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Regret: An emotion I misunderstood. Until Now.

Regret is an emotion that, like anger, has gotten a lot of bad press.

The image we often see is of a tattoo on a buffed arm that reads “No Regrets”.

Or, if you are into humor…”No Regerts”.

In a new book, Daniel Pink writes about the emotion of regret and notes that when you ask people if they have regrets, they will answer that they do not. If, however, you ask them if there are things they did (or failed to do) that they wish they had done differently, they will  say “yes”.

This is, in fact, the essence of regret.

The message of regret is, indeed, that you either did something, or failed to take some action, that led to an outcome that you strongly wish had progressed differently than it did.

This could involve an action you took such as

  • selling the stock just before it split and hit a new high
  • losing a bunch of money because you got scammed
  • “acting-out” and destroying an important relationship

or

It could be a missed opportunity to..

  • get an education
  • tell someone you loved them before they died
  • reestablish a relationship that ended badly
  • start a business
  • buy that house

You get the idea.

The emotion of regret is often labelled as a negative emotion because it hurts.

An example from my own life..

When I was in graduate school, I was home for vacation and my mom was taken to the hospital. I had visited her in the hospital and was going to visit her a second time.  I was outside the hospital in my car and decided that I would run an errand and then go and visit her.  She died while I was on my errand and I was both not there for her and unable to say my final good-byes.

It is important to note that the “errand” was not at all critical.

I, maladaptively, held on to my regret for many years.

I’ll explore my regret in this situation below.

My issue with regret stemmed from my belief that the emotion could only lead to a downward spiraling rabbit hole from which there was no escape.

My self-talk regarding my mom went like this…

  • I screwed up. I was not there for my mom in her moment of need.
  • My actions led to a bad situation which I can’t change.  She died and I will never be able to comfort her and tell her how much I loved her.
  • I should have  made a different decision. I knew that the errand was not significant but I “bought” my rationalization. I acted in a cowardly manner.
  • My actions will always haunt me because I can’t change what I did.
  • There must be something wrong with me that led me to screw up. I was in grad school and knew about rationalization.  I did not acknowledge my own inability to cope with my mom dying. I should have acted differently.
  • I screwed up because I was unable to deal with my anxiety.  I will always be haunted by my guilt because there is no way for me to make it  right.

Experiencing an emotional maelstrom involving self-criticism (guilt), self-denigration (shame) and being stuck (regret) was horrible. But, it is exactly this negative emotional soup that is associated with the emotion of regret and that gives it its bad reputation.

As a Psychologist with the Youth Authority, I had 5 young incarcerated women all of whom had killed their children.  I need to say upfront that while I always maintained that they were responsible for their actions, I needed to help them deal with their regret so that I could help them grow and develop into healthy adults once they left the institution.

In order to help them and deal with my own regret, I developed and embraced  the idea of IWBNI which allowed me and my clients to “eliminate” the emotion of regret by approaching the event as an IWBNI (It Would Be Nice If).

Viewing what I did through the lens of an IWBNI solved two issues which, to me, embodied the worst aspects of regret..

  1. We (My clients and I) screwed up.
  2. There was nothing that could be done to make it right.

How IWBNI works.

Noting that “It would be nice if” the (screw-up) had never happened…

  1. tacitly acknowledges and validates that it DID happen
  2. detaches the “screw-up” from any attached self-recrimination
  3. puts the undesired outcome both in perspective and in the past
  4. allows us to acknowledge and move past whatever was done and the negative outcome it elicited and
  5. allows us to learn from our actions.

While using IWBNI’s, per se, is still a viable and effective approach to events which elicit regret, I now believe that regret ought to be considered a valid emotion that can be mastered like any other emotion.

I’ll explain.

I paid too little attention to the learning potential of regret and it is this potential  that is the key to using regret as a strategic emotional tool.

It is important to note here that there are two categories of regrettable actions.

  1. Actions you have no opportunity to change.
  2. Actions you can do something to reverse the past and create a new outcome.

Category 2 was easy.  If I could change my future behavior, great, regret could be strategically deployed as motivating me to avoid future similar screw-ups.

I, however, had viewed the emotion of regret only in terms of the first category.

Indeed, if you could not do anything to change, or reverse, what happened, I reasoned that you were powerless regarding the focus of your regret and, therefore, your only choice was to validate the emotion, accept your actions, and move on.

To put it another way, the emotion of regret informed me that I screwed up.  Okay.  But, it also reminded me that there was nothing I could do to change what I’d done.  Therefore, there was nothing to learn. Consequently, regret could not be strategically deployed.

I was mistaken.

My epiphany about regret was that you could, indeed, learn from both categories of situations.

And, to the extent that you could learn from your actions, regret could become an emotion you could master.

To utilize regret as a strategic tool, there are 4 steps…

  • Acknowledgment— IWBNI
  •  Context —The BRR
  •  Compassion and Understanding—Self-forgiveness
  •  Consolidation and Moving on—List of what you learned

Step #1 Acknowledgment

As I discussed above, viewing what you regret through the IWBNI lens allows to acknowledge and validate the situation without judgement.  You may still judge yourself and I will address that below.  The IWBNI, per se, simply acknowledges what happened and the truth that you wish it had not happened without any inherent placement of blame.

Once you have acknowledged the situation and your actions, you are ready to progress to step #2 which involves understanding what you did.

Step #2 The Basic Relationship Rule (BRR)

As I have discussed in other posts, the BRR states that everyone in every situation does the best they can given their Model of the World and their skill sets.

While I don’t have room here to go into the BRR in depth, its relevance to the emotion of regret is that you now have a context to understand the actions you took that you now regret. What was your understanding about your situation, the perspective you took in the situation and the resources you had available to you to deal with that situation?

Now that you have acknowledged and gains some insight into what you did, you are ready for step #3 which involves compassion.

Step #3 Compassion

In step #3, you approach yourself as you would a good friend who did something you did not like.  You express compassion toward yourself and you forgive yourself for what you did.

Self-forgiveness, like forgiving others, does not mean justifying what you did  or letting yourself off the hook, per se, for the regrettable actions you took.  Self-forgiveness simply communicates that it did happen and self-blame is no longer needed.

You can let go of your judgement.

Now that your actions have been acknowledged, understood and removed from self-blame, you are ready for step #4.

Step 4  Consolidation and Moving on

The final step involves listing what you have learned about your actions and making a plan to act differently should a similar situation arise (if this is possible) or if a situation that resembles (in any way) what originally took place happens again.

This is you consolidating what regret has painfully reminded you that you to do.

Once you have consolidated what you have learned, you are ready to move on.

What did I learn from my regret?

Whenever I am in a situation in which I know I need to act but I do not or I rationalize, I will step back, take a deep breath, reassess what is actually going on and what I am trying to avoid, and do what I know needs to be done.

I have mastered my regret.

Indeed, I still regret not going up to my mom’s room to be with her in her last moments on earth but I do not feel guilt and, in several situations, I have taken action I might otherwise have avoided because it didn’t feel absolutely right.

 

Mastering Grief as a Strategic Emotion

Grief is an emotion that is well known but little understood.

Today’s post is designed to give you both insight into this important emotion and, should you find yourself in its “grip”, hopefully give you some suggestions for mastering your grief as a strategic tool.

Grief is an important emotion because its purpose is…

  • to focus our attention on what we have lost,
  • prepare us to effectively deal with that loss, and
  • allow us to grow beyond the loss and get on with our lives.

Grief

  • Grief is the emotion we experience when we experience a significant loss.
  • The message of grief is that we have sustained a significant loss and that we need to withdraw from others so that we can heal.
  • Grief, as an emotion, hurts.

Grief and Pain

The experience of grief can involve..

  • tears that seem to come on their own
  • a sense of emptiness inside
  • an inability to function normally because we are consumed by a sense of unresolvable loss

Other feelings which can go along with grief

  • sadness
  • anxiety
  • guilt

Two significant Grief myths

  • It is important to be “strong” (whatever this means) in the face of grief
  • Moving on with your life means forgetting about your loss

So, let’s dive in..

If you never experience grief, I hope it is because you have never experienced a significant (however, you define this) loss.  If so, I am thrilled for you.

It is, however, more likely that you will experience such a loss in your lifetime and you have at least two ways to approach the grief that accompanies the loss.

The unhealthy way…   suppress the feelings, power through it, and keep going.  This denial is equivalent to looking at the growing red spot on your skin, ignoring it because you don’t want to know more about it or don’t believe in skin cancer, and, down the road, having to deal with your cancer when it finally reaches a point where you can no longer avoid it.

The healthy way.. mastering the grief by validating it and working through it including experiencing the pain and the “symptoms” associated with the pain.

Pain explained.

A few years ago, a close family friend “lost” his wife after some 40 years of marriage.  They were high school sweethearts, got married and spent their whole adult life together as a couple.

When his wife died, he felt as if an important part of him had been wrenched away leaving a void which could not be filled.

He was right (almost).

An important part of him had been wrenched away and there was a void. However, while he would never be able to replace his wife of 40 years (nor would he want to), he would learn to heal the void.

While he expected to miss (grieve for) his wife, he was blindsided and totally (but intermittently) immobilized by  pain, tears and irreconcilable emotion.

There are at least two important elements to understanding the pain of grief.

I. The pain he experienced happened because of, and was a direct reflection of, his incredible 40 years of marriage.

In other words, the amount of pleasure he experienced in his marriage (however, he would define this term and what it included) was the “cause” of the pain he experienced when his wife died.

If the marriage had not been a source of pleasure, the ending, or loss, of that relationship would not have been that painful.

So, one important question he had to address (directly or indirectly) at some point was…

Do the benefits (love, companionship, etc) he gained from the marriage outweigh the cost (pain) he experienced when his wife died?

Or, to put it another way..

If he was given the choice to go back in time and not marry his future wife, would he do it in order to avoid the pain he felt when she died?

When he was ready, he acknowledged that the upside (benefits) of his marriage far outweighed the relatively minimal downside (his pain) and he wouldn’t change anything.

 Note: Some people do choose not to get involved in a serious relationship in order to avoid having to experience this pain. While it has consequences, this is a valid choice.

II. His ability to relive, revisit and relish the memories of his wife and the 40 years he considers himself both blessed and very fortunate to have been able to spend with her could not happen until he experienced and worked through his pain.

This is an often overlooked component of the pain of grief and, by the way, is an argument for listening to, validating, and mastering grief.

Denying the pain of one’s grief does not eliminate the pain.  It may mute the degree of discomfort you experience with your guilt.

What happens it this.

Every time he tried to revisit a fond memory, he would get a jolt of pain.  Our friend would cry uncontrollably when these memories came up.

And, they seemed to come up almost spontaneously and unconnected to anything that was going on with him in the moment.

Mastering grief as a strategic emotion…

The message of grief is that you have experienced a significant loss.  Grief prepares you to withdraw and begin healing.

You master your grief when you take all the time you need to validate the emotion and all the experiences that accompany the emotion.  You withdraw as much as you can from your regular activities so you can experience the pain.  You avoid judging yourself and your actions (like crying, feeling weak and vulnerable, etc) and treat yourself with the same compassion as you would a close friend going through his (or her) grief.

The process..

As I explained to our friend, when you allow yourself to experience both the pain and the memories, you validate the loss, the emotion, and your willingness to grow through it.

What happens, over time, is that the pain subsides and you are able to enjoy your memories.  The pain may be experienced as sadness at the loss but the happiness which accompanies the memories far outweighs the sadness.

In addition, over time, the emptiness gives way to an acknowledgement that the relationship was deep, satisfying and real and that the memories which retrieve that relationship can never be lost.  The person may be gone, the experiences are not.

As you master your grief and grow though it, you will find that you are increasingly ready to reengage with the world and maybe even consider new relationships.

I recall a story told to me by a deeply religious friend.

His wife contracted cancer.  She didn’t want to do radiation or chemo so he and his wife changed their diets and lifestyle together until the cancer eventually took her.

He grieved for his wife for several years and didn’t date.

One night he had a dream in which his wife appeared to him and told him that she was safe with God and it was time for him to move on and begin dating.

He took her advice, started dating and eventually remarried.

Now, whether you believe that his wife actually spoke to him in his dreams or his dreams reflected his own growth and he was “talking” to himself is not critical.  The focus of the dream was that he had reached a point in his growth where he was able to both enjoy fond memories of his deceased wife and begin to form new ones with his new wife.

He never forgot his first wife and is currently happily married.

Our friend followed a similar course of action and returned to a very fulfilling life.

This is mastering one’s grief.

 

 

Two Fundamental Principles Which Underlie a successful Marriage Part 2

In this post, I discuss the second fundamental principle of a successful marriage.

II. What is the Basic Relationship Rule and how do you apply it to strengthen your marriage?

The Basic Relationship Rule states:

Everyone always does the best they can (in their relationships) given their Psychological State, their Model of the world and their Skill Sets.

The Basic Relationship Rule serves two purposes:

On the one hand, it  provides you with a guide to understand your partner (the focus of the first principle).

Secondly, it highlights the three  elements which underly and give rise to your partner’s (and your own) actions. Understanding and shedding light on your partner’s Psychological State, their Model of the World and their Skill sets provide you with an opportunity to better relate to them and, if the situation presents itself, help them make some changes that will benefit them, you and your marriage.

Let’s dive a bit deeper.

There are six elements to the “rule”…

  1. It applies to everyone.
  2. It is always operative.
  3. It states that our “best” is situational and based on three factors.
  4. The first factor is  our Psychological State.
  5. The second factor is our Model of the World
  6. The third factor is our Skill Sets.

Elements #1 and #2

Elements #1 and #2 emphasize that, whenever we engage in an interaction that is important us, the Basic Relationship Rule can be used to understand the actions we (and our partners) are taking.

Hence, it applies to everyone in all “critical”situations.

Element #3

Element #3 is, perhaps, the most difficult to accept.

The issue here is that it doesn’t seem reasonable that one’s inappropriate behavior is the best possible action in the situation.

WELL, IN FACT, IT ISN’T THE BEST POSSIBLE!

It is the best we can do in the situation.

Think about it for a minute.

In any important interaction, why would you do anything less than the optimum you can do to deal with the situation that you are facing.

If you are fully engaged in doing what you believe you need to do to impact  the situation in which you find yourself, then this is your best, in that situation.

The same is true for the other person in your interaction.

While, clearly what they’ve doneit is not the best possible, it is the best action available to them (or the best they can do) in that situation.

Which, then, begs the question……

If it is not the best possible, and you (or they) are motivated to do whatever is needed to deal with the situation, then something must be impacting or impeding what you are doing that makes it less than optimum.

Yes!

And this takes us to Elements #4, #5 and #6 each of which sets limits on and give rise to the actions you are taking.

Element #4

Your Psychological State refers to any strong emotions such as sadness, anxiety, or anger which might impact how you (or they) interact with others.

Your emotional state is determined by how you are interpreting the situation in which you find yourself.  The message of the emotion informs you of your interpretations. Or it informs you of how they are viewing their interaction with you.

If you are angry, you are viewing the situation as involving a threat you need to go to war to resolve.

If you are anxious, you are viewing the situation as involving a possible future threat which needs to be resolved or avoided.

If you are sad, your are viewing the situation as involving a loss from which you need to remove yourself so that you can heal.

Think of your Psychological State as a filter through which you are viewing your situation.

The issue with your Psychological State is that you may not realize that you are viewing  the World through this filter.

Element #5

Your “Model of the World” is the lens through which you are viewing, interpreting, making sense of, and deciding what to do in your current situation.

Your Model develops over time and includes (among other things):

  • your self-image
  • your past experiences with similar interactions
  • how you view your partner and interpret what they do/say
  • what you assume (or expect) to be true about the situation
  • your goals

The “rightness” or “wrongness” of your Model is not an issue here.

The extent to which your Model helps, or hinders, you in your interactions with your partner to resolve the conflict is the critical point.

If you put on a pair of reading glasses, everything you look at beyond your book is blurred. The glasses are blurring your vision. Your Model of the World can also blur (or distort) what you are looking at and the interpretations you make.

This is a link to a previous post in which I discuss the concept of one’s “Model” in more detail.

Understanding Others and Ourselves to Build (or improve) our relationships. A 4-part series. Part 3: Their Model

Element #6

One’s skill sets are the abilities each individual in the relationship brings to the situation that they can access when they need to decide what they will do to “move the relationship forward”.

These skill sets include..

  • how they handle emotions (emotional intelligence skills)
  • their level of self-control (intrapersonal skills),
  • how they interact with others (interpersonal skills)
  • how they analyze a given situation (critical thinking skills)
  • how they approach solving problems (problem solving skills)
  • how they communicate with others (communication skills)
  • how they deal with perceived risk (risk management skills)

Your skill sets are the behaviors you have learned over your life span to deal with different types of situations.  Skill sets are influenced by different environments including family, work, school, the military and so forth and become habitual over time through practice.

Understanding Others and Ourselves to Build (or improve) our relationships. A 4-part series. Part 4: Skill Sets

If your skill sets are not adequate to handle what is going on, you will do things that may be inappropriate, ineffective, or even damaging to your efforts to resolve the conflict.

Think about North Korea for a moment.  This country believes it has very few “skill sets” which allow it to interact with the rest of the world.  It does have nuclear weapons.  Consequently, everything it does is filtered through the lens of threatening nuclear annihilation.

The bottom line is this..

In working to understand, maintain, or strengthen your marriage,  start by implementing the two fundamental principles that underlie all relationships.

Once you have done this, the specific “techniques” advocated in the lists various sites offer on the internet will make more sense and become more relevant.

Oh, and by the way, these same principles apply at work, as a volunteer or dealing with “support people”.

 

 

 

Two FUNDAMENTAL Principles of a Successful Marriage Part 1

This is the first of a two part series on two fundamental principles which underlie a successful marriage.

I discuss the first principle in this post and the second principle in two weeks.

If you google successful marriage, you will find links including:

Ten Secrets to a Successful Marriage – Focus on the Family

  • If you do what you always do, you will get same result
  • Change your mind, change your marriage.
  • Marriage is often about fighting the battle between your ears.
  • A crisis doesn’t mean the marriage is over.

 Five Keys to a Successful Marriage

  • Communicate. 
  • Laugh always. Go ahead, fart in bed. …
  • Respect one another. …
  • Don’t go to bed angry. …
  • Check your ego at the door.

The Keys to a Successful Marriage University of Rochester Medical Center

  • Tell your spouse that you’re thankful for having him or her in your life
  • Make time for you two as a couple
  • Plan for some personal time
  • Understand that it’s ok to disagree
  • Build trust
  • Learn to forgive

All of these points are important, worthy of consideration, and, if implemented, would contribute to maintaining  a successful marriage.

Indeed, maintaining a good attitude, building trust, and practicing good communication skills, forgiveness  and mutual respect,  are critical contributors to a successful marriage.

But, I believe these lists are incomplete as there are at least two fundamental principles which underlie, provide a context for, give rise to and strengthen each item on these lists.

The two Principles…

I. Steven Covey’s 5th habit of highly successful people:

Seek first to understand and then to be understood.  

II. The Basic Relationship Rule:

 Everyone always does the best they can (in their relationships) given their Psychological State, their Model of the world and their Skill Sets.

I. SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND AND THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD

The critical element here is the counterintuitive suggestion that each partner, in a conflict, focus their attention on their partner before they present or defend your own needs.

This principle is counterintuitive because, when we are faced with conflict, our first reaction is to defend ourselves.

Indeed, each partner might maintain that their needs are equally as important as their partner’s and should not be ignored or subordinated (deemed less important or valuable) to those of other  partner.

And, each partner would be correct.

But, this is not what the principle is advocating.

It is important to note that I am making an assumption. In the context of a successful marriage,   both partners are committed…

  • to each other,
  • to the marriage, and
  • to themselves

So, what does Seek first to understand and then to be understood mean in the context of maintaining a successful marriage?

The principle advocates that you attempt to focus on your partner’s needs BEFORE you focus on your own.

Again, I must point out that you are neither ignoring nor demeaning your own needs in any way!

When you focus on understanding what your partner is trying to communicate, you accomplish three important goals.

  1. First if all, you communicate that you care about your partner and that he, or she, is important to you.  This, ultimately can strengthen your relationship and contribute to resolving the conflict.
  2. Secondly, you have gained important knowledge about your partner that may contribute to more open communication as your relationship grows.
  3. Thirdly, you may find that you are able to resolve the conflict with an intervention that doesn’t even involve your immediate needs.  In this case, it becomes a win-win proposition.

It is also important to note that you have not lost anything.  You still have the option of returning to your needs and working to insure that what is important to you gets the validation that is needed.

I discuss the second principle in my next post on April 6.

 

A New Podcast-Different Topics

These are links to my recent podcast on PositiveTalkRadio. In this interview, I discuss topics which were not addressed in the podcast I noted in my last post.

I’ve included these podcasts because some of you may prefer to get your information in a video or audio format rather than reading it.  If this is your preference, click on the Contact Me button above and leave me a message.

Audio only...

https://www.positivetalkradio.net/ed-daube-the-emotion-doctor/

Video

https://www.positivetalkradio.net/videos/ptr-ed-daube-phd-the-emotions-doctor/

Here are some specific issues which might interest you:

11:47 The problem with asking “why” questions and how “what” may be better.                                                                                                                                          19:10 The value of apologizing                                                                                          20:28 Personal responsibility and the challenge of believing that emotions control us.                                                                                                                                                 23:42 Jealousy
24:34 Hate
28:23 Fear and anxiety
32:10 Emotions gone astray and two issues… immigrants and the lady who called police on a black man walking his dog
37:34 Healthy disagreements with a spouse.

This is a link to a recent podcast I did on emotions with time stamps.

In this podcast, we discuss how I became interested in the topic of emotions, what emotions are and other informative issues.

Here is a summary (First number is minutes into the interview. Second number is seconds both of which are approximate):

3:47. Where did my passion for emotions come from.

6:08 How to understand the emotions cycle.

8:46 Understanding men, women and emotions.  Men default to anger, women default to sadness.

14:26 Basic Relationship Rule

17:12. Emotions inform and motivate.  The next step is mastery.

20:24 Develop new emotional habits.

24:38 My best success stories

28:23 Working with incarcerated young women

30:02 Anxiety

35:00 Sadness and IWBNI’s

31:00 Happiness

41:56. Primary and Secondary emotional progressions

52:25. Explore the blog

52:43. What would I tell a younger me?

54:47. Final Words.

Enjoy.

Jimbo Paris Podcast

How can we bounce back after dealing with a toxic boss?

This is an expanded version of a post on LinkedIn. The original was limited to a specific number of characters and, therefore, was basically a summary.

……………

Given the description of the boss as toxic, we can assume that his (or her) actions are inappropriate, over the top, inconsistent, abusive or irrational.

Let me start by saying that there are two scenarios.

1. If you can leave the situation and find a new job, do it.

2. If you can’t leave the situation and have to “deal” with the boss, I have some suggestions.

The critical issue for me, as The Emotions Doctor, involves the emotions that the actions of a toxic boss can elicit in an employee.

In other words, how do you feel after interacting with a toxic boss?

It is important to note that the boss does not make you feel anything.  He does not create these feelings in you. 

Here is how it all works…

  • He creates a situation based on his inappropriate actions.
  • You view this situation through the lens of your experience.  This is your perception.
  • What you feel follows directly from how you perceive the situation.

Because your feelings follow from your perception and you can choose how you view the situation, you have the power to change both your perception and your feelings.

Please note that I am not blaming the employee for the feelings they experience.  The boss is always responsible for his toxic actions.  

The problem is that employees have a tendency to blame themselves.

The reason for this is that the employee may assume that the boss has a reason for acting as he does.  That reason must be the employee or what the employee has done.

If the boss’s actions are by definition toxic, the employee is not responsible for what the boss does. The employee is responsible for any action they have taken.

So, here is the solution..

Notice what you are feeling.

This could include anger, anxiety, sad, belittled, abused, mistreated, hopeless, helpless, worthless, alone, or depressed.

Take a deep breath and, when you are away from the boss, attempt to take a hard look at your situation.

Attempt to honestly assess whether you did anything wrong in your work setting.  The reason for this is that there may be a reason your boss is upset.  There is never a justification for being toxic.  If you have made a mistake, you can apologize and attempt to correct it.

Once you have decided that your boss is out of line, you need to forgive your boss.  

Forgiveness does not mean, as most people think, that you are absolving your boss of his responsibility for his actions.  Not in the least!  Forgiveness means that you are separating yourself emotionally from your boss.

Assuming that you, for now, are staying in a work setting with a toxic boss, your forgiving him frees you from being impacted by his toxicity and allows you to continue to function at your job.  Someone once said that, in situations such as this, “The bees (your boss) keep swarming but their stingers have been removed so they are no longer a threat.”

Next, you might need to forgive yourself.

“What”, you say, “I did nothing wrong.”

Correct.

But, you might have a tendency to get on your own case for letting your toxic boss get to you and disrupt your life.

When you forgive yourself, you are simply acknowledging your emotional humanity and that you were emotionally influenced by this boss.  This is very understandable.

And, by the way, while you are learning to separate yourself emotionally from your boss, you may still find that you react to him.  Relax, this will continue to happen for a while.

Once you become emotionally free of him, you will be able to listen to what he says, NOT HOW HE SAYS IT (his toxicity) and if he says anything that is informative to you, you can use this to improve yourself until you can move on.

There isn’t room here to explain all the emotions your might be experiencing.  However, I have discussed all of these feelings in detail on this blog.  You can access all of my 200+ posts by category and title by clicking on the Index tab above

Dealing with a toxic boss will take time but it can be done. 

Mastering Emotions for Entrepreneurs and others— My second interview.

This is the a link to my second interview directed at entrepreneurs but useful to anyone with emotions with Chris Gunkle.

Following up on my earlier interview, posted here on 2/23/22, I discussed….

  • the difference between fear and anxiety,
  • spent some time on the topics of “failure anxiety” and “success anxiety”,
  • reviewed a more adaptive definition of “failure” and
  • provided a strategy for getting around highly subjective and negative self-talk in order to access and maximize the value of what you already know and the experiences you have.

The podcast is audio only but, as before, it is worth the 20 minutes or so to listen.

Here is the link:

Surviving The Emotional Side Of The Entrepreneurial Journey With Ed Daube

What You Can Do in the Next 48 hours to Begin Mastering Your Emotions as Strategic Tools.

This is a follow-up to my last post in which I dove into the topic of mastering your emotions.

Near the end of the podcast, the host asked me a question which caught my attention and peeked my interest…

What is one thing our audience can do in the next 48 hours to get on the path to success in mastering their emotions?

The answer I came up with was..

Begin the process of emotional mastery with three doable steps:

This, however, is not a satisfactory answer and needs further explanation.

So, I continued…

  • There are three steps, involving two strategic questions and an easy decision, which you can take, starting now, that will put you on the path to emotional mastery.
  • None of these steps are difficult.
  • All of these steps take a little bit of effort on your part.

The three steps are…

  1. Ask yourself this question: “What will change for the better when I learn to master my emotions as tools?” 
  2. Take a “going to the doctor or your car mechanic” approach to your emotions and ask yourself this question: “What emotion is most problematic for me?”
  3. Take action: Go to the Index tab on this blog, click on that emotion, read whatever post catches your attention and begin to follow the suggestions in the post.

The steps “explained”….

Steps 1 and 2 involve asking yourself a strategically focused question.

The heart of each of these questions is an assumption which will give you important information you want to have and which engages the brain as a solution seeking machine.

As I’ve noted in other posts which talk about the power of questions, when you focus your brain on a  question, it will give you an answer.

Sometimes, you ask your brain a question the answer to which you really do not want. As an example, you never want to ask yourself the question: “How could I be so (stupid, blind, weak, etc)?” because your brain will give you multiple reasons why you are so stupid, blind, or weak .

Is this really what you want to know?  Probably not!

You can, however, ask your brain for information you want.  So, if you made a “dumb” mistake, you might ask: “How could I have approached this situation differently so as to produce  (a better outcome)?”

You see the difference?

Note: Your brain will continue to seek an answer to your question until it finds it.  I have used this “technique” to problem solve in many varied situations including writing papers in grad school, working on clinical questions in my practice, answering questions on Quora, and so forth. 

The “technique” involves asking yourself the question before you fall asleep and then expect an answer sometime in the future.  Keep asking the question each day until you get an answer.

Step #1

The assumption in Step #1 is that learning to master your emotions will bring about desired change. It is this “change” that will motivate you to pursue learning how to master your emotions as tools.

Note: It is not important at this point that you believe in this change.  In fact, it is entirely possible that you do not.  Phrasing the question this way, bi-passes your beliefs.

Once you ask yourself this question about the “positive changes” you can expect from mastering your emotions, you will begin to experience the answer.

A thought may occur to you along the lines of.. “I wonder if I will feel more in control of my life when I master my emotions?” or ” It really would be nice if my anger didn’t lead me to embarrass myself.”

The critical point here is that you take these thoughts seriously and not dismiss them.

Again, you are embarking on a process and, at this point, whether these outcomes will happen or not is less important than the real possibility that they might happen.

I suggest that, if it is possible, you write down these thoughts.

Two things happen when you write them down.

  1. It makes these thoughts real.
  2. You have the opportunity to review them later.

Viewing these possible outcomes as desirable, should they occur, will motivate you to continue learning how to master your emotions as strategic tools.

Step #2

You probably already know the answer to this question before you ask it.

Yes, but ask it anyway as the answer to which emotion is most problematic may surprise you.

Indeed, you may think that anger is your main issue but you may not be aware of an emotion that underlies anger such as anxiety, hurt, inadequacy or sadness.

Again, accept all the answers as potentially valid and write them down.  You will come back to them in Step #3.

I mentioned going to the doctor or your car mechanic” approach  for Step #2.  What I mean here is this….

When you take your car to the mechanic (or your body to  your doctor), you are asked about “Why are you here?” (or something similar).  You then must focus on the main issue of concern.  While other stuff may be going on, you focus on the issue that is most troubling.

I recently went to my doctor because it was uncomfortable for me to sleep on my right side.  It was this issue that I focussed on with my doctor who recommended physical therapy.  The other minor aches and pains I have experienced were not brought up.

When he asked if there were any other concerns, we did have a conversation.

Step #3

This critical step is the culmination of Steps #1 and #2.

This is where you educate yourself by learning about the emotion that is most problematic for you.

Once you are informed about emotions, in general, the emotional mastery cycle, and the specific emotion that is problematic for you, you have completed the beginning phases of mastering your emotions.

Now, you can move on to Step #4 which is to make a plan to master your specific emotion and follow your plan.

Keep in mind that you are learning a new habit of emotional mastery.  And, like any new habit, it takes time and practice and you will make mistakes along the way.

A word about “success” and “failure”….

John Maxwell defined success as falling down Y times and getting up X times where X is a larger number that Y.

As long as you “get up” (take responsibility for your actions, forgive yourself for your mistakes, make any necessary corrections in your behavior) more times than you “fall down” (make a mistake, get “off course”, or fall short of your goals), your success in mastering your emotions is almost guaranteed.

If you continue to have difficulties with your emotions, you may have to get professional help.