stuck? Or in a rage? Or depressed? Or powerless? Or empty? Probably everyone has at some point. How did you feel about yourself then? If you are like me, you were judging yourself harshly.
Most of us do everything we can to deny, reject, resist, and push away negative feelings. Can you even imagine admitting one of those states at work?
They happen, don’t they? At work there are often problems or projects you don’t know how to move forward with effectively, so you feel stuck. Policies and hierarchies often make us feel powerless. There is nearly always someone in the work world who makes you feel small, or angry, or self-righteous.
Well, you may not have to admit these emotions to anyone else, but it’s critical to admit them to yourself. It’s a part of your truth.
Your personal power comes from facing your truth and not judging it – not craving the positive or resisting the negative. In fact, this is a definition of mindfulness. The more you practice, the easier it will be to sit with what’s true. Good, bad, or indifferent.
Sometimes, it’s not easy. Admitting that negative state and just sticking with it without judging it as bad is essential. Until you consciously feel what you are feeling, things won’t shift. Even then it doesn’t always happen immediately.
A couple of weeks ago, I was working with my wonderful coach Karen Wilhelm Buckley. I was STUCK. Feeling frustrated, incompetent, helpless, resigned. We focused on that feeling of being deep in the mud, in a rut so deep I could not see out, let alone get out. Karen helped me brainstorm ways out of that rut. Yet even after coming up with a dozen innovative ways to do it that made us both laugh, in that hour I could not climb out.
I was “Below the Line” in the terms that Jim Dethmer of Conscious Leadership Group uses. As Jim points out, it’s OK to be below the line, as long as you know you are operating from there and admit it.
If you can admit those feelings, you have the POWER to see the larger picture. And perhaps to analyze the source of those feelings. Maybe you can even begin to find empathy for those that had seemed like your enemies in the situation – including yourself. Maybe you can be more human and kind. Quite possibly you can also learn something.
However, it’s only in the mindful, non-judging awareness of what is true for you that all of this power is unleashed. If you push negative feelings away or pretend you are happy or at least neutral… Beware.
When I’m repressing negative emotions, my subconscious may have me do things that are hurtful to others and to myself. I find myself giving up my power to those emotions I’ve stuffed, and to the situation I’m not enjoying. I don’t ask for help when I need it. I find myself judging others rather than truly striving to understand why others are doing what they are doing.
In short, you won’t bring a cool and open mind to the problems you most want to solve, because you’ll be simmering.
Having negative feelings is a core part of being human. Remember, you are NOT your feelings. You’re not bad, or depressed, or angry, or stuck – you simply have those feelings coursing through you at that moment. The feelings will pass, and you’ll continue to be a good person doing your best.
So feel those negative feelings. Maybe wallow with them and explore them. Learn what the situation – and your feelings about it – can teach you. Reclaim your power.
P.S. I have to laugh, as I’m writing this just before another Presidential Debate. Now that will raise some negative emotions for many people!