Moodiness is something we all feel, as beautiful human beings (of all genders) our emotions swing and change based on many evolving factors in our day. How much of what we share with others at work about our feelings is based on mutual trust, respect and our own (met or unmet) expectations in the moment. Most of us manage to hide our disappointment and fears at work, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t wrecking havoc within us, tipping our emotional landscape from neutral equilibrium into more negative energy-sucking territory.
We don’t control what we are feeling, the best thing we can do is find gentle ways to make ourselves aware of what emotions are present within us at a given time. This is not easy to do, it takes a degree of discipline and self-compassion (not to mention courage) to peek inside and really acknowledge the complete range of emotions that are making themselves at home in your psyche. There will always be a mix from positive to negative, with one or two taking “center stage” in different moments of your day; gratitude because someone brought you your favourite coffee, hurt because someone ignored your contributions in a meeting, overwhelm when given a new project, joy when it’s time to go home. Not all your emotions get equal billing in this production because these emotions either boost your energy, or drain it, physically and psychologically. We’ve all had that day when we were ready to call it at lunchtime and go back to bed. To support you in your work (and prevent those types of days) here are some simple steps you can use everyday to help keep your vitality, and your mood, on track.
Just like a frozen touch screen on an out-of-sorts smart phone, your human operating system needs to “shut down” for a few minutes and re-boot when it is out-of-sorts. Find a quiet spot and give yourself 10 minutes to re-set. Breathe deeply, be compassionate with yourself, you are a good person (even if you want to rip somebody’s head off, or cry, or slam something) – you’re just in a bad mood (which is a temporary state, not a lifestyle). Start with self-compassion; sit comfortably, breath deeply (because we don’t do that when we are wound up). Give your body the rich oxygen it needs to support you. Then, when you can feel your body relaxing, name the emotion you have been experiencing. It’s Ok to say it out loud in your mind (or in the room if you are alone), just because you are saying it doesn’t mean it will follow you, or define you, for the rest of the day (or your life). Now, look at that emotion without judgement; underneath that emotion is a deep sense of caring for something that deeply matters to you – what is it (this may take a moment – give yourself some time here)? Acknowledge it. From within this place of caring see if you can express your emotions skilfully (just to yourself – give it a try you have nothing to lose except your bad mood). Lastly, consider what it is you need to be able to attend to what you most care about with loving kindness. In doing this exercise, giving yourself the time you need to re-set, you honour your greatest strengths and empower yourself to act from a place of compassion and renewed objectivity. From this place you can effect change (if that is what is needed), and feel better about yourself and your work.
Why is doing this so important to our wellbeing? Some emotions are energy sources (gratitude, happiness, joy, etc.) and others are energy-suckers (anger, disappointment, hurt, etc.). We tend to dismiss the energy-giving emotions, and dwell within the energy-sucking ones because we want rid of them…and fast (ironically this prolongs how long the negative emotions stay with us, and how deeply they impact our energy levels). Using the steps above to help you re-set is a great way to shorten how long you experience a negative emotion (and the drain it has on you). Another way is to keep yourself balanced, acknowledging and celebrating the good and positive things in your day so they can better support you through the inevitable disruption that comes. We humans tend to forget the celebrate part, we may not stop during our work day to be grateful for what we have, or let others know what we appreciate most about them, or let the compliments we receive sink into our hearts and minds (we tend to bush them off as people “just being nice”) . We need to allow these positive happenings in our life to be felt and cherished so our energy bank gets deposits, not just withdrawals, at work.
Being grumpy isn’t a choice, but staying grumpy and allowing it to impact your whole day (and your life away from work) is. Sit with your emotions for a bit and let them show you what’s really going on…then both you and your emotions can move forward together supporting what you most care about.
“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.” ~ Maureen Killoran