So I talked about the changes ICU is experiencing and there are a ton of associated feelings with such a change. Again, this week I’m experiencing a great deal of empathy for clients who are changing their image and want to share something that really helped me when I was first learning to manage emotions around change and not break down and enter bone-chilling anxiety. A coach I’m working with mentioned something I love. He called this the “Six Year Old Test”, i.e. if it’s too complicated for a six-year old to understand, it’s too complicated. I like to apply the six-year old test to emotional management as well and here is what I learned. There are really only four emotions: mad, sad, scared or happy. Everything else is a function of one of those four things. Are you frustrated? You’re mad. Are you depressed? You’re sad. Are you anxious? You’re afraid. Are you content? You’re happy. I love this because it makes it easy to identify a feeling and then take action. You might also be hungry or tired, which affect your emotions, but that’s a separate posting.
“How do I feel about that?”
1. Fearful – While a little fear is a good thing to keep you on track, too much can interfere with sleep, relationships, your health and general functioning in life. Many of you have probably seen the acronym “FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. Bone shaking fears are not based in reality, but based on a projection of a worst case scenario. The worst thing that could happen isn’t likely to happen, because you’re taking action to change your situation. Figure out where your fear is centered. Is it around money? Is it around change? You can change from being fearful into being excited by making a list of the ways you are moving forward. For example, if you’re looking for work and feeling fearful, you could write something like “I am preparing my resume for my job search.” When you wake up at 3am in a cold sweat, you can review your list, reassure yourself and hopefully get back to sleep.
2. Angry – Anger can be productive if it moves you forward, but detrimental if it gets focused on the wrong thing or wrong person. Instead of letting it rule you, punch some pillows, shred some newspapers, put your face in a basin of water and scream your head off (no one will hear you). Express those feelings so you can focus on the task of changing your life. If you find yourself getting angry at the wrong time or at the wrong person, count to ten, take a deep breath or walk away and come back later to discuss things calmly.
3. Sad – You might experience grief that things are changing, resulting in feelings of sadness, depression or fatigue. Watch sad movies, cry and sleep. Grieve your transition, especially if you were in the old situation for a long time. It’s important to finish up the old feelings as you move into the new. Sometimes we are rocked by a change even if we chose to challenge the status quo and the grief can be very real, so take your time.
4. Happy – As you envision your new life and take steps to achieve it, you will experience excitement. Celebrate your accomplishments, especially the little things. Each time you search out a new opportunity to grow take pride in the fact that you are moving forward. Finally you’ll leave the fear, anger and sadness behind and experience feeling happy with the shift. Keep in touch with friends and family and share your joy with them. You did it!
Have an awesome Tuesday.