April 22, 2019

Power Outage: Emotional Energy and Mental Health

 “All learning has an emotional base.” Plato 

“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.”  Brian Tracy

Over the last three weeks, you have learned the importance of mental health and physical energy, increasing the base of your physical energy and growing new energy habits.

With that base of physical energy in alignment, the next step is improving and managing emotional energy. Emotional energy includes aspects like selfconfidence, empathy, trust, forgiveness, optimism, patience and self control.

When emotions are in excess, we are diminished. We know fear often compromises abilities; we know when people are watching TV they are mildly depressed; we know that ability to forgive enhances the depth of relationships and encourages healing. We can grow emotions with practice. Too much empathy and we may neglect ourselves.

How do we train in the emotional area?  Let’s look at patience. “instant everything” has amplified impatience in society. It’s up to each one of us to work on our individual patience.

To improve your patience starts with small steps. For instance, a) go to a store and check out choosing the longest line; b) let several people go in front of you at the checkout; c) buy items in two trips through two cashiers; d) wait for the train instead of going around. At times patience might be viewed as thoughtfulness.

Empathy is  understanding, being aware of and being sensitive to people around you. To improve empathy again starts with small steps. Ask yourself what others might feel in specific situations. You can even do this while watching TV and thinking of what a character may be feeling. You can consider what family or friends might feel when you have a disagreement. Then ask yourself again and again and again until you start to have a variety of ideas.

Learning any new skill takes practice. Repeat until you feel you are getting it and then do it some more. Will this be easy? Probably not! It’s the repetition that will help you improve these emotions.

It is useful to have positive emotions in our repertoire of good habits, ready to use at anytime. Key positive emotions are self-confidence, self-control, realistic optimism and empathy. Positive emotions help us enjoy life and support our energy.

The negative (fear, anger pessimism) have their place too, assisting with survival. In the big picture, these negative emotions are costly and inefficient. Your emotions affect others. Being supportive or in a good mood, helps others be more positive.

As Tony Schwartz points out in The Way we’re Working Isn’t Working, there is evidence that leaders who operate from fear or anger negatively affect the health of those a around them. Wouldn’t you like to forget some of those kinds of work days?

As with physical energy, continued overuse of emotions will equal exhaustion. When normal grief becomes prolonged, without periods of relaxation and enjoyment, depression may follow. Over using empathy can also become a problem. When people become so focused on the feelings and care of others they may neglect themselves.

Positive emotions are strengths to use freely and often. Grow those that are underdeveloped. You will find your energy increases.

Have you visited the Energy Project at www.theenergyproject.com?

Bill