Our careers present us with an incredible opportunity to experience many aspects of ourselves. The stresses, opportunity and challenges of our workplaces allow us to experience our resilience, our generosity, and our tenacity.
Our careers also present us with a mirror into the less comfortable parts of ourselves. The pressure to deliver outcomes combined with the constraints and hindrances that come with any job, can create powerful negative feelings. Envy, shame, fear, anger, distaste, dislike of others, a deep sense of unfairness–who among us hasn’t had to deal with these feelings in some situation or another?
How we deal with these feelings at work has the potential to move our careers in different directions. It’s the “X” in the calculation that, if not factored for, can disrupt the final outcome. And as you gain more experience and develop new relationships, this “X” factor only becomes more powerful.
Over the years, I’ve learned of different “feeling hacks” that help me transmute negative emotions while at work. These are not the same thing as therapy, or coaching–they’re literally feeling-hacks.
- Affirm the opposite of what you’re feeling is true. This hack is a very powerful one, and what’s important about it is that it works. It’s not the same as smooshing your feelings or ignoring your emotional intel, it’s actually using your feeling as a pivot-point for your day. You begin by recognizing the feeling. Maybe it’s, “I can never get all of this done in time.” To which you can say, “There’s always enough time to get what needs to be done, done, and it’s going to not only be awesome, it’s going to be fun for everyone involved.” Maybe it’s, “I hate these people. I hate this office. I hate this job!” To which you can say, “I have an awesome job, working with and for people I love, making an impact and earning good money for what I do.” It sounds insane, but affirming the opposite actually tricks your mind into seeing a bigger, more spacious, better picture.
- Give compliments–sincere ones–several times a day. Nothing transforms stress like giving a little love. At work, we have the opportunity to notice other people around us and witness their impact, their ability to change, to rise to the occasion, to care beyond the basics of their jobs. Complimenting can sound like, “This is incredible. I’m learning something from working with you.” “I can see how much work went into this, and how much you really cared about making this amazing.” “Our clients are gonna love this!” Compliments of all sorts allow for a little love to enter into the picture, and it is impossible to stay as stressed-out or negative in these moments.
- Understand that anger is actually a form of desire for something new. Get to the heart of what that desire is, and fight to make it real. Anger never feels good, but it can and will come up as part of work. Often to avoid it, we wall off the factors that cause it. But anger persists when managed in this way. The way to transmute anger at work is to understand it as the inverse of desire. If you’re angry because you weren’t chosen for a team, it’s because you desire….what? It could be anything–from the opportunity to work on that specific project, to the feeling of being counted, invited and included, to wanting to work with a specific person more closely. Any of these desires are legitimate, and they’re all very different. Investigating your anger begins with understanding what would make the feeling evaporate completely. This is tough, but important work. In fact, investigating the desire in your anger, and then going for that desire, can supply you with some of the biggest career adventures you can possibly have.
- When all else fails, listen to Gospel. There is simply no way that you can sustain negative feelings while listening to Kurt Carr.
The important thing to keep in mind is that no matter how stressful or terrible, how frightening or unfair the situation we’re in actually is, how we choose to think about it in the present moment will directly impact what comes from that moment.