Most leaders I work with are aware of the importance of their physical health, particularly the importance of eating nutritious foods, exercising and treating their physical injuries and ailments. Most of them, however, pay little attention at all to their emotional health.
Gary Winch, in his TED talk “Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid” states:
We sustain psychological injuries even more often than we do physical ones, injuries like failure or rejection or loneliness. And they can also get worse if we ignore them, and they can impact our lives in dramatic ways.
You wouldn’t make a physical injury worse on purpose. You wouldn’t get a cut on your arm and decide, “Oh, I know! I’m going to take a knife and see how much deeper I can make it.
But, we do that with psychological injuries all the time. Why? Because of poor emotional hygiene. Because we don’t prioritize our psychological health. We know from dozens of studies that when your self-esteem is lower, you are more vulnerable to stress and to anxiety, that failures and rejections hurt more and it takes longer to recover from them.
Are you a leader that believes emotions do not belong at work? Or, maybe you don’t see the value of emotions anywhere. If so, I’m here to set you straight. Based on my experience:
“The importance of gaining a deeper understanding of the emotional system…has become increasingly recognized as an important scientific undertaking, as it has become clear that emotions underlie the majority of the stress we experience, influence our decisions, provide the motivation for our actions, and create the textures that determine our quality of life.”
Now, I hope you are re-thinking the importance of emotions. How do you improve your emotional health?
In Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace), Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s “Jolly Good Fellow” states in his Ted Talk:
Leadership training in Google, for example, places a lot of emphasis on the inner qualities, such as self-awareness, self-mastery, empathy and compassion, because we believe that leadership begins with character. We even created a seven-week curriculum on emotion intelligence, which we jokingly call “Searching Inside Yourself.
One element of Meng’s Search Inside Yourself approach is a focus on inner development and personal growth which has 3 components:
The Dalai Lama suggests something similar: noticing the emotional beginnings that signal a negative emotion is developing, or stirring. Then, reflect on what those stirrings might indicate. As a result, you may have a fresh perspective on your feelings and avoid repeating any old rote thoughts that usually accompany your negative emotions.
Guy Winch ends his TED talk with:
By taking action when you’re lonely, by changing your responses to failure, by protecting your self-esteem, by battling negative thinking, you won’t just heal your psychological wounds, you will build emotional resilience, you will thrive. A hundred years ago, people began practicing personal hygiene, and life expectancy rates rose by over 50 percent in just a matter of decades. I believe our quality of life could rise just as dramatically if we all began practicing emotional hygiene.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone was psychologically healthier? If there were less loneliness and less depression? If people knew how to overcome failure? If they felt better about themselves and more empowered? If they were happier and more fulfilled? I can, because that’s the world I want to live in, and that’s the world my brother wants to live in as well. And if you just become informed and change a few simple habits, well, that’s the world we can all live in.
I couldn’t have summed it up better. So, start down the path of becoming an emotional master!
Ready for more? Browse additional articles in Emotional Intelligence!