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Self Development

How Successful People Stay Calm

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. Here’s how.

Travis Bradberry

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The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

There are startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as a study conducted by Yale, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion.

Related: 5 Surefire Ways to Manage Entrepreneur Stress

Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress.

As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.

Research from the University of California, Berkeley, reveals an upside to experiencing moderate levels of stress. But it also reinforces how important it is to keep stress under control. The study, led by post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby, found that the onset of stress entices the brain into growing new cells responsible for improved memory. However, this effect is only seen when stress is intermittent. As soon as the stress continues beyond a few moments into a prolonged state, it suppresses the brain’s ability to develop new cells.

“I think intermittent stressful events are probably what keeps the brain more alert, and you perform better when you are alert,” Kirby says. For animals, intermittent stress is the bulk of what they experience, in the form of physical threats in their immediate environment. Long ago, this was also the case for humans.

As the human brain evolved and increased in complexity, we’ve developed the ability to worry and perseverate on events, which creates frequent experiences of prolonged stress.

Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance. Fortunately, though, unless a lion is chasing you, the bulk of your stress is subjective and under your control. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances. This lowers their stress levels regardless of what’s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognising when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.

They Appreciate What They Have

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%.

Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.

They Avoid Asking “What If?”

“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend focusing on taking action that will calm you down and keep your stress under control. Calm people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want — or need — to go.

Related: Stress Management Strategies: The 4As

They Stay Positive

positive-business-man

Positive thoughts help make stress intermittent by focusing your brain’s attention onto something that is completely stress-free. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about.

Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well, and your mood is good, this is relatively easy.

When things are going poorly, and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, no matter how small.

If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the previous day or even the previous week. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to an exciting event that you can focus your attention on. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative.

They Disconnect

Given the importance of keeping stress intermittent, it’s easy to see how taking regular time off the grid can help keep your stress under control. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors.

Forcing yourself offline and even — gulp! — turning off your phone gives your body a break from a constant source of stress. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels.

Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you thinking (read: Stressing) about work can drop onto your phone at any moment. If detaching yourself from work-related communication on weekday evenings is too big a challenge, then how about the weekend? Choose blocks of time where you cut the cord and go offline.

You’ll be amazed at how refreshing these breaks are and how they reduce stress by putting a mental recharge into your weekly schedule. If you’re worried about the negative repercussions of taking this step, first try doing it at times when you’re unlikely to be contacted — maybe Sunday morning. As you grow more comfortable with it, and as your coworkers begin to accept the time you spend offline, gradually expand the amount of time you spend away from technology.

Related: Finding the Time and Energy to Manage your Stress

They Limit Their Caffeine Intake

coffee-beans

Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat.

The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favour of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email.

When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behaviour. The stress that caffeine creates is far from intermittent, as its long half-life ensures that it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body.

They Sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed.

Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough — or the right kind — of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Stressful projects often make you feel as if you have no time to sleep, but taking the time to get a decent night’s sleep is often the one thing keeping you from getting things under control.

They Squash Negative Self-Talk

A big step in managing stress involves stopping negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them.

Most of our negative thoughts are just that — thoughts, not facts. When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking.

Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity.

You can bet that your statements aren’t true any time you use words like “never,” “worst,” “ever,” etc.

If your statements still look like facts once they’re on paper, take them to a friend or colleague you trust and see if he or she agrees with you. Then the truth will surely come out. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event.

Identifying and labelling your thoughts as thoughts by separating them from the facts will help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.

They Reframe Their Perspective

changing-perspective

Stress and worry are fuelled by our own skewed perception of events. It’s easy to think that unrealistic deadlines, unforgiving bosses, and out-of-control traffic are the reasons we’re so stressed all the time.

You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. So before you spend too much time dwelling on something, take a minute to put the situation in perspective. If you aren’t sure when you need to do this, try looking for clues that your anxiety may not be proportional to the stressor. If you’re thinking in broad, sweeping statements such as “Everything is going wrong” or “Nothing will work out,” then you need to reframe the situation.

A great way to correct this unproductive thought pattern is to list the specific things that actually are going wrong or not working out. Most likely you will come up with just some things — not everything — and the scope of these stressors will look much more limited than it initially appeared.

They Breathe

The easiest way to make stress intermittent lies in something that you have to do everyday anyway: Breathing.

The practice of being in the moment with your breathing will begin to train your brain to focus solely on the task at hand and get the stress monkey off your back. When you’re feeling stressed, take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing.

Close the door, put away all other distractions, and just sit in a chair and breathe. The goal is to spend the entire time focused only on your breathing, which will prevent your mind from wandering.

Think about how it feels to breathe in and out.

This sounds simple, but it’s hard to do for more than a minute or two. It’s all right if you get sidetracked by another thought; this is sure to happen at the beginning, and you just need to bring your focus back to your breathing.

If staying focused on your breathing proves to be a real struggle, try counting each breath in and out until you get to 20, and then start again from 1. Don’t worry if you lose count; you can always just start over.

This task may seem too easy or even a little silly, but you’ll be surprised by how calm you feel afterward and how much easier it is to let go of distracting thoughts that otherwise seem to have lodged permanently inside your brain.

They Use Their Support System

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To be calm and productive, you need to recognise your weaknesses and ask for help when you need it. This means tapping into your support system when a situation is challenging enough for you to feel overwhelmed.

Related: Are you Practising Safe Stress?

Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it.

Something as simple as talking about your worries will provide an outlet for your anxiety and stress and supply you with a new perspective on the situation.

Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation. Asking for help will mitigate your stress and strengthen your relationships with those you rely upon.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Award-winning co-author of the best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart -- a consultancy that serves more than 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies and is a leading provider of emotional intelligence tests, training and certification.

Self Development

Re-engineer Your Performance Culture To Avoid Disruption

52% of the companies on the Fortune 500 in the year 2000 no longer exist today. Simply put, they were disrupted. If you want to survive and thrive, you need to learn to be the disruptor, and that starts with your employees.

Rob Jardine

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“It’s been discovered that traditional performance reviews trigger the same threat networks in the brain as those that are triggered when we are being attacked by a lion in the wild.”

Developing a performance culture

Performance management is not just about a system, it’s a culture. At its very core it shows what a company values and what it does not. It’s a means through which we reward and encourage certain behaviour and provides a process that enables us to correct behaviour that is not considered helpful in the business.

If a company rewards both quality of client relationships and sales targets for example, it displays a different culture to a company that only rewards sales targets. The way in which companies reward behaviour, be it individual bonuses, team bonuses or incentive trips demonstrates what values they hold.

Related: Leadership Advisor At NeuroLeadership Institute Shares Lessons On Business Success

It’s therefore imperative that businesses begin this process by first defining what they want their performance culture to look like. What does ‘good’ look like and how do we recognise it? I recently read that the best way for top talent to figure out if they want to work for a potential employer is to ask the interviewer how they reward and recognise talent.

This will indicate the type of culture a business has and whether you may be a good fit. From a business perspective, it will determine what types of employees you attract, and how customers are treated by your organisation.

There are a lot of reasons why more than half of the Fortune 500 companies from the year 2000 no longer exist today, but one of the most important is that their decline is simply indicative of disruptive times.

In disruptive times we experience changes in the workplace that fundamentally shake up and change how we do business. The most disruptive times force us to take an honest look at ourselves and reconsider what we need to change to survive. Those that do not adapt often die. But it’s also true that in moments like these industries, societies and cultures move forward.

Be in-tune with your company’s performance culture

One of the biggest areas of reflection for businesses in recent years has been our traditional methods of managing performance. Performance management is considered to be one of the most important functions of a business, no matter the industry or size.

The outcomes of how we manage performance may be the most impactful events in how we get the best out of people, define and execute strategy and ultimately survive as a business. As times change and we move into the next industrial revolution, the pressure has started to mount on many companies that have to reengineer a dated system.

They are being asked to align it with the actual dynamics of work and reflect the nuances of how business has changed. This is even more important when we consider that most of today’s traditional yearly target-review processes stem from the first industrial revolution, which occurred a century ago. A survey of global executives recently admitted that they had only a 4% approval on current performance management processes.

Performance reviews trigger fight or flight

If we consider that most employee performance review techniques are linked to a basically antiquated system, then how we understand the brain can determine what modern-day performance management should look like, starting with how we review our employees.

A major breakthrough in neuroscience has led the field in reengineering performance. It’s been discovered that traditional performance reviews trigger the same threat networks in the brain as those that are triggered when we are being attacked by a lion in the wild.

When these networks are triggered the brain does not prioritise its higher-order thinking and rather resorts to instinctual, unconscious behaviour in order to ensure survival. This has commonly been known as the fight or flight response. In this state the brain’s best thinking is not prioritised as the brain relies on the quick and instinctive thinking needed to ensure survival.

What’s important to remember here is that the brain uses the same neural networks for both physical and social threat. This explains how the same areas of the brain light up when we feel socially threatened in a performance review and when we hurt ourselves physically. It also explains why social isolation is used as an effective form of punishment in prison.

How to achieve a successful performance review

The challenge with performance conversations is that a crucial outcome of the conversation is for the brain to be at its best to prioritise its best thinking. A successful performance review occurs when individuals think reflectively about performance feedback and are able to adjust behaviour and move forward with a plan of action.

The problem is that most performance conversations do not achieve this result successfully because traditional performance reviews trigger a threat response that prevents the brain from being at its best.

Our work at the NeuroLeadership Institute has cumulated in a model of social triggers that can be used to better understand how these social triggers play out. The SCARF model was developed by Dr David Rock and focuses on what triggers a threat state in the brain and what can be leveraged to put the brain into its best state. These could be summarised in the questions:

  • Am I being valued and respected? (Status)
  • Am I in the loop? (Certainty)
  • Do I have a sense of control? (Autonomy)
  • Do I belong? (Relatedness)
  • Am I being treated fairly compared to others? (Fairness)

A typical performance conversation is started with something along the lines of “Come in, let’s do your performance review,” or if you would like to start the conversation, “I need to give you some feedback.” This may trigger all five of the SCARF triggers and put the brain into a natural fight/flight mode.

There is no sense of what the conversation is about and no degree of control and there is a clear distinction made between manager and feedback receiver. However, by being aware of these triggers we are able to structure the same conversation in a different way.

Related: Can Being Deceptive Help You Build Your Business? It Worked For These 5 Entrepreneurs

You could begin the conversation by saying, “I need to give you feedback about X and I need 20 minutes of your time. What time is good for you today?” This conversation puts the brain into a state where it can prioritise its best thinking and is better prepared to actually think differently when given the feedback — the desired outcome of most performance management conversations.

How you can re-engineer your performance culture

At the NeuroLeadership institute we have found that many of our clients are trying to reengineer their performance culture and change the three most critical stages of the performance cycle.

These are Goal Setting, Performance Feedback and Rewards. The changes have largely been influenced by an understanding of threat states in the brain. There are a number of ways that companies are experimenting with changing performance that include removing performance ranking and decoupling bonuses from performance discussions — some of the things that actively trigger the brain’s natural threat network.

We recommend starting the change where you are in your performance journey. Some industries and cultures are more fertile for more radical changes, while others are not. In some cases, you cannot take away ratings or individual targets as the business model does not allow for it.

Some cultures are not always ready for 360o-feedback right away and some remuneration schemes are not always ready for group or shared bonuses. Further technical and system constraints may also impact what is possible. One thing everyone is ready for is to improve the quality of conversations and have them more often.

Why are you conducting performance reviews?

When we think about the performance conversation, we have to remind ourselves what the point of it is. They often deteriorate into conversations that attempt to justify performance or fight for an increase.

This is why a lot of businesses are decoupling bonus or remuneration outcomes from the outcomes of conversations. When we do so, what do we really speak about then? Performance and behaviour change, not a fight or an attempt to justify a salary or performance.

We have found that it’s useful to separate conversations. A salary discussion should ideally happen once a year and check-ins and progress conversations should happen more often. There should be more conversations about performance in a year, done in a brain-friendly manner.

It can sometimes be more stressful for the feedback giver than the feedback receiver and that is why we often delay a conversation until it’s necessary to have one and it becomes a tough conversation.

Figure 1 demonstrates the benefit of having more frequent conversations. When you have regular check-ins you are more able to catch behaviour when it is moving off course and correct the trajectory of growth so that targets are achieved and there isn’t a big surprise between planned and actual performance.

the-business-case-for-frequent-conversations

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Self Development

Why Stress Can Actually Be Good For You

For years we’ve been told how unhealthy stress can be and how important it is to manage our stress. Turns out, everything we thought we knew about stress might actually be wrong.

Nadine Todd

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As a high-performing entrepreneur, there are few things more irritating than being told to work less and manage your stress. You’re building a business, which by its very nature requires a lot of time and is stressful.

Here’s the good news. Health psychologist and author of the best-selling book The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, Kelly McGonigal, has one mission: To help people be happier and healthier. For many years this meant sharing the message that stress makes you sick. It increases the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Basically, she turned stress into the enemy.

But thanks to some ground-breaking studies, Kelly changed her mind. As it turns out, stress doesn’t kill you. Thinking that stress will kill you is the real killer.

Don’t view stress as harmful

Kelly’s opinion of stress started shifting after a ground-breaking study in the US tracked 30 000 adults for eight years. At the start of the study, participants were asked how much stress they had experienced in the last year, and if they believed stress was harmful to their health. They then used public death records to find out who died.

Related: 49 Inspirational Quotes And Mantras To Help You Overcome The Stress Of Running A Business

Here’s the bad news: People who experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43% higher chance of dying. But  that was only true for the people who also believed that stress is harmful.

People who experienced a lot of stress but did not view stress as harmful to their health were no more likely to die than people with absolutely no stress in their lives. In fact, the focus group who had experienced stress but didn’t view it as harmful actually had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study.

Change your response to stress

Other studies have revealed that changing your mind about stress can change your body’s response to it. You can make stress good for you. In one Harvard study, participants were placed in a stressful situation but told that the stress response was good and would help them cope with the situation. Briefed that all the physical signs of stress were helping them to stay focused and perform at their peak — including a heightened heart rate — the participants had a different physiological reaction to someone who believes their stress response is bad.

In a typical stress response, your heart rate goes up and your blood vessels constrict. Constricted vessels are a factor in cardiovascular disease; chronic stress is sometimes associated with heart attacks. It’s not healthy to be in this state all the time.

But in the study, when participants viewed their stress response as helpful, their blood vessels stayed relaxed. Their heart was still pounding, but their cardiovascular profile looked more like what happens in moments of joy and courage. Over a lifetime of stressful experiences, this one biological change could be the difference between a stress-induced heart attack at 50 and living well into your 90s.

Stress also releases oxytocin, which fine-tunes your brain’s social instincts. It primes you to do things that strengthen relationships by making you crave physical contact with your friends and family, enhancing your empathy, and making you more willing to help and support people you care about. So, when oxytocin is released in the stress response, it’s motivating you to seek support.

How will knowing this side of stress make you healthier? Oxytocin also acts on your body. One of its main roles is to protect your cardiovascular system from the effects of stress. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory that also helps your blood vessels stay relaxed during stress. It even helps heart cells regenerate and heal from any stress-induced damage.

Pulling it all together

The harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think and act can transform your experience of stress. When you view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.

Stress gives us access to our hearts, from the compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others, and to the pounding physical heart, working so hard to give us strength and energy. When you view stress this way, you’re not just getting better at it, you’re actually making a profound statement that you trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and that you don’t have to face them alone.

Read next: 4 Stress-Management Tips For Reducing Anxiety And Getting More Done

Watch Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk on how to make stress your friend:

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Self Development

It’s OK To Not Be OK

First, acknowledge your feelings. Then, follow these tips to do something about it.

Nicolette Amarillas

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We live in an age of image projection. Instagram gets over 95 million posts per day. You can find hundreds of thousands of pictures of engagement rings, new puppies, exotic dinners or washboard abs at any given moment.

Even LinkedIn is probably sending you dozens of notifications each month reminding you to congratulate your high school acquaintances on their job-iversaries. It’s easy to get caught up in the general tendency of creating an illusion that we have our lives perfectly together. After all, people are watching. So, what happens when you are not OK?

When depression sets in, when negative self-talk gets too loud or when you get let go, get dumped or lose a loved one. What do we do when we don’t have a solution?

During hard times, most people want to skip past the moment of acknowledging that they aren’t OK and go straight to working toward a resolution. Resolutions – even tough ones – make us feel in control.

Admitting that you’re struggling doesn’t feel as manageable, or fit in with the sense of perfection that most people get blasted with on social media. But the ability to sit with a feeling of failure can be one of the most important skills you learn, both in life and in work.

The power of saying “I’m not OK”

Embracing tough moments, instead of swiftly moving past them, can be incredibly powerful when practiced correctly.

Framing the situation correctly is validating; you acknowledge that your feelings are justified, and that even though your situation is not ideal, you accept there is nothing wrong with the fact that you’re struggling. This is not about accepting and ignoring, this is accepting and moving through.

study from Montana State University found that people who are authentic and honest with themselves can overcome feelings of shame – which would otherwise cause them to devalue themselves.

Dwelling on a feeling of failure is paralysing. It will keep you from asking for help when you need it or making good choices.

Understand that sometimes your emotions take precedence over finding a solution. We often discount the value of feelings  especially in the workplace – but you need to remember that in the end, emotions are simply information.They are facts of life like any other. Emotions exist, and when you’re making decisions, you’ll have to factor them in.

Everyone has points in their career where they make a major mistake or feel overwhelmed by their workload. Women in particular are usually taught not to talk about it.

But according to the sociologist Arlie Hochschild, suppressing negative feelings can cause an “emotional load” that causes you to burn out faster, give up more easily and ultimately be less successful.

As an entrepreneur, professional woman and recovering perfectionist, I’ve realised I need to give myself permission to be not OK sometimes. I accept that there isn’t a solution right now, and I tell myself that that’s OK. That attitude is what has given me the stamina to accomplish everything that I have, even when times felt dark.

Related: It’s My Job And I’ll Cry If I Want To: The Case For Showing Emotions In The Workplace

4 Ways to ground yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work

work-stress

Enduring uncertainty isn’t easy. It’s a professional skill that needs to be fostered like any other. I have four main tactics I personally use in order to stay centred during challenging times.

1. Breathe

You may have heard it a hundred times from your yoga teachers, but it bears repeating: Breathing is the single best way to get yourself centred. There are many different therapeutic ways to breathe, but here’s a simple one I enjoy: If possible, lie on the floor, knees up but feet planted. Otherwise, find somewhere where you can be seated.

Take one hand and put it on your belly and the other on your chest. Inhale for three seconds breathing through your belly, then an additional two seconds filling the chest with air. Hold the breath for a moment and exhale through the mouth completely.

Breathing effectively can literally cure the physical aspects of anxiety. It’s an underrated skill when we talk about what contributes to professional success, but it can make a huge difference.

Related: (Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

2. Find a mantra

You might not consider yourself a “mantra” kind of person, but positive affirmations have been consistently shown to make a major positive impact on confidence and performance.

That said, there’s no need to start memorising inspirational quotes or learning Buddhist scripture. Create your own mantras, ones that resonate for you. Figure out what it is that you need to hear in order to feel stronger.

Some things I find comfort in saying are “I am whole. I am safe. I am here.” Or as Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” These are just simple sentences, but I find them to be powerful in their ability to bring me to my current state.

3. Move

I am huge fan of going for walks when work gets hectic. It’s a valuable way to let your body influence what your brain is doing, instead of the other way around. Try using the power of your steps to help calm your mind and reconnect with the immediate present, so you can keep things in perspective.

The way you hold and move your body can also legitimately influence your sense of person ability. In social scientist Amy Cuddy’s famous TED Talk, she talks about how body language influences confidence.

I teach the power of posture and a strong mind-body connection in the first part of my four-part workshop series, Developing Executive Presence. The goal is to help students develop their own authentic presence as a base necessity for the workshops that follow.

Related: 15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

4. Talk about it

Sometimes, you just need a third-party opinion in order to keep things in perspective. Reach out to your loved ones, friends or even coworkers.

Holistic psychotherapist Kat Dahlen deVos has some great thoughts on the subject: “Sometimes, when we are experiencing fear, sadness or any other painful emotion, our tendency is to feel very alone – like no one understands or can relate to us.

As a result, we isolate, which can actually increase the intensity of our suffering by activating our stress response (a.k.a ‘fight or flight’). When we’re talking to a loved one about what we’re going through, we’re doing two things that can actually help us to move through the difficulty: Allowing our vulnerability to be witnessed, and building the capacity to tolerate painful experiences.”

Other people might be able to make a point that you hadn’t considered, or they might just listen and validate what you’re feeling. Either way, talking honestly about how you’re feeling will ground you, and it might even convince your listeners to be more genuine with themselves about their emotions, as well.

We’re conditioned to think that we always need to give a sense of perfection, but in my experience, that hurts more than it helps us. Humans are flawed, and they struggle in their work life just like in their regular lives. The people who end up being the most successful aren’t the ones who don’t struggle. They’re the ones who know it’s OK to not be OK.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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