Hurtful memories can stifle your development and growth. I’ve coached a number of women who have left a toxic work environment and some are still trying to land another position so they can leave.
Sometimes in the middle of a toxic workplace, we can pick up emotions that don’t reflect the leader we want to be. How, then, do we break through this insidious mental conditioning? How do we grow and develop beyond hurtful episodes that bury themselves in our subconscious and influence our lives? How do we change and grow so that we can be a healthy leader?
The first step is to break free from these inhibiting influences by recognizing when you display them. Once you see that they have creeped into your life, you can either get rid of them or turn them into a positive force that pushes you ahead rather than holds you back
Here are a few of the most common emotions that burrow into the subconscious and impede our growth:
This is a natural response to a perceived attack or injury. It makes energy flow. However, when anger is allowed to simmer, it depletes energy that could be used to improve your life. If you hold your anger for too long, it will start to hurt you. With anger, the best approach is to let it go. One technique you can use is closing your eyes and envisioning yourself holding a box of anger. Then see yourself as you walk up to a fire pit, throw the box in and let it burn. One of my clients actually writes what she’s angry about and burns it in her fire pit at night. She agrees that burning the anger is very freeing and that feeling drives a motivation to keep anger out of her life.
This emotion is one that I think of as the first cousin of anger. Revenge robs you of strength in the long run. The person who has injured you has probably gone on with life; so should you. Don’t let the injury hurt you further by inhibiting your growth or progress. Instead of being motivated to get back at them, be motivated to be a stronger, better person.
This is crippling because it drains you from the start, sapping your will to move forward. Often, I find that people who suffer from sadness need time to let it slowly melt away at its own pace. Time can heal some; however, if it seems to linger and interfere with your movement forward, you may need to consciously force it out by seeking out things that make you laugh and feel positive about life again. For me, getting outside into nature helps a lot. If I’m near the ocean, even better. The sound of the crashing waves is soothing and washes away my sadness.
Life is not always fair. I’ve seen resentment drive wedges in relationships when the resentment turned into bitterness. A couple months ago, I had a friend confide in me that she resented the way she was being treated by someone else. It broke my heart to hear her tell me that she was now so bitter about it that she couldn’t even stand to be around the other person anymore. In fact, she had even blocked the person on her phone so that she didn’t have to receive their responses to group texts. I knew my friend had a therapist and asked if she thought that would be someone she could turn to about this issue. My friend hadn’t realized until that moment just how crippling her resentment had become and she committed to raising the issue in therapy.
Guilt is another emotion that stands between you and your leadership goals. All of us have done things we feel bad about and regret. Things we would do differently. Many of us carry that guilt around and it keeps us from moving forward. I was coaching a group the other day when a leader shared that she had too much to drink on a recent business trip and divulged her not-so-kind feelings about a former employee with some of her staff. She was totally embarrassed by her behavior and felt guilty that she let her feelings get the best of her. I asked her what she thought she needed to overcome the guilt and embarrassment and she thoughtfully said that changed behavior going forward would empower her to shed these feelings.
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Ridding yourself of these past emotions can be hard, yet cutting them off at the painful roots not only benefits you as a person, it also will benefit you as a leader. If you want some help reigning in your emotions or rooting them out, click here and schedule a time to talk.