“Take your emotions to lunch every now and then. They will teach you something they’ve been trying to teach you for a long time.” — James McPartland
In a recent conversation with a high-performing chief executive officer, he became perplexed when I told him to “feel all of his feelings”.
Let’s just say he wasn't jiggy with that when I suggested it.
My point was, emotions rule the world. And for us that are in high-intensity roles, or work in tension-filled organizations, there's a tendency to want to perform at the highest level all the time.
What we tend to resist are the feelings that are uncomfortable, or that cause anxiety, stress, or frustration. There's no time for those emotions. We have to move on.
And yet statistically, those uncomfortable feelings are the ones that pop up most often.
So said to this CEO, “Let's go to lunch.”
Now of course, he was further perplexed. What I meant by that was, choose the feeling at the moment that's the overarching or overriding emotion that you're seeking to push away. Yet no matter what you do, it comes through in your body language or the words that you're using.
“What’s the emotion?”
He chose anxiety.
I said “Terrific. Let's go for it. Let's take anxiety to lunch…. or go for a run.” (This guy's a runner.)
And so we took the emotion to lunch.
I said, “If you put anxiety across from you and you have a discussion with it and say”:
“Anxiety. What is it you want from me? I have been pushing you away for as long as I can. I’m not going to resist any longer.” Because resistance to our feelings only makes those emotions get stronger.
We need to ask that persistent emotion when it shows up, well first, “What are you having for lunch? “ then after that...
“What is it you want from me? Why do you keep showing up? What is it that you're trying to tell me?”
When we slow down long enough to feel all feelings and trust that we’ll be okay if we just stop and peel back the layers, we’ll come to see there's a couple of things going on that are trying to get our attention.
In the CEO’s example, it was anxiety.
Now anxiety often arises due to a fear of the future. He anticipated something was going to happen, or maybe he was worrying in advance.
The short of it is, if we ask the nagging emotion what it's asking of us, we’re more likely going to find out something that's bothering us internally. And if we’ll take the time to stop and identify it, we can deal with it.
Look, many of us can deal with the truth. We may not like it, but we can deal with the truth.
Here’s another way to look at it:
This CEO I’ve been telling you about is also a surfer. I said, “Imagine you're getting into the water, and you're waiting on your set. Those sets are the emotions coming through. Ride the biggest wave, that wave of anxiety. It's eventually going to flatten out as you deal with it. It always passes, but before it passes, get the lesson. Otherwise it will come back more frequently than you want it to and wash you over.”
So feel all feelings. Take your emotions to lunch, go for a run with your emotions, surf with your emotions. They will teach you something they’ve been trying to teach you for a long time.
Because when we resist them, they only get bigger. And that only makes our future more fearful.