The Secret Life of Emotions at Work

climbing treeToday I was out on a hike in the oak-studded hills of Northern California. After the unrelenting rains of a late winter, it felt great to be out on an open-space trail. As I was ascending on a steep trail overlooking a valley of conifers, I saw something moving in the branches of a tree below. It was someone’s adult-sized dangling legs. I saw him kick out briefly then shimmy further up the tree, no doubt towards a better view. Observing this, I realized that I was a witness to his secret retreat. It was so sweet. For that moment, I had a god-like vantage point of watching the very human drive towards needing solitude and a respite…the need to go climb a tree and just “be.”

But tomorrow is a work day, and there’s very little opportunity for personal retreat in the world of business. We all put on our best “game face,” and set about our daily practicalities. When one is fully engaged with that, it can feel satisfying…even exhilarating.

Yet what about those days when you’re not engaged? Over the last week I’ve heard from some people that are really going through *stuff.* Major issues, like the death of a parent, a serious diagnosis, the heartbreak of a relationship coming to an end. Our business culture doesn’t really allow for emotionally-down days to exist. We’re supposed to be in charge of our emotions, somehow able to maintain steady productivity no matter what. It’s so unrealistic and fragmented to keep such an essential part of our nature “a secret.”

If this speaks to you right now, let me share with you some of the strategies I’ve learned. When my mom died 5 years ago, I really had to sort out how to manage work while going through intense emotional shifts.

Gauge your emotional energy level and complete tasks that are appropriate for that level.

For example, if you’re in deep grief with intermittent crying spells, try to focus on your behind-the-scenes tasks. This is not the time to be out on center-stage (if you can help it.) But if you give up on all work (and you’re self-employed) you could end up sinking into a hole that will make you feel worse later. So sort those receipts, clean out that email in-box, work on tweaking your website. If you really *do* have to be “on” for your work, then just fulfill the minimum of commitments that you *must do.* Show up for those, but don’t take on any new ones! Energy-appropriate tasks are the ones that move you forward towards your goals, but still allow enough space for you to be “just how you are” at this time.

I’d love to hear comments from you. What do you do when you’ve got work to do, yet your emotions are pulling you in other directions?

Peace be with you now, and always.

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About the Author

Jaya Savannah - Chief Inspiration Officer. Strategy Coach for Holistic Businesses. Trainer, speaker, and writer. Spiritually aware, yet street smart. Elephant lover.