Sample Practice Session: Navigating Nerves

I packed up my work bag the night before and was feeling prepared. But on the way to the meeting, I could detect a different nagging feeling that would not go away.

I was feeling anxious.

As I dwelt in the feeling of anxiousness, I noticed my thoughts traveling down a path of self-doubt. What if things don’t go the way I want? What if I get tongue-tied? What if they say no? What if the whole thing gets derailed? What if….

STOP. I told myself.

It occurred to me that I was running on auto-pilot and letting the feeling of anxiousness turn into a “what if” game that I was about to lose. So I pushed pause, took a deep breath, and remembered to do three things.

Through my work with Six Seconds, I understood that “if you name it, you can tame it.” So, yes I was feeling anxious. In fact, I was feeling a bunch of things including scared, intrigued, curious, uncomfortable, and insecure.

As I took a moment to name how I was feeling, I could feel my heart beat go from pounding to a little more controlled.

I then considered what those feelings were telling me. Just like a spreadsheet of data, my feelings were telling me something. As I considered their value and messages, I was reminded that this particular meeting was really important to me. I wanted to be my best. I knew I needed to listen well and lean into all the training and experience I was bringing along with me. As I processed that, I recognized my thoughts were calming down and my “what if” game was changing. 

And then I remembered an article I read just a few days prior. It was about a study conducted by Harvard Business School professor, Alison Wood. Her research was specifically about feeling anxious. 

Wood’s research suggests that actively 
re-naming feeling anxious to feeling excited
 will help develop an opportunity mindset versus a mindset that seeks to protect (threat). 

Sounds simple enough, right? Simon Sinek talks about something very similar. Watch this short clip.

Back to my story…As I drove to my meeting I decided to try it! I moved from saying, “I feel anxious,” to “I feel excited!” Yes, I said it out loud. In my car. By myself. At first, it made me laugh – which is already better than sweating from feeling anxious- but then I noticed something else.

I sat in this re-named feeling of excitement, and I:

Recognizing feelings and emotions gives you important information. Naming and re-naming is a strategy to help you navigate the emotion to the best possible outcome.

When you catch yourself feeling anxious, try practicing these steps.

Start by validating and exploring the feeling of anxiousness. What is this feeling revealing to you about the situation?

Identify what makes the situation exciting and say out loud, “I am feeling excited.”

Change the narrative in your mind and focus on the possible opportunity.

Make a commitment to yourself to practice this new perspective over the next six months and notice what changes.

Share your experience with someone else. 

Copyright ©2018, EQuip Studios www.EQuipStudios.net

Worry On Overdrive

We all have times when we are overcome with worry. Those times when all we can think about is the number of possible things that can go wrong. For some, excessive worry can be a symptom of an anxiety disorder. For others, it might just be retraining yourself to move from pessimistic to optimistic thinking.

Study participants were asked...

to record their worries on a piece of paper over an extended period of time. Of the worries listed, what percentage NEVER came true? A. 37% B. 65% C. 85%

85% of the worries identified never happened!

Research shows that our brains generate scenarios of possible future events in order to prepare our brains and bodies to deal with them.
Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.

Acceptance-Based Meditation

In her Psychology Today post, Four Surprising Ways to Worry Less, Melanie Greenburg, Ph.D. describes the idea of acceptance-based mediation as a way to reduce worry. This form of meditation focuses on the following three steps.

1

Turn inward. Notice and acknowledge the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. ​

2

Allow the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations to occur.​

3

As best you can, label the feelings, you are experiencing.​

2017 study using this approach showed that acceptance-based meditation helped to reduce acute worry. Being present in the moment and observing the worrying thoughts without reacting, helped to reduce the frequency. 

In the midst of worry this week, push pause to quiet yourself and turn inward.

Pay attention to what is happening. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? How is your body reacting?

Do the best that you can to label your feelings. Use the feelings chart to help you go past surface feelings like happy, sad, excited, and scared.

Meditate on these questions: What is the value in this feeling? What is this feeling telling me? How can I use this feeling to move forward, or create positive change?

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Boiling Over With Anger? 5 Steps To Put A Lid On It

Facing increased pressure and rapid change can make most situations very challenging for people. The authors of Harvard Business Review, The Making of a Corporate Athlete  asked hundreds of athletes how they felt when they were performing their best.

How did the athletes feel when they were performing at their best?​

Calm, Challenged, Engaged, Focused, Optimistic, and Confident

When the authors asked the same question to law enforcement officers, military personnel, surgeons, and corporate executives, they used similar language to describe how they were feeling.

So what happens to performance when you are feeling erratic, rattled, frustrated, impatient, or irritated?

Emotions are not positive or negative. They are pieces of data that influence our performance. Emotions have the ability to ignite energy to drive high performance, and the ability to drain energy and stall performance. 

The authors suggest a five-step ritual to contain those energy-draining emotions.

5 Steps to Navigate Emotions

1

Turn your awareness inward and begin to recognize signals from your body such as physical tension, a racing heart, tightness in the chest.

2

Once these signals are recognized, close your eyes and take several deep breaths.

3

Next, consciously relax your muscles in your face. Soften your voice and speak more slowly.

4

Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is triggering you. What might he or she be feeling?

5

Frame your response using positive language.

Life is tough, and while it isn’t always in our power to change our external conditions, we can train to better manage our inner state.
Harvard Business Review, The Making of a Corporate Athlete

Practice the five-step model identified above. It may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but with practice and repetition, it will become automatic.  

Share the model with someone and ask for feedback as you apply it.

Make note of your progress.

Copyright ©2018, EQuip Studios www.EQuipStudios.net

Navigating Nerves

I packed up my work bag the night before and was feeling prepared. But on the way to the meeting, I could detect a different nagging feeling that would not go away.

I was feeling anxious.

As I dwelt in the feeling of anxiousness, I noticed my thoughts traveling down a path of self-doubt. What if things don’t go the way I want? What if I get tongue-tied? What if they say no? What if the whole thing gets derailed? What if….

STOP. I told myself.

It occurred to me that I was running on auto-pilot and letting the feeling of anxiousness turn into a “what if” game that I was going to lose. So I pushed pause, took a deep breath, and remembered to do three things.

Through my work with Six Seconds, I understood that “if you name it, you can tame it.” So, yes I was feeling anxious. In fact, I was feeling a bunch of things including scared, intrigued, curious, uncomfortable, and insecure.

As I took a moment to name how I was feeling, I could feel my heart beat go from pounding to a little more controlled.

I then considered what those feelings were telling me. Just like a spreadsheet of data, my feelings were telling me something. As I considered their value and messages, I was reminded that this particular meeting was really important to me. I wanted to be my best. I knew I needed to listen well and lean into all the training and experience I was bringing along with me. As I processed that, I recognized my thoughts were calming down and my “what if” game was changing. 

And then I remembered an article I read just a few days prior. It was about a study conducted by Harvard Business School professor, Alison Wood. Her research was specifically about feeling anxious. 

Wood’s research suggests that actively re-naming feeling anxious to feeling excited will help develop an opportunity mindset versus a mindset that seeks to protect (threat). 

Sounds simple enough, right? Simon Sinek talks about something very similar. Watch this short clip.

Back to my story…As I drove to my meeting I decided to try it! I moved from saying, “I feel anxious,” to “I feel excited!” Yes, I said it out loud. In my car. By myself. At first, it made me laugh – which is already better than sweating from feeling anxious- but then I noticed something else.

I sat in this re-named feeling of excitement, and I:

Recognizing feelings and emotions gives you important information. Naming and re-naming is a strategy to help you navigate the emotion to the best possible outcome.

When you catch yourself feeling anxious, try practicing these steps.

Start by validating and exploring the feeling of anxiousness. What is this feeling revealing to you about the situation?

Identify what makes the situation exciting and say out loud, “I am feeling excited.”

Change the narrative in your mind and focus on the possible opportunity.

Make a commitment to yourself to practice this new perspective over the next six months and notice what changes.

Share your experience with someone else. 

Copyright ©2018, EQuip Studios www.EQuipStudios.net

Do You Bottle or Brood Over Your Emotions?

As you continue on this journey to develop your emotional intelligence, you might discover that now that you are able to recognize your emotions, you may not know what to do with them!

Susan David, the author of Emotional Agility, talks about two ways to handle your emotions.

According to Susan David,  Bottlers try to push the unwanted feelings to the side so that they can move on with things. They find unwanted feelings to be uncomfortable and distracting. 

Kerry was hoping for a promotion. He was sure his efforts on the recent budget cuts were recognized and his innovative idea to improve the department’s productivity was well received by his team members and management. Everyone, including his peers, thought he was the top choice to take over the department once his current manager retired. Secretly, Kerry believed it too.  

When Kerry didn’t get the promotion, he put on a happy face and came to work, business as usual. He didn’t talk about it with anyone and continued to work hard. Deep down he was feeling devastated, discouraged, and overlooked.

A Bottler believes these unwanted feelings can make him look weak, and they can possibly alienate him from others. Therefore, he chooses to bottle up his feelings and move on.

The Bottler will also avoid focusing on whatever is causing the unwanted emotion, which means the root problem can continue for years! In some cases, Bottlers will try to think positively to push the negative thoughts out, which actually only amplifies them!

On the other hand, according to Susan David, Brooders tend to linger in their misery, endlessly replaying the situation over and over in a loop recording in their head. A Brooder loses perspective, making something very small into something very big.

As the feelings circle around over and over, they gain strength, much like a tornado.

Have you ever received a piece of feedback that wasn’t what you hoped for or expected? Vivaan did. After spending weeks working on a project, he was excited to hear his boss’ feedback. When he heard the words, “This is rather mediocre,” Vivaan was devastated.

Mediocre. Vivaan heard that statement over and over in his head while feeling discouraged, insecure, depleted, and withdrawn. These feelings gained strength each time the tornado circled around.

Often times, a Brooder focuses on these situations, blaming himself while trying to understand the why behind his choices. The overthinking typically gets him no closer to resolving whatever is at the core of the pain

Emotional Agility is the ability NOT to ignore thoughts and emotions,
but to recognize when they and the stories that come with them,
might not be serving us. 

-Susan David

As you consider both of these styles, do you resonate most with being a Bottler or Brooder? Are you ready to try something different with your feelings?

If you are a Bottler:

No matter how hard you try, you still experience emotions and feelings all throughout the day. Take time to turn inward and notice what you are feeling. Sit in the feeling and pay attention to how it impacts your thoughts and even your body.

Look at the feeling as a piece of data. What might the feeling be telling you? What does this new piece of data reveal to you?

What thoughts are attached to these feelings?

Share what you are feeling with someone you trust such as your coach, family member, or a close friend.

Emotions drive people. What are you learning about yourself through your feelings? What’s important to you? 

If you are a Brooder:

Pay extra attention this week and recognize the pattern of Brooding. What loop recording are you playing over and over?

Push pause on the loop recording and turn inward. How are you feeling and what thoughts are triggering the recording to play over and over?

As you consider your thoughts and feelings, what new insights do you have about the current situation?

How might you use this new insight to move forward? What new thoughts can help you navigate the situation?

Share what you are learning with someone you trust such as your coach, family member, or a close friend.

Copyright ©2018, EQuip Studios www.EQuipStudios.net

Riding the Emotional Escalator

I was working under a tight deadline, and I was juggling several projects at one time. I was feeling overwhelmed, definitely stressed, but confident that my work plan was going to get me to the deadline with maybe a day to spare. I was focused on the task and hard at work and then…I got interrupted.

The individual, let’s call him Bob, didn’t think twice about the interruption. Bob was dealing with something he perceived to be an emergency. In fact, in his mind, the situation was an 8 on a 10 point scale of emergency. I, on the other hand, saw his situation as a 2 on a 10 point scale, but nonetheless, I tried to engage my EQ so that I could empathize.

I listened. I reflected and gave my input when asked.

Okay back to work, racing against the clock. Five minutes later, I am interrupted, again by Bob.

This time I was feeling annoyed and frustrated that he didn’t see that I was really trying to focus and that I had a hard deadline I was trying to hit.

I could continue the story, but after the third interruption, I lost it so I’ll just end it here. 🙂

Emotions and Escalators

You can think of your emotions similar to an escalator. The higher up they go, the more intense they become. Your cortex, or thinking part of the brain, interacts with emotions differently the higher up the escalator you go.

When you are experiencing less intense emotions, your cortex is able to work in coordination with your emotions. You are able to make good decisions, blending your thoughts and feelings together.

As you move higher up the escalator and your emotions grow in intensity, they hijack the thinking part of your brain, and actually shut it down. Your emotions are now directing your actions…or your reactions.

Download and print the Riding the Emotional Escalator worksheet.

Download

Riding the Emotional Escalator

As you move through the week, pay attention to when your emotions are moving up the escalator. Describe the situation. What is going on in the moment that is driving you up the escalator? Who is involved?

What thoughts are running through your head?  How are you feeling? Name as many feelings as possible. As you look at your list of feeling words, which is the loudest, the one that is most intense? Which is the brightest, the one that may help you navigate through the situation?

If you were to focus on the brightest feeling, how would that impact your thoughts? What other feelings might surface? How might this impact the outcome of the situation? Where are you now on the escalator?

Share your experience with someone you trust. What are you learning about how to navigate your emotions? What do you want to practice? What feedback or input do you need from others?

Copyright ©2018, EQuip Studios www.EQuipStudios.net

What is Navigate Emotions?

Emotions move us. Whether we recognize the feelings or not, emotions still drive our decisions, interactions, perceptions, and relationships. 

We often perceive feelings to be either good or bad. But what would happen if we saw them as data that provides insight about a current experience? The skill of Navigate Emotions includes turning inward to recognize your feelings and gain insight and energy from them.

Complete the Practice Sessions in this module to learn how you can harness the wisdom of feelings and transform them to give you what you need to respond with intention.

Copyright ©2018, EQuip Studios www.EQuipStudios.net