In this article I want to share with you this deceptively simple but incredibly powerful emotional mastery secret. It’s the gateway to gaining mastery over overwhelming emotion, especially when you’re in a situation of high work stress. Firstly, let’s take a moment to define emotion.
Emotion = energy in motion. Emotion is an energy you produce that extends beyond the bounds of your physical body. It has the capacity to influence others’ states of mind in either positive or negative ways.
During states of high work stress, emotions are unbalanced and chaotic. Conversely, during states of contentment, emotions are coherent and balanced.
Emotion has its own logic, which is fundamentally different from intellectual logic. In our culture, we often describe intense emotion as “irrational.” This label denies emotion’s true, underlying coherence. Emotional logic, being the greater of the two, can encompass intellectual logic. However, intellectual logic cannot encompass emotional logic, thus:
Our downfall is when we attempt to understand our emotions using our intellect, which is a common mistake. We berate ourselves for having emotions we believe we “shouldn’t” have – emotions that prevent us from “being in control.”
Yet the reality is, emotions motivate ALL behaviour. Emotions convey important information we need to hear – in fact:
Emotion is the language of your soul
When we learn to listen to this source of wisdom, without judging, we discover important information about who we really are at our core. Hence we develop emotional mastery.
THIS is the emotional mastery secret your psychiatrist doesn’t want you to know:
When you allow yourself to be curious, without judging your experience, when you let go into it, ALL emotion arises and passes away (even if it feels like it’s infinite)
Before explaining why that is, let’s take an example – I’ll use my own story of workplace bullying to illustrate what I mean.
In the first job I got straight out of uni, I was bullied by a senior clinician, who had dogged me over many years in another setting I’d worked in.
This woman was mean, spiteful and cruel to me and I could never quite figure out what her problem was. She gossiped about me behind my back, tried to get me fired by enlisting the collusion of the higher-ups, rolled her eyes when I dared to speak in meetings and once even slammed a door in my face.
My reaction was one of fury: “How dare she try that on ME!” Then I reacted with intense anxiety, driving into work each day, not knowing when the next attack would be. At the same time, I was “trying” to be professional, to do my job, see things “rationally” and “not let it get to me.” Sound familiar?
Then one day, I cracked. I was leaving the prison, walking towards my car in the car park. Suddenly, my body was wrecked with sobbing so powerful, all I could do was stop and surrender to it as I doubled over in emotional pain. As I let go and watched myself sob, I noticed how emotion convulsed my whole body. Deep, deep grief. In that moment, I was both experiencing overwhelming emotion and observing it at the same time.
By being curious about this tsunami of grief that came out of nowhere, I let go of my attachment that “life should be a certain way.” I also let go of the idea that: “I shouldn’t be feeling like this.” There was a small space between who I really was and my experience in the present moment. That small space allowed me to observe and detach:
I am NOT my experience
The insight that arose in the moments that followed blew me away. Suddenly, I found myself as a small child again, bearing the brunt of one of my mother’s cruel, narcissistic rages. Then it became clear – THAT’S why I was reacting so strongly against this woman – because at some deep, visceral level – she reminded me of my mother! THAT experience was one of emotional mastery!
The strange thing about life is that when you really get the learning you need from a situation, it allows you to move on, never to repeat the same experience. Shortly after this event, I was fired from my job in a “last in, first out” basis as a new government came into power and changed the structures of the organisation. Although I was pretty cut up about it at the time, in hindsight I can feel incredibly grateful that I actually dodged a bullet.
Find out more about my story here: The 7 Dangerous Mistakes To Avoid In Hostile Workplaces
Another advantage of developing curiosity rather than judgment about our emotions is more insight into our triggers. Your stressful situation in the present will trigger old beliefs, painful memories and wounds from childhood. Without curiosity driving emotional growth, we stay stuck, unable to connect to the insights we need to evolve.
Was there a bully in your past (perhaps a parent) who hurt you so badly you weren’t able to deal with it then? Are you carrying that wound into your present experience? Do beliefs about who you are – e.g., “I’m worthless, unloveable, incompetent, etc..” Keep you tolerating unbearable situations in your daily life?
Alternatively, do you have a strong belief (as many people do) in the “Just World Hypothesis?” This hypothesis says: “good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people” Do you believe you’re having this difficult time because you’re “bad, wrong or defective” in some way?
If so, there’s a subconscious part of you stuck in the past and this stressful situation at work is a helpful nudge advising you that you need to update your psychic records.
To Sum Up…
If you’re keen to develop emotional mastery, a great place to start is to download my free e-book, “The Silence of Mindfulness: A Simple Guide To Inner Peace And Emotional Wellbeing.”
In it, I give you step-by-step instructions on the attitudes you need to develop to grow your personal curiosity. This curiosity will help you release negative emotion faster, more effectively and safely.
You’ll also get access to my email coaching series. It gives you the extra support and resources to help you implement this new learning.
As an Empath Entrepreneur, I’m especially interested in helping professional women who want to take their amazing skills into a new online business with the aim of building a location independent income. I’ve had over 10 years’ experience in creating a compelling online presence. In fact, if you Google: “Dr Sophie Henshaw,” you’ll get over 201,000 hits with all the posts, articles and media appearances I’ve made over the years. I’ve appeared on Channel 10, 6PR, Fremantle Herald and WA Today. I’ve had articles published in PsychCentral, Women’s Agenda, NineMSN Health, Rebelle Society and Huffington Post. I’m currently a Thought Catalog contributor. P.S. I also practice as a clinical psychologist in my "offline" life!
Discover the 3 essential steps you need to get your first clients online
Download to get my email coaching series as well as immediate access to your free guide.
FREE Fast Guide To Empath Entrepreneur Startup