Emotional Capacity: It’s Not Just for Artistic Types

There are multiple layers to creating the solid structure in your life to be more happy and productive professional.  In my last post I talked about laying a solid foundation of “physical capacity” and taking care of our health.  The next building block in this structure is “emotional capacity.”

photo by sharonpak via PhotoRee

It is important to understand that positive emotional state increases the energy that leads to higher performance, whereas, negative emotions will quickly drain energy.  I will admit that this has been one of the harder components for me to realize in my past.  In my early professional days I would allow frustration to get the better of me dragging me down into a spiral of self-defeating and pessimistic thoughts.  I would let difficult personal and work situations get the better of me and not only would my productivity suffer, but my relationships would often be damaged too.  During this time I would blame my external environment rather than recognizing that the real culprit was staring back at me in the mirror.  Sure, there are definitely environments out there that even the most positive person would agree are going to be difficult, but I truly believe that 90% of how we feel about a situation is choice.  We can choose to take a negative approach and be a complainer or pessimist or we can choose to react in a positive way and make the best of the situation.  Once we realize that the world isn’t going to up and change for us, it becomes much easier to control what we can and that starts with our own emotional reaction.

I still find myself in sticky situations where that little negative voice in the back of my head creeps in and I feel like I have gotten better at recognizing it early on and mastering it before it gets out of control.  There are many things I do to help with this including:

  • Listening to music.  Studies show that music has a strong physiological and emotional effect and can help shift mental activity.  I bet we all can think of songs that make us feel better when we listen to them.
  • Be aware of body language.  It has been shown that if you create the look on the outside that you want to feel on the inside this too can begin to have an impact on your emotional state.  Portraying confidence, happiness, etc. over time will begin to feed a more positive emotional state.
  • Maintaining close relationships.  This is probably the most important one for me and is probably the one that many professionals neglect the most when it comes to their careers.  Devoting time to loved ones and setting clear boundaries between work and home not only increases satisfaction but supplies needed recovery to perform better at work.

Some of these things may seem “hokey” at times but if you take them to heart they can be very helpful.  What are some things that you do to tend to your emotional capacity?

About the author: Heath

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