I’m going to start with a bold premise:
All decisions are made at an emotional level.
The first time my boss ever said this to me, I gave him a funny look. No way do I make decisions at an emotional level. I’m even-keel and logical when I make decisions. I mentally calculate the risk as I weigh the pros and cons before I ever commit to a decision. How is that at all emotional?
The simple answer?
You cannot separate yourself from your emotions. They are always a part of you. No matter what. You were created with them and you will die with them.
The good news is that in most cases our emotions help serve us as a kind of compass.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to properly use a compass. Even those that do may end up lost in a forest somewhere because they miscalculated their destination or made one tiny mistake in their navigation. But by learning how to use a compass and navigate with one successfully you have a skill that will serve you for life.
Your emotions are no different.
They have to be honed, carefully managed, and most important they need to be understood by the user.
Most of us are only really familiar with strong, basic emotions: Anger, Joy, Sadness, and Contentedness
Well most of us are aware that compasses for 4 main points: North, South, East, and West.
And while sometimes you will need to go exactly North, more often than not your compass needle will be between any two of those four points. And so it is with your emotions. But it is up to you learn what that ‘in-between’ emotions feel like and what they mean to you.
By acknowledging that all decisions are made at an emotional level you are not expressing weakness. You are admitting the truth that we cannot be separated from our emotions no matter how hard we try. And the beauty is you can now embrace the truth and leverage it to your advantage. Our emotions are here to help us and guide us. Why not make the most of it?
It is tough to identify emotions beyond the basics, but one of the ways my boss has challenged me is to use ‘feeling words’. One to three words that actually convey a feeling or sense of emotion. Words like “good, fine, great, happy, sad, and decent” do not cut it. Recently my boss asked me what I was feeling after a slew of back to back meetings and all I could come up with was “full” and “introspective” but those two words were enough to convey to him where I was in a simple, straightforward way.
This exercise does not come easy for me. It’s uncomfortable and a definite struggle to use a few simply complex words to describe what I’m truly feeling, but it’s pushing me to better understand myself and help me moving forward.
If I’m going to make decisions where my emotions play a role, why not understand everything at play and be in control?