“Hey, buddy, tackle the day!” he says to the boys. “Sweetie, take care,” he says to the girls. Before work, I drop off my child at her elementary school. A lovely ritual that I enjoy greatly, with the exception of the PE teacher who greets the kids. It’s a gender bias that grates on my nerves, gets under my skin. I take a breath and roll my eyes, as the other PE teacher calls me “babe.” Somehow I manage to make it through my entire workday being referred to as Dr. Somanchi, but at the elementary school I’m “babe.” At least they are universally offensive, I think to myself.
Offended, threatened, fearful, resentful, jealous? It’s ALL good. Every emotion comes with valuable data. When we stop thinking of these emotions as bad, they become a treasure trove of information that can help us make exceptionally good decisions.
Of course, they are uncomfortable to experience. Hot, seething rage doesn’t exactly make for an awesome day. But if we take the time to stop and examine them, every emotion provides a gift to move into a more authentic, powerful version of ourselves.
Years ago, I met with a young woman who wanted to create a coaching practice. She was articulate, bright and lovely. I felt incredibly threatened and was very critical of myself for this feeling. I didn’t want to be the kind of person who felt threatened by a new generation. I wanted to be the kind of person who supports and brings people up. The feeling didn’t subside, so I squashed it down into the furthest corner of my being and opened myself up lavishly to her. Within months, I found out that she had tried to poach my clients and was using my copyrighted material.
Be Open to Curiosity
The key is that we have to become curious. Much of the time, we are judgmental of our emotions or simply unwilling to sit in the discomfort of them. If I had been curious about the threatening feeling, I would have had a different interpretation of it. My self-judgement prevented me from tapping into my intuition and making prudent decisions. Think of emotions as a warning signal. Ding, ding, ding … if you leave the lights on in your car, then the system graciously gives you a reminder to turn them off. It would be silly to be annoyed with the car because it has a method to prevent a dead battery. We just take the message and make the adjustment to right the situation. We don’t judge it. Being uncomfortable, upset or triggered isn’t negative. If you are seeing an injustice or finding yourself going down a path that’s not right for you, those feelings are an indication of good emotional health.
Sometimes the emotional data does reveal an unflattering or humbling truth. Sometimes it shows us that we are being petty, biased, or allowing old fears to make decisions. That is wonderful too. It gives us the chance to course correct and heal the wound creating it.
What Does Jealousy Really Mean?
Feeling hot jealousy? Jealousy simply means we are buying into the lie that we cannot receive what we need. You’ll get nothing but a big congratulations from me for recognizing that, because once that lie has been exposed, you can begin the work of shifting your mind to the truth that you can create good things, or perhaps you need to ask for good things. With examination, you can find out if the emotion is pressing you to find gratitude in what you have, ask for what you deserve, or begin the work of creating what you uniquely want and need.
A CEO I work with was in a hot, frustrated froth with his team. He wanted to see all the systems tightened up. The organization was getting sloppy. An examination of that feeling revealed that it seemed to arrive on a nearly biannual basis and was the juice that kept him fresh and engaged in the inner business workings. This assessment allowed it to be a force of growth for the business, and not a feverish lash-out.
Curiosity, not reactivity, is essential. What does this mean for me? What do I need to do with it? When we stay curious, we avoid leaping off into the land of tantrums, attacks, defensiveness and unprofessional behavior. If you leave your good senses, even if you are correct about the issue, we are left discussing your bad behavior instead of the problem.
Rocky Starts to a Happy Ending
My story from the PE department stalled in the mid-century has a happy ending, but it wasn’t smooth. Addressing the biased behaviors and language ruffled some feathers and was very uncomfortable, but with a calm, firm and caring response, it seems that the whole school is considering how they can use more inclusive language. And I hold a deep sense of gratitude that I could be a part of generating a bit more equality for children now and in years to come.
Every emotion is in service to you, if you allow it. Any emotion deserves respect. Happy, peaceful, joyful? Take special note. What is going on that is creating this? How can you create more of it? Spitting rage, deep grief, gangrene envy? Awesome! You are now informed of a misalignment that can be leveraged to move you higher. Your emotions hold the data that you need to be your best.