You’re probably scared of your emotions right now. They seem out of control, undependable. You know they have the capacity to hijack your brain. Keeping control of your brain seems like a good idea right now. You may be tempted to ignore or submerge your feelings in the hope that they take care of themselves.
But your emotions can be your friends as you do your most important job, as you manage yourself. That’s because your feelings reveal the story you’re really telling yourself. Your emotions show you the narrative that is actually driving your behavior in ways you may not even be aware of.
If you’re feeling scared, you may be telling yourself that the world is falling apart and you are much more vulnerable than you had imagined.
If you’re feeling sad, you may be telling yourself that your whole plan for the future has just gone up in smoke, that there is now no happy ending.
If you’re feeling embarrassed, you may be telling yourself that losing your job – or having to lay off many of your colleagues – is not something that a super successful person like you does.
If you’re feeling angry, you may be telling yourself that the people you counted on at work are turning out to be less loyal or less principled than you had expected.
These stories we tell ourselves are extremely powerful. They’re the software that runs our lives in the background. Any bugs in that software will show up in how we think, feel, act, and relate to others.
So don’t avoid your feelings. Use them as clues about the stories you’re telling yourself. Ask them to reveal your OS in all of its buggy glory. When you do that, you’re one step closer to disarming the brain hijack. You’re one step closer to managing yourself.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Awareness is the beginning of any productive action.