Long or emotional week, contractors? It’s better out than in
We’ve all had those days when things are just not going our way, when our world has a few more dark clouds in and we push our emotions aside, just carrying on in the hope it will all go away.
But pretending you don’t have certain feelings, might help you avoid having to talk about it, yet it doesn’t actually make them go away. As a contractor or two before me demonstrated this month, holding back your emotions can actually intensify feelings and create bigger issues in the long run, writes life coach Shwezin Win of Win At Life.
The bad of bottling up
Studies suggest that hiding your emotions can have negative repercussions -- both for the person concealing them and for those around them. Further research has linked emotion suppression to higher rates of anxiety, insomnia, and other unhealthy outcomes. When we keep our emotions in, as they intensify, they can take over more and more of our thoughts; our feelings, and at its worst, it can cause a loss of control.
But rest assured if you’re a contractor who’s the Strong Silent-type! To avoid a loss of control doesn’t mean that you have to wear your heart on your sleeve at all times, or that you need to talk about EVERY feeling that comes into your head!
As with most things, the middle course is your friend. Getting to semi-regularly articulate your feelings in a safe space, talking to someone so you can clear your head by emptying your thoughts out into a conversation, lets you put things into perspective. It lets you process and destress -- even potentially letting you identify what it is that you’re going through and what it is that matters most in your world.
I’ve seen contractors with a real tangled web of thoughts and emotions, making them feel understandably overwhelmed. It can be difficult to really see what’s going on, what’s important, what’s not; let alone how to know which is the best route out of the situation.
What are you like when you're angry?
Let’s take anger -- a classic example which affects us all. Many people believe it’s better to push anger aside than express it. However, when expressed in the right way, in an assertive, calm, non-aggressive manner, a productive, healthy way to communicate can emerge.
How many times have you been angry at a situation, pushed it aside and then later lashed out at someone, possibly an unrelated person, at something mundane? It wouldn’t happen ordinarily, but that suppressed feeling from an earlier event (or ‘events’ if you’re a really big bottler) has just come up to the surface and burst out beyond your day-to-day control.
The contractor who longed to get back to 'him'...
The annoying thing is this happens to the best of us, even consummate professionals! One client who I enjoy working with started coming to me when they were unhappy with the situations in their life. They were unhappy with their current contract, and they were having problems at home too. Being frustrated, irritable, angry without either their personal or professional space providing any sort of sanctuary, they felt surrounded by their problems. They longed to get back to their old self.
Well, through our coaching sessions, they were able to eventually identify a recurring emotion which had been building up for a while. As coaching is a tool to find a way forward, they realised they needed some help in dealing with a past trauma that had not been dealt with properly. Although, I couldn’t help them back at that time, I was there now to understand; to map out a way forward which worked.
It's good (if not bordering on great) to talk
Even outside of a professional coaching environment, when you talk about your emotions, you become more self-aware. And this is the beginning of understanding what triggers and creates certain negative emotions inside of you.
The big upside? You start to recognise these not just in yourself but in those around you too, thereby improving your emotional intelligence, and truth be told -- helping you become a better manager, leader and business professional. You’ll become generally a better person as well.
Such self-awareness typically also lets you identify the tools and techniques which will help you manage those emotions in the future, so can check-yourself way before that spiralling out-of-control feeling can take hold.
We live in a society that is vocal about gender equality and rightly so. But among men specifically, where the suicide rate is three times higher than it is with women, discovering the techniques which work for them, as individuals, needs working on -- and fast.
The danger of 'Man-Up' rhetoric
Indeed, societal pressure to “man up” and “keep calm and carry on”, because it’s seen to be unmasculine for males to talk about their emotions and feelings, can carry a heavy weight, especially for men where these boundaries were laid down decades ago, as part of their upbringing.
Holding down those feelings of frustration, irritation and anger can leave you totally worn out while having a detrimental impact on colleagues and family members who catch you at ‘the wrong moment.’ That moment is, of course, when you lose control of the feelings which have been bubbling away.
If I’m not convincing you to stop being a bottler to help yourself, your friends or even your loved ones, then maybe realise ‘better out than in’ is going to achieve more for you and your contracting career?! And contractors, I’m not even joking. Research shows emotional intelligence is now a better measure of success than IQ, because your ability to connect with others can improve anxiety, reduce stress and can lead to better communication, collaboration, and ultimately, success in life.
Strong Silent-type? Consider joining me on September 19th
So if you’re that Strong Silent-type who finally feels like admitting the error of their ways, it’s not too late. This July, Samaritans is running their annual awareness-raising campaign ‘Talk to us.’ But even if you don’t talk to them, consider who you can open up to, so you can deal with some of those thoughts and feelings which may be holding you back from being happy.
If you’d like to know more about emotional intelligence and hear about some tried and tested exercises, ranging from confidence-building to mindfulness, all geared to improve your competence in this area, join me at my webinar on Tuesday Sept 19th 12:30-13:30: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/emotional-intelligence-tickets-686411975697?aff=oddtdtcreator.