Emotions are not facts

Last Sunday I decided to go into the office at 7.30 am to smash out some work without any interruptions (revisit Kate’s recent blog about working too much).

I had had a difficult week. I’d had a week dealing with a lot of upset people. One group of people had been particularly unhappy with some of my findings regarding their culture and the way in which they treated each other. They started slinging barbs at me too.

I was feeling battered and a bit vulnerable. I was tired and probably needed a day off; not a day in the office.

I parked my car by the back door of my office and there was a scruffy looking man sitting in a daggy van outside the building.  I noticed him getting out of the van as I entered the building. I started to feel a bit nervous.

I work from a large co-working space and I was the only person in the office at the time. I had been working away for about 30 mins when someone started knocking on the back door. I couldn’t see out and check who it was; so in my stressed out and vulnerable state I decided that it was someone coming to get me and I didn’t let them in. About 20 minutes after that they knocked again. I turned the volume up on my headphones. I sent a text message to my family telling them that I was scared and had decided not to open the door.

About 30 minutes after that the back door opened and three scruffy looking men walked in, including the guy from the car. They cheerfully told me that they were there to clean the carpets.

I immediately felt like a fool. In my head I had built this up to be all about me. That I was being targeted by people out to get me. Doh!

We are often motivated by our emotions; not the facts of a situation.  I was triggered by the events of the week. I was not grounded. My mind was overwhelmed by emotion, by fear from recent threats. Fear that had no basis in fact.

I turned a very simple situation into the beginning of a horror movie. It was all in my mind.

We all can very easily be triggered by something someone does or a situation we are involved in. It triggers memories or emotions from past experience. We then let our emotions dictate our thoughts.  We look for evidence to validate our decisions or our behaviours made in these emotive states.

I work with a lot of clients who find themselves in a world of pain that is based in their emotions; not the facts. They find it hard to separate the two.

The first step to changing that state is to become self aware; to notice that you have been triggered. Then do something that requires you to think. Solve a problem, say the numbers in your phone number backwards. Something that requires some effort. And if that doesn’t work; then talk to someone and tell them what is going on.

Emotions are not facts; they are our response to a situation. Our emotions are real and we feel them. But they are not facts. Take the emotion out of a difficult situation and it is so much easier to see the solution.

 

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