What to Do with All Your Emotions

A short video about emotional reappraisal for managers.

This morning I spoke with a client about dealing with anxiety and setting boundaries while managing her team, which had just grown in size and was working longer hours.

Yes, business growth IS still happening in the midst of COVID-19! Yet, we’re also all dealing with more stress than ever, partly because of fears due to the virus and partly because - though we are very social animals - we have to be physically distant from anyone we don’t live with. That definitely creates its own stress.

The key to dealing with the stress and anxiety is:

Emotional reappraisal.

Science tells us suppressing emotions doesn't work. Ignoring them and behaving as though you are not feeling anything will backfire - either by becoming actually cut off from your emotions, or by having those emotions explode out of you at inappropriate times.

Yet giving emotions full control over our thinking and conversations can also be counterproductive. That's why venting sessions sometimes don't help us feel better - it's almost a way of ruminating on the negative, rather than letting it go.

It’s always important to feel whatever you feel. By acknowledging and naming the emotion, you let it be, and then let it pass away - emotions are, by their nature, fleeting.

Emotional reappraisal is the process in which we reframe our inner feelings.

Reappraisal can take many forms. Basically, it means finding a new way to look at the situation - a problem becomes a challenge, worry becomes finding safety, uncertainty becomes "let's figure it out together."

I advised my client to try emotional reappraisal for herself, and encouraged her to think about ways to use it with her team. As their leader, she does not need to have all the answer. She does need to be honest and thoughtful, to help her employees feel connected to her - even during this physically distant time.

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