The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Sad

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Sad

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The feeling of sadness helps you to create closure when something ends. If you block (deny, minimize or repress) your feelings of sadness, you can easily slip into a mild depression. Sadness is a normal, natural and necessary feeling that arises when something ends in your life. This could be a relationship, a job, a business, a hope, a dream or even an expectation that’s been left unfulfilled. The feeling of sadness helps the body deal with the endings in your life. It’s the way you process loss and prepare for what is next.

Processing your feelings can be compared to how your body processes food. When you eat, you put food into your mouth (ingest it). Then your body breaks down the food (digests it). Then your blood circulates your digested food to your cells (processes it). And, lastly, the food that can’t be used, is eliminated. You process feelings the same way. When something happens to you, such as the death of a loved one, you are forced to “ingest” feelings of sadness. Then you’ll “digest” the sadness by breaking it down to feel how your loss will affect you. Then you’ll spend a few months grieving your emotional loss by “processing” this change into your life. Lastly, when you are done grieving, you’ll eliminate the remaining sadness so that you can move forward with your life.

When a chapter in your life has come to an end, the feeling of sadness needs to be processed. You will “ingest” the temporary emotional pain and “digest” the reality of the situation. Once these two steps are done, your body will take care of the rest. You may not necessarily know what the next step in your life is going to be, and you probably don’t have everything figured out. However, if you don’t start by facing the reality that something has ended, you will stay stuck in a place of low energy and will have a difficult time moving forward. If you are feeling depressed, judgmental, confused or are blaming others, chances are you are not allowing yourself to feel the sadness around the reality that something has ended in your life. The solution is to give yourself permission to feel the sadness and let your body process it. Then you’ll be freed up to move on to explore the next chapter in your life.

Next week, we’ll look at the feeling of sorrow and how it differs from sadness. Sorrow is a deeper emotional pain than sadness which if you don’t allow yourself to process, can cause you to become emotionally hardened and indifferent to others.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Hurt

When you feel emotionally hurt, your intuitive self is trying to make you aware of the source of your pain, so that you can heal it. If you don’t investigate (a.k.a. dig deeper) into the source of the hurt, you will most likely slip into a cycle of self-pity and go around feeling sorry for yourself. Remember, feelings are guideposts. They contain intelligence. Something within you is trying to get your attention so that you can learn from the experience, grow, heal, and move on as a stronger, more self-mastered person. When you feel hurt, it’s an indication that something under the surface has been awakened (triggered) and needs your attention.

What happened to, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Why do the words and actions of others “hurt” you? The quick answer is, you’ve probably been hurt in the past and didn’t deal with it (process it and heal from it). A lot of hurts happened when we were children and didn’t have the knowledge, power or environment to process incidents that truly hurt us. And, if those hurts weren’t processed and released, guess where they continue to reside… inside! As adults, when we are “wronged” by others, it hits on those old wounds and brings them right back to the surface. Or, at a minimum, the body throws off a smoke alarm and puts us in high alert. If we don’t take time to investigate why we have such strong hurt feelings as a result of the actions of someone else, the old wound will go back underground, and we’ll either repress the new hurt feelings (add them to the pile) or our ego will take over and give us a slew of reasons to feel sorry for ourselves. In any case, the original pain remains because we are still not dealing with it. Let’s look at an example…

I recently felt hurt when someone in my family told me that another family member was talking negatively about me. I felt hurt because I thought the family member that was talking about me had a better opinion of me. Have you heard the saying, “What other people think about me is none of my business?” Well, that’s true. But, I felt hurt nonetheless. After sitting with the hurt feelings for a bit, I realized that this feeling felt familiar. I remember feeling this same kind of feeling when I was growing up, a feeling like I wasn’t loved or appreciated. To add to it, there was also a feeling of abandonment, like someone I should be able to trust, just betrayed me. Let me just say here that if you are feeling betrayed, abandoned, powerless, helpless, inadequate, or unworthy, it’s a definitive sign that the feeling you are feeling today stems from something that happened to you in childhood. Really look at those feelings. They are not feelings that a confident, emotionally mature, psychologically balanced adult would have. Those are thoughts and feelings that a helpless child would have who’s having a tough time making sense of the crazy stuff that’s going on around him or her. Children always make things about them. It’s how they protect themselves. They are not going to question the actions of the adults around them. That’s just not safe to do.

In summary, if you are feeling hurt, some legitimate emotional wound from the past is most likely being triggered. Take some time to sit with the hurt and ask yourself, “What does this feeling remind me of?” It may be a painful investigation, but it’ll be in your best interest in the long-run. The hurt is inside regardless. Isn’t it time to bring it to light and release it?

Next week, we’ll look at the emotional intelligence of the feeling of Sadness.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Worry

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Do you procrastinate?  Procrastination is a sign that you are feeling worried about something.  Worry is the uncomfortable feeling present when you need to take action on the project at hand.  If you don’t use the energy of Worry to motivate you to take action, you will procrastinate and not take the steps necessary for you to succeed.  Once you take the necessary actions and feel well prepared, the feeling of Worry will dissipate quickly.  If you find yourself procrastinating or feeling helpless in a situation, check in with yourself to see if there is some unfinished business that you need to take care of.  Let’s look at an example…

I was halfway through the M.B.A. program.  I was sitting at my desk in my home office.  I had a mid-term paper to write.  I was working full-time and going to school part-time in the evenings.  I had been doing this for two and a half years and had about two years left.  I had put off writing the paper and had only the weekend left to do it.  I was tired from working all week, and didn’t feel like writing this in-depth paper.  I really just wanted to relax and do nothing.  As I was sitting at my desk, I broke down and started crying.  I put my head in my hands and started thinking things like, “I can’t do this… I want to quit… this is too much… it’s too difficult… I can’t do this anymore”.  Not only was I procrastinating during this time, but I was letting myself go into a deep, dark emotional abyss of helplessness and self-pity (which is a good distraction and a good way to continue to procrastinate). I could have been using that time and energy to start writing my paper, so that I could enjoy at least part of the weekend.

It was quite the dramatic scene.  After my pity-party (and wasting an hour of time), I took a deep breath and conceded to write the paper and stay enrolled in the M.B.A. program.  I got the paper done and two years later, graduated with the degree.  Sometimes, you don’t feel like doing the task at hand.  That’s normal.  And, when the Worry feelings get strong (really uncomfortable), it’s just your body’s way of telling you that the deadline is approaching and you still have work to do.  Once you do the work and get prepared, the uncomfortable, worried feelings will go away.  They are there for a purpose… to help you succeed.

Next week, we will look at the feeling of Hurt and what intelligence it’s trying to communicate to us.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Shame

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The feeling of Shame is the emotion that you feel when you do something that doesn’t serve yourself or others well.  The purpose of the uncomfortable feeling of Shame is to help you to own what you did, so that you don’t do it again.  It’s your internal barometer, telling you something is out of whack with your integrity.  In its essence, Shame leads to remorse.  Remorse leads to you learning a lesson (i.e. growing/expanding and not repeating the same action in the future).  There is a difference between Shame and Guilt.  Guilt is self-judgement, otherwise known as “beating yourself up”.  Guilt solves nothing whereas Shame creates remorse which emotionally connects you to the effect that your actions had on yourself or others.  It’s a sense of connectedness with yourself and others at a loving/caring level where you feel empathy as opposed to telling yourself how horrible of a person you are.

It takes courage to feel the shame that arises when you act less than perfectly.  No one likes to feel badly inside.  Let’s look at the example I gave last week.  To recap, I made a totally insensitive comment to an individual.  I was working in a facility which provided assisted living for developmentally disabled individuals.  I had accidently broken something on a resident’s wheelchair. When he asked me why I did that, my 16-year old response was, “Because I am retarded”.  I explained last week that I felt really embarrassed as a result.  Well, the other emotion I felt was shame. 

Let’s look at the ways I could have processed what happened that day.  After I made the comment, I could have:  1) Ignored it and said “who cares”; no one else was in the room.  2) Rationalized it by thinking, “I’m just a teenager and that’s how we talk… big deal!”.  3) Minimized it by thinking, “He probably didn’t understand what I said anyway” or “Maybe he didn’t hear me”.  4) Beat myself up over it.  I could have gone home and called one of my girlfriends and told her what happened, telling her that I am such a horrible person, saying “I can’t go back there.  I’m obviously not cut out for this kind of work”.  5) Own what I did and apologize to the resident.

Which “solution” is best?  I chose to suck it up (a.k.a. actually feel the shame and remorse), admit I was wrong, and apologize.  I don’t know that at age 16 I consciously processed the remorse I felt inside, however, I did learn from the experience.  As you can imagine, from that day forward, I became extremely aware of the words I used when speaking to others.  Even to this day, I really pay attention when I speak about sensitive subjects or about groups of individuals who have a specific designation.  The benefit that resulted from the shame I felt that day was an increase in my social intelligence.

Note: Feelings arise in order to tell you that something is out of harmony.  In this case, the crappy feeling (shame) only lasted a few minutes until I apologized.  Then I felt better and was back in balance.  Emotions are supposed to blow in (think “in motion”) just long enough to guide you as to what action to take to get back in balance.  In this case, shame “blew in” for good reason.  And, it “blew out” as soon as I apologized.

Next week, we’ll take a look at the feeling of Worry and what its purpose is.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Embarrassed

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What good could possibly come from feeling embarrassed?  All feelings have intelligence and serve as guideposts to tell you something about yourself.  When you feel embarrassed, it helps you develop humility which is a sought-after leadership character trait.  I read recently that humility is knowing that you are nothing more and nothing less than the other people around you.  (Just think of the vibe you would send out if you possessed this character trait and the positive results you would see in return.)  I’m going to give an example of an embarrassing situation from my adolescent years.  I’m using this example because I’ll never forget it… It was that embarrassing!

At age 16, I got a job as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) at a local health care facility in my hometown.  This particular facility specialized in providing care for the developmentally disabled.  It was divided into four distinct units/floors.  The units were divided up based on the level of care the residents needed on a daily basis.  The floor I worked on was for residents who needed care with daily living activities.  They were not quite to a self-care level that they could live on their own.  Part of my job was to provide some of these daily living activities like transferring the individual into their wheelchair from their bed or putting away their laundry into dresser drawers.  Each individual had their own unique abilities and disabilities, and each individual had their own story as to how they came to live there.

One day, I was in one of the resident’s rooms.  I had just finished putting his clean laundry away.  He was lying in his bed, and we were having a conversation.  He was probably in his early 30’s.  He was a youthful, smart individual with extensive physical disabilities.  His wheelchair was next to his bed.  I decided to sit in his wheelchair while talking to him. (Remember, I was 16 years old.)  While we were conversing, I was maneuvering around in his wheelchair and ended up messing something up on it.  I think the foot pedal fell off.  The resident saw what I did and right away asked, “Why did you do that?”.  My response (which to this day I still remember like it happened yesterday) was, “Because I am retarded”.  It was the 80’s, and this was a term that we would throw around regularly in conversation with our peers.  But, once those words came out of my mouth, I was completely mortified and wished that I was dead, right there on the spot.  The milli-seconds after, once I realized what I had said, was a blur.  There was no way that I was going to be able to fix this.  I remember quickly trying to minimize/rationalize by thinking, “Maybe he didn’t hear me” or “I hope he knows that I didn’t mean it that way”.  But, the truth of the matter was no amount of rationalizing or minimizing would take away what I did and my complete embarrassment.  I ended up apologizing to him, saying that I didn’t know why I said that.  I owned it which was probably the best thing to do in the situation.  But, it was one of the most humiliating moments in my life.

If we don’t feel and own our feelings of embarrassment, we’ll feel like we always need to be perfect which is an unachievable objective.  We are human.  We make mistakes.  Owning them is what gives us the character virtue of humility.  Humility and self-acceptance are the benefits of the feeling of embarrassment.

Another feeling I felt that day was Shame.  Next week, we’ll look at the feeling of Shame and what intelligence it has to offer us.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC. We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives. For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.

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