“I’m not emotional” seems to be an aspirational destination for many, and on the other side of the pendulum an overcompensation of feelings, that denies fact. The ability to completely disconnect from emotion has been celebrated as a sign of strength and self control for many decades, which also seems to now be meeting its polar opposite – an emotionally reactive world that’s forgotten how to listen and centre.
Here’s the reality; human-beings are not rational creatures. 80% of our decision making is emotional, whether you like it or not. Nature teaches us that true resilience is the willingness and capacity to withstand all that life brings; from the summer to the winter. It’s the capacity to be present with all that is. It is in this state that a human being may find true peace and contentment. To be whole with the entirety of ourselves and our lives.
Emotional health is a fundamentally missed piece in our health narrative. We’ve focused so strongly on physical and mental health, that we’ve neglected the glue that binds the two together. The good news is; Emotional Health is a skill that can be taught – and is as crucial a skill as learning to read and write.
With the ever-advancing civilization we find ourselves in, emotional health is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but rather a necessity that is crucial in the evolution of our species. Emotional centeredness is the cornerstone to ensure that our wisdom is upheld to a parallel standard as the accelerated landscape of technology. Emotional wellness is the doorway to spiritual maturity.
Tell me: Are you thinking that nothing in business is as crucial as strategic thinking, financial management, culture, running an effective team, and focus?
Well, what if I told you that all of those crucial aspects of your business, in fact, RELY on your capability to be emotionally healthy…
Let’s break it down a bit;
First off; What actually does emotional health mean?
To be emotionally healthy means to have an acceptance of your entire emotional experience; to be able to hold yourself with compassion regardless of the emotional experience and guide yourself back to a place of centred-ness. It is awareness of these emotions and having the resilience to respond to changes and challenges in our world. It is being present with our emotions in complete compassionate understanding.
Emotional health does not require that we live in a state of constant positivity or joy. It is simply being able to feel an entire wheel of emotions and still have the capability to return back to our centre.
In its essence, it is emotional centred-ness.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
– Charles Darwin
Just as one can be a fluent language speaker, we can also fluently speak the language of emotions.
It is believed that your IQ accounts for only 20% of your success in life. The other 80% is determined by your emotional intelligence and social intelligence. As the need for rational problem solving is decreased amongst humanity, the value of emotional awareness continues to elevate rapidly.
So what are the factors that contribute to emotional awareness?
Emotional fluency is the ability to flex between emotional states without experiencing an emotional refractory period. Meaning, we are no longer impacted by the rise and fall of our moods; strongly being able to remain unshakable through all of our states. Emotional fluency enables us to fully identify, comprehend and effectively express and communicate our own emotions; it gives us the power to perceive and respond to the emotions of others.
This refined awareness of our emotional wellbeing and regulation can bring about greater harmony and balance in our relationships; enhancing our communication, and brings rationality and objectivity into our decision-making.
(Are you beginning to see the crucial connection between your emotional health and business, now?)
Leaders, we have a responsibility to prioritise our emotional health.
We cannot inspire others to become something we are yet to become.
We cannot take someone somewhere we have never been.
“Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior.”
-Stephen R. Covey
Emotional incapacity is at its peak. Human beings are experiencing prolonged stress, overwhelming emotions and a fast-paced, convenience-driven world in which they have yet to experience before.
Today’s common modern human experience has become one of:
- High uncertainty
- High fear, stress and anxiety
- Overwhelming amount of information
- Access to instant gratification
- Over reliance on quick fixes
- Increase of self promotion and focus
And all of this is resulting in:
- Underdeveloped intuition
- Lack of compassion
- Reduced resilience
- Disinterest in spiritual wisdom
- Lack of persistence
- Low and selective attention span
- Lack of healthy debate
- Inability to tolerate difference of perspective and opinion
In the US, the American Psychological Association found a significant increase in stress levels in the last 10 years, with many people reporting high levels of stress related to work, finances, and the future of the country1 – and this doesn’t include the aftermath of the pandemic.
We have become an emotionally reactive population, creating a magnitude of imbalance in our world.
We have forgotten that the mess we are witnessing in the external world is a mirror of the chaos and imbalance within.
Let’s Explore This Emotional Reactivity Further;
It was once understood that when an idea was antagonised and debated, it was only the morally good ideas that would stand the test of time.
For this reason, philosophers encouraged societies to have open discussion and for those to speak freely into the colourful and varied perspectives of individuals.
A stark contrast to the intolerance we are noticing today; an unwillingness to hear and be welcoming of different concepts and ideas. We react negatively to others’ emotions.
This intolerance of perspective and degree of emotional dysregulation has led us to the creation of echo chambers that limit our ability to truly understand one another.
It’s now crucial to acknowledge the impact this is having
On our emotional health, the coherence of our families, and our businesses.
Research shows that emotional health is critical to the success of business leaders and the organisations they lead.
The more emotionally aware and fluent leaders are, the more effective they can be at building relationships, managing internal and external conflict, and inspiring high performance on their teams.
They increase their own capacity to make better, more rational decisions, flow more freely with creativity, and increase productivity.
In fact, the Niagara Institute summarised from a Harvard Business Review report, “The EI Advantage” that emotionally aware organisations under emotionally healthy leaders are noticeably more empowered, more productive, more risk tolerant and more engaged2 – and the fact remains that engaged employees are 18% more productive than their disengaged counterparts3.
These are the leaders and businesses that thrive under pressure, and will continue to thrive despite added challenges and changes from our current state of global uncertainty.
“Emotional intelligence is the key ingredient when leading teams through times of change.4“
And those leaders who prioritise their emotional health, have better mental and physical health as a result.
They are well balanced leaders – emotionally, cognitively, physically.
Here’s the thing no leader cares to admit;
Emotional exhaustion affects performance – of the leader and the company as a whole.
Nonetheless, it holds truth…
A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that managers who experienced high levels of emotional exhaustion reported lower levels of team performance and effectiveness5.
Not to mention, emotional exhaustion is a significant predictor of burnout among leaders. According to Forbes, nearly 60% of leaders reported feeling used up at the end of the workday – a strong indicator of burnout, and found that 26% of these burnout leaders expected to leave within the next year6.
Leaders who feel the strain of emotional drainage and depletion cannot sustain this for long. They make irrational decisions, their communication with their team suffers massive consequences, leaders break down.
“Burnout costs employers an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending and lost productivity.”
-Harvard Business Review7
A leader’s imbalance leads the entirety of the company to imbalance.
This trait is especially prevalent in leaders who feel like they must be “on” all the time and lack opportunities – or don’t make the opportunities – for self-care and emotional replenishment. Sound familiar?
Sadly, adrenal fatigue, chronic stress, bad sleep hygiene and nervous system overload have become a ‘normal’ part of day-to-day life for the west.
Is this really what we should be settling for?
Rather – what about leaders demonstrating positive emotions and creating a positive work climate to improve employee well-being, engagement, and job satisfaction; to improve their own well-being, cognitive capabilities and performance?
“Leaders set the tone of their organisation.”
-Harvard Business School
The Ultimate Outcome: Attaining Emotional Sovereignty
To no longer be at the mercy of external conditions. To no longer let these external circumstances affect our performance, our decision making, or our wellness – on an individual level and a business level.
For just a moment,
Let’s imagine what that future would look like for humanity –
Our future civilisation of emotionally well beings under emotionally well leaders.
Imagine a self-aware humanity; an entire civilisation in touch with their emotions, and able to regulate their emotions appropriately. Just imagine a world capable of establishing healthy boundaries in relationships.
Where, no matter who we are speaking to, we are able to communicate our needs effectively – to our partner, to our family, to our team members. Where all can express themselves fully without fear of judgement, and work together to resolve conflicts in a constructive and collaborative manner. To engage honestly, respectfully, and empathetically.
Where we can hold even the most intimate conversations with ourselves in compassion – and in love.
A society where individuals are encouraged and supported to take care of their emotional health – where leaders take ownership of emotional health, not only for themselves but for the entirety of the organisation.
Picture what that could look like; going to work, and feeling wrapped in safety and a deep sense of fulfilment, knowing that your organisation prioritises your well-being. You know that your wellness is valued. And that feeling of being seen for your value, seen for your worth spills over into your work. It cultivates success.
Like a wildfire that spreads – you are capable of anything.
Imagine a world of human wildfires – powerful and resilient. Ready to take on any challenge.
Can you picture it?
An emotionally balanced and fluent society that guides us into unlocking a new baseline for humanity. One that opens the doors to actualising a civilisation of love.
“Your mental attitude, your emotional state, and your reactions to situations are the keys to success. Master them and you will master everything else.”
American Psychological Association. “The State of Our Nation.” Apa.org, 2017, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2017/state-nation.pdf.
Garton, Eric. “Employee Burnout Is a Problem with the Company, Not the Person.” Harvard Business Review, 6 Apr. 2017, hbr.org/2017/04/employee-burnout-is-a-problem-with-the-company-not-the-person.
Inc, Gallup. “4 Factors Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in U.S.” Gallup.com, 4 Feb. 2020, www.gallup.com/workplace/284180/gallup-q12-meta-analysis-report-2019.aspx. Accessed 18 May 2023.
Koyuncu, Burak. “EQ: The Great White Whale of Leadership Development.” Www.lhh.com, 3 Dec. 2019, www.lhh.com/us/en/insights/eq-the-great-white-whale-of-leadership-development/. Accessed 18 May 2023.
May, Emily. “The Statistics on Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace.” Www.niagarainstitute.com, 18 Apr. 2023, www.niagarainstitute.com/blog/emotional-intelligence-statistics.
Segal, Edward. “Leaders and Employees Are Burning out at Record Rates: New Survey.” Forbes, 17 Feb. 2021, www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsegal/2021/02/17/leaders-and-employees-are-burning-out-at-record-rates-new-survey/?sh=2a49f64d6499. Accessed 18 May 2023.