Why do we rely on our logic alone to decide our best course of action? We are told that emotions are not ‘appropriate’ in the workplace, and our left-brain, linear, dualistic thinking is the best problem- solving approach to success. If that is so, then where does passion come in? Trust? Knowing that others have your back? These come from the feeling side of our humanness - our right-brain that generates images, impressions, sensations and emotions. Most of us have been highly trained to use our analytical left-brain in our transactions and interactions, and rarely tap into the more chaotic untamed right-brain. We learned this from our parents, teachers and in our mostly patriarchal western society. Unless we were supported to express our emotions and/or creative talents as part of our success, we tend to see the world through a logical, linear, dualistic, conceptual perspective. We try hard to be ‘objective’ when moving through the world. Yet, our ‘subjective’ reality provides information that is just as valuable as the conceptual/logical left brain. When we only listen to our logical left-brain, we miss ½ of the information coming in for us, limiting our ability to achieve what we truly desire.
Our emotions are designed as a messaging system. They are energies that are moving through us to give us their message and then move on. When we don’t allow them to fully surface and speak to us, we push the energy back down and the message stays stuck within us instead of moving up and out to be recognized and released on a conscious level. Most of our negative emotions (anger, hurt, sadness, fear) are aimed at helping us understand that we are not getting something we want, or we are getting something we don’t want. Many of us have turned away from this natural messaging system as a way of fitting in, looking good, or coping with our fast-paced, left-brain societal norms. Perhaps you learned that you can’t get what you want or say no to what you don’t want so why feel those emotions? What good would it do?
The good that it does, is to fully inform you about a situation to make the best decisions for success. For example, a leader that is making dramatic organizational changes may feel fear when considering how her colleagues and staff will respond. It’s not that she is responsible for their response - if they like it or not - however, she is responsible for the effectiveness of the new changes and implementing them with minimal disruption. If she doesn’t allow herself to feel that fear, and instead ignores it or turns away from it, her decision will tend to include little focus or effort in getting buy-in from others along the way. If she let herself feel those feelings, it would alert her to the fact that those around her may also be feeling fear from the uncertainty of change. She would make the effort to create an opportunity for others to be heard, and to share information as decisions unfold.
When we don’t acknowledge how we are feeing and include it in our decision-making process, we create undue stress on ourselves and others. When we say yes to an action, when our feelings are telling us no, it’s like splitting our energy into two opposing directions – each pulling away from each other. It may show up as the smile on our face when we are really feeling resentment inside that we are unwilling to acknowledge to ourselves or the other person. And it’s exhausting. On the other hand, when we deny our feelings to others, even when we are feeling them, we create confusion and mistrust. Others can feel when our words and feelings are out of sync with each other and they will often pull back from engaging with us.
When we acknowledge the feelings that are moving through us, we can step back and sort out what the message is telling us and how we can use it to make the best decisions. My job is to get back into alignment with myself about how I feel and what I want. This means that I am recognizing and honoring how I feel in deciding how to best move forward. That is my job – and everyone else’s job for themselves. If I find myself in a situation that isn’t working for me, I can let the other person know that I’ve changed my mind given what else is going on and how I’m feeling. I can change my priorities or timeline to consider and integrate this critical information. When I am in integrity this way, I communicate more clearly (nothing to hide), and I feel more trustworthy to others.
What feelings will you allow to inform your actions today?