How are you?
Fine, how are you?
That’s how most of our conversations usually start; but “fine” is not a feeling, it’s not an emotion. Fine is simply what we say to quickly get past the expected pleasantries and onto the more important matters of our conversation. Of course, if we’re honest, we really don’t want to dive into the subject of our feelings or emotions with most of our conversations anyway, especially non-personal conversations.
However, knowing how you are feeling or what emotions you are experiencing as you enter a new conversation with someone is vital information to help ensure that this new conversation, the interaction, and the outcome are not impacted negatively because of feelings or emotions that you may be holding onto from a previous conversation or interaction.
If you just had an argument with your significant other, a disagreement with a co-worker, or just received an email from someone that really upset you, then your reaction to any one of those is likely to be a negative emotion. Without some level of self-awareness or mindfulness of what you’re feeling right now, you could very well carry this negative emotion right into your new conversation with undesirable consequences.
If you can start to identify what you are feeling or the emotions you are experiencing at any given moment, then you are taking the first step towards understanding and managing them. You can start to look for ways to move towards better feeling thoughts, more positive emotions; or at the very least put your current emotions in check when starting to engage with someone new who had nothing to do with what you’re currently feeling.
If you can learn to pause for a moment, to check in with yourself and ask…
- How am I feeling right now?
- What am I feeling right now?
- Why am I feeling this way right now?
…then you are taking the first step towards mindfulness — being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Taking that pause to check in with yourself and how you’re feeling throughout the day between interactions may not be a normal routine for you, it’s certainly not for the general population. However, it is something you can learn to do, and with practice, learn to do well.
A simple technique to start with is to write the word “pause” where you can see it several times throughout your day. This could be on a sticky note you place on your computer or on your notepad, it could be listed several times on your daily to-do list as items that you have to check off, or better yet, schedule it on your calendar to occur several times throughout the day. By having it on your calendar you’ll get pop-up reminders to pause for a moment and check in with yourself on how you’re feeling, to see if your current thoughts need some tweaking or minor adjustments.
When taking those pause breaks, it can be helpful to identify that current feeling or emotion that you’re experiencing on the 7-Level Emotional Scale.
Throughout your day, with various conversations and interactions taking place, it is likely you’ll experience a variety of emotions on different levels of the scale. This is very normal. It’s not about right or wrong emotions, it’s about identifying and being aware what you’re feeling at any given moment, and then learning to manage those feelings and emotions.
Your goal is to identify your current emotion and where you are on the emotional scale. If you just had a disagreement with a co-worker, then it’s likely you might feel a bit frustrated, and that’s okay. By pausing for a moment and identifying that you’re currently feeling frustrated you are starting to take control. You may not be able to deal with or resolve the issue with your co-worker right now, but you can choose whether or not your current emotion will be carried into the next conversation or interaction that you’re about to have with someone else.
Let’s say you’re about to enter a meeting with your boss, who you like and get along with pretty well. Before you head into that meeting with your boss you want to pause long enough to identify what you’re feeling (i.e. frustrated) and remind yourself that what you’re feeling has nothing to do with your boss. You want to acknowledge to yourself that you’re frustrated with your co-worker, not your boss, and then strive to clear your mind and shift your thoughts to something more positive.
You want to strive to shift your thoughts to something that feels better, something that is higher up on the emotional scale. This can often be done by changing the subject of your thoughts completely, and thinking about something completely different, unrelated to work. Maybe you can think about your kids and how happy they make you or something funny they did recently that made you laugh out loud, or maybe you’re going out for a nice dinner that evening with your spouse or significant other. Find something that will allow you to shift your thoughts towards things that feel good, that start to move you up the emotional scale to more positive emotions.
Remember, emotions are simply the results of your thoughts; if you want better feeling emotions, then start by thinking better feeling thoughts — and today is a great day to start making your “PAUSE’n SHIFT” towards those better feeling thoughts and emotions!