“A sociology professor at the University of Seville, says, ‘As human beings, we can only experience life emotionally” - Brené Brown
As a wellbeing practitioner, I see clients coming to me daily at a breaking point. This has become even more prevalent since covid, which has just added another layer of uncertainty to everything we do. Everyone is feeling overstretched both physically and mentally.
Naming is framing
“In my experience working with clients, the ability to name a certain emotion or experience is essential to being able to process it in a productive and healing manner” - Brené Brown
We all know how much our language influences our thinking. There have been countless studies exposing the impact of language, or ‘naming’ on our perception of our environment and attention. If in your language you only have one word for the colours green and blue, you’re less likely to notice the difference between the two.
The same counts for your emotional world: If you only know two types of emotions, it will be hard for you to notice, and understand anger or confusion. Being able to recognize and name a broad range of emotions helps you understand and navigate your relationships in your personal and professional life.
We are currently falling short by not addressing and recognizing emotions in our workplaces and not including emotional well-being as part of overall wellbeing.
The long term effects on productivity
Not dealing with emotional wellbeing has a long term adverse effect on our body, our mind and our soul. For many of my clients, feeling a constant tension in their bodies and minds seems to be the new normal.
As employees continue to push down all the overwhelming emotions they are feeling, their quality of life is slipping away both in the workplace and in their private life. They are less likely to feel like a connected and valued member of the team, and this leads to disheartenment, which results in less productivity within the group as a whole.
This lack of connectives will spill over to their social life; they will begin to close down and stop doing things they once enjoyed doing, like playing golf and seeing friends. This will only aggravate the situation and cause a downward spiral: It is exactly these types of activities that are essential for our resilience and keeping up our emotional buffer, which will lead to a resilient workplace.
Living Your best (Work) Life
I have just briefly touched on what happens to our bodies and minds when we ignore or numb out our emotions when we are feeling overwhelmed and burned out. But what can we do to turn it around and have a positive impact on both our emotional culture at work?
We often hear people talking about their personal goals or the companies' goals. We want to live a life aligned with our goals so that we can live our best life, right?
But have you ever wondered what sits below those goals? Why did you choose those goals in the first place? Do you know what thoughts, feelings and emotions went into choosing those goals? Once we learn to recognise that our emotions drive our behaviours, we can use our senses to harness positive changes.
So how can we learn to lead our teams from a place of openness and volubility?
We can shine a light on what we would like to see more of: Learning to sit with the uncomfortable emotions that arise in the workplace and understand that these so-called negative emotions do give a clue that something isn’t working. We need to have vulnerable conversations with our team about why they are feeling a disconnect, overwhelmed, and stressed out. When we address the elephant in the room we will bring about reliance and a feeling of connectedness, which will enhance the Emotional culture in the workplace.
Speaker and author Brene Brown is famous for talking about emotional topics like vulnerability and shame. I love what she writes in her latest book ‘Atlas of the heart, Mapping meaningful Connection and the language of the Human Experience’:
“Without understanding how our feelings, thoughts, and behaviours work together, its almost impossible to find our way back to ourselves and each other. When we don’t understand how our emotions shape our thoughts and decisions, we become disembodied from our own experience and disconnected from each other.”