When you run your own business, you must learn to manage your emotions.
Self-regulation means managing your emotions. It is the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check, and to think before acting. According to the website MindTools.com it’s one of the five elements of emotional intelligence (knowing your emotions; managing your emotions/self-regulation; motivating yourself; recognizing and understanding other people’s emotions, and managing relationships), a concept developed by psychologist Daniel Goleman.
Goleman and his colleagues found that self-regulated people can calm themselves down when they’re angry or upset, and cheer themselves up when they’re down. They are also flexible, and adapt their styles to work with other (no matter who they are), and take charge of situations when necessary.
According to Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee, in their 2002 book
“The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership,”
people who self-regulate see the good in other people,
and are able to identify opportunities in different situations.
They keep lines of communication open, make their motivations and intentions clear,
and act in accordance with their values.
They also work to the best of their abilities, and are able to keep going when times are tough.
There is a Native American story called “The Two Wolves.” It starts with an old Cherokee telling his grandson about a battle that often goes on inside of people.
He says, “My son, the fight is between two wolves. One is evil. It is angry, envious, jealous, sorrowful, regretful, greedy, arrogant, self-pitying, guilty, resentful, inferior, dishonest, proud, superior, and egotistical. The other is good. This wolf is joyful, peaceful, loving, hopeful, serene, humble, kind, benevolent, empathetic, generous, truthful, compassionate, and faithful.”
His grandson thinks for a while, and then asks: “Which wolf wins, Grandfather?”
The old Cherokee simply replies, “The wolf you feed.”
How To Manage Your Emotions
The point of the fabled story is to identify that each of us has a choice in how we react to situations: we can react positively or in a negative way. The key to managing your emotions is to practice thinking and behaving more positively regardless of the circumstances that arise.
Let’s apply the two wolves analogy to your business.
Imagine you’ve just had a client proposal meeting and you have an unsure ‘feeling’ about how it went. The client has not yet hired you, and has asked for some time to think about it. But you begin thinking negatively about this client, so much so that it interferes with your ability to get back to your work for the rest of the day.
The next day, you return to your office and begin to tell yourself positive things like, “Another opportunity will show up,” “The client will chose the option (and provider) best suited,” and, “It’s business, NOT personal.” These new thoughts help you to create more positive energy so you can think clearly again, and gain perspective.
Making a proactive choice to feed your “good wolf,” with your self-talk and to manage the way you think and consequently act, involves self-regulation.
Emotional intelligence is a crucial leadership skill. When you have a high degree of emotional intelligence you are aware of your emotions, as well as of others’ feelings and needs. Emotional intelligence includes self-regulation. Regulating your emotions means you can manage how you react or respond to situations and express yourself appropriately at all times.
7 Secrets to Manage Your Emotions
1. Know Yourself
When you have self-awareness, you are more cognizant of how your emotions and impulses show up. When you are enlightened, you act from a high degree of authenticity, integrity and alignment and are able to function at your best. Enlightened self-awareness helps prevent us from behaving in a way that could cost us, even when there are short-term benefits. We are more able to delay gratification and impulses long enough to think ahead to the possible consequences of our actions. Being self-regulated also enhances our resilience and ability to “bounce back” from negative feedback, which can derail productivity at work.
The good news is that you can learn self-regulation by increasing your self-awareness. Some people do well with practices like journaling regularly, and setting up an accountability relationship with a respected friend or colleague. Knowing yourself and learning more about what makes you happy and (more importantly), what can derail you will help you avoid the runaway emotional train!
2. Be Open to Change
People who self-regulate tend to cope well with change by being flexible, resilient and adaptable. Successful people tend to see change positively, and as an exciting opportunity for self-development. Conversely, people who resist change can experience a great deal of stress. Stress can lead to other negative physical and psychological effects. Therefore how you handle change, and approaching change positively will help you to regulate emotionally when changes occur.
3. Identify Your Triggers
An important key to manage your emotions is knowing your weaknesses. It’s also important to identify those niggly emotional triggers from other people’s behavior that affect you negatively.
Think of the times when you’ve given into your negative impulses. Were your reactions useful? Can you identify negative patterns and replace them with more positive behaviors?
For example, you might discover that you tend to lose it more often when you feel your workload is out of control. If this is the case, you might want to schedule “free” appointments in your day to catch up on work to avoid this situation.
Learning to recognize your emotional triggers will help you choose more useful responses, and avoid thoughtless reactions.
4. Reframe Negative Thoughts
Reframing is a skill that allows you to ‘see things differently’ or shift your perspective. People who successfully manage emotions are able to choose how they experience an event or obstacle by recognizing when negative thoughts occur, and checking in to see whether they’re reasonable. If not, it’s time to work on reframing the experience by gaining perspective. You can rationally assess the facts, and undo the negative by saying to yourself, “I can do this, I’ve done it before” rather than, “I’m terrible! I can’t do this, I’m hopeless!”
Another strategy to manage your emotions is to find something positive about the situation. This small shift in your personal perspective can transform your thinking and make you feel more optimistic about the future. For example, imagine you’ve received some feedback that upsets you and causes negative thoughts to spiral. Take the emotion out of the equation for a moment, and think about whether there’s any element of truth in it.
5. Keep Calm
When you manage your emotions, you are able to maintain calm in the face of adversity, and keep your cool. If you’re in a situation where you’re losing control of your emotions, try to remove yourself for a few moments – either physically or mentally. Even a few deep breaths can assist you in breaking that negative thought cycle, and get you back on a more positive path. Breathe in slowly for five seconds, then breathe out for five. Focus on your breathing out more than breathing in, and nothing else. Do this at least five times – and close your eyes for an added benefit.
6. Consider IFTT
IFTT is programming language for ‘if this… then that‘ – it’s a universal conditional that allows programmers to predict a consequence based on a certain input. So, next time you find yourself in a difficult situation when trying to manage your emotions, think before you act: ‘If I react THIS way…. then THIS will likely occur”… and consider the consequences. Potential unwanted consequences will come to the top of your mind to help remind you why it’s important to self-manage.
7. Lead With Integrity
Entrepreneurs who self-regulate and successfully learn to manage emotions often report living with heightened integrity. They are good role models who create trusting environments. They do the right thing for the right reasons, even when it means they don’t take the easiest option.
People who live and work with integrity are often successful because others respect them. To behave with integrity, it is important to identify, define and live within your core values and beliefs every day. Admit your mistakes, take responsibility for your actions, and listen to your intuition.
People tend to treat you how you treat them, so, to avoid bad behaviors from others, don’t exhibit them yourself. Equally, if you remain positive and optimistic – even in the face of adversity others will likely do the same when they engage with you!
Your Sanity Assignment
- Choose one of the seven secrets presented here and create a strategy that fits for you.
- Next time an emotional situation occurs, try your new strategy out!
- We all have the ability to control the way we react to situations. Building on your skills using the secrets above will surely help you consider the consequences of your actions before you burst into an emotional mess…
What strategies do you use to manage your emotions in business? What secrets can you share with our readers? Please share your wisdom in the comments box below!