UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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November 2010: "Acknowledge emotions as your teacher"

As a culture and particularly in the workplace, we are practiced at submerging our ‘shadow’ emotions – those emotions that we deem challenging such as frustration, fear, sadness, resentment, etc. We are fearful about how we may appear to others if we openly share these emotions and, if we’re truthful, we also may be hesitant to allow ourselves to feel what we’re truly feeling for fear of what might show up. While these concerns may be valid, avoiding our emotions may limit our personal and relationship growth. Emotions can teach us valuable lessons about what matters to us. For example sadness can illuminate what we care about; anger can reveal a boundary that’s been crossed. What gifts might we personally and our relationships receive if we honor and learn from our emotions?

In the next month, begin noticing what emotions emerge in relationship with others. Instead of avoiding these emotions, ask: ‘What are you here to teach me?’ This may be difficult to do in the heat of the moment. One safe way to explore emotions is through meditation. Allow yourself 10 minutes a day to ‘sit with’ the emotion without judgment and notice what arises. You will likely receive insights regarding the matter at hand and may decide to do more self-work on the emotion, let the issue go or have a conversation with your partner from a place of “response” rather than “reaction.” If you decide to have a conversation, notice how coming from a clear, centered stance shifts the conversation and your relationship.