Dealing With Negative Emotions

Recently, after learning from an expert on peak performance, a friend asked me,

 “I listened to the Peak Performance teleseminar with Jon Skidmore and was really struck by it. Because work leads to a lot of conflicted emotions for me, I was wondering if you have any advice on how to reach for “peak performance” when what you would prefer to do is drop kick a few people off a convenient walkway. How do I stay focused on the task at hand, while not discounting some very real (and not un-called-for) negative emotions?

One of my typical responses is to “shut-down”… but it’s not such a great solution long term. If you can’t tell anyone anything, you eventually get cut off even from the people who are supportive. So, I am still looking for ways to move through this without feeling like I am losing all the things I built up, i.e., my professional reputation, my “worth”, standing, and even just the right to be treated as a full member of the academy. It seems that even at this level we get stuck in that “ha-ha, mine’s bigger” mentality…”

The negative emotions my colleague is feeling are definitely warranted. She has been treated poorly. Pretending that those emotions are not there is unhelpful and unhealthy. And, focusing on them is not that great either (hmmm…been there, done that).

One idea that is useful in this and other situations (and I have used it myself) is:

Act ‘as if.’

Here is how it works. Just as you may have heard that sometimes we need to “act as if” something is in place or a situation is resolved (e.g., that we are confident, that we are slim, that we are great speakers, etc.), in difficult situations at work, we need to “act as if”

  • we are not being ignored
  • we are being treated collegially
  • we are being asked (and valued for) our opinions
  • and the like.

To prepare for some days of acting “as if,” get yourself in a frame of mind of how you would behave (interact) if everything things were hunky dory at work (even when you know that they are not). Imagine and envision what that would look and feel like.

Note: This is not about being fake or inauthentic; you are “trying on” something just like you “try on” an outfit or a pair of shoes. I think about this being one of the ways that we audition things in life. So, in this case, you are auditioning the idea of acting ‘as if’ you are a full member of the academy, being respected, and interacting comfortably with your colleagues.

When you try this out (if you decide to do so, you can also analyze the result. What was different when you tried this? What ended up being affected. Anything? Did you feel different? Did others behave differently?

There are no guarantees. However, acting ‘as if,’ albeit tiring at first, is worth trying. You will be able to see if it is more beneficial and in fact, less exhausting, than being in a toxic situation, where you can’t possibly achieve peak performance because of the focus on the negative of what is happening.

And if you would also like weekly doses of positivity, please visit the Staying Positive Society. We are a positive group and would love to have you join us!

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