My Blog

Life Smacked me in the Face

Yesterday, my friend’s dog got hit by a car and killed. Her name was TJ and she was a beautiful German Shepherd.

I arrived minutes after it happened.

I found myself back in Manager Mode: it’s characterized by a numb body, activated mind, and focus on solutions and action.

I used it a lot when I ran a company.

Especially when everyone around you is falling apart.

I gave myself a couple of minutes to cry and then went into action.

I looked up a list of animal clinics, delegated the drive, got contact info, and started a group thread to support my friend.

Sound familiar?

Sometimes leadership requires you to short-circuit emotional processing in order to get stuff done. That’s okay.

The issues arise when you go from a crisis to a work day.

I had a day of meetings where I had to keep the grief at bay. My head was swimming in a fog but I needed to charge through.

Thankfully, I’m armed with the knowledge of how detrimental it is to hold all that emotion in.

Here are my key strategies to paying down emotional debt at the end of a busy, adrenaline-fueled day:

  1. Make space: This is top priority. Carve out a space of at least 30 minutes to discharge the emotion. The longer you put this off from the originating event, the more it gets stashed in the body and builds debt.
  2. Invite the body back: Manager Mode cuts off the body, so you need to invite it in. Close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths, and then approach your body with curiosity. Where are the physical sensations located? What do they feel like? Where do they want to go?

  3. Find your safe zone: Introverts might journal. Extraverts talk with other people. Whatever the outlet, ensure it’s a judgment-free zone where you can explore with curiosity what’s emerging within you. Stay attuned both physically and emotionally with what comes up in each moment.

  4. Exaggerate the emotion: Inspired by the Sedona Method, once you find the hint of an emotion, welcome it in with open arms. That could include saying out loud, “All right grief, let’s do this!” This kind of openness helps me feel the emotion fully and then ultimately release it fully. And you’ll be surprised what emotions and thoughts are bundled on the other side.

Emotional constipation isn’t only unpleasant, over time it can become chronic and toxic. Don’t let a build-up of emotions ruin your immune and nervous systems.

Find release (and peace) frequently.

In loving memory of TJ and those we’ve loved and lost in our journey of life. May you find peace in their memory and alchemize grief into honor.

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