“This feels very negative.” A voice sounded, seemingly louder than any of the others.
The noise of chatter in the room gradually quietened and the group looked to me with interest for a response.
I was facilitating a workshop session that focused on how to handle challenges within the workplace and within a particular job role specific to the group. I had asked participants to identify a challenge that they wanted to work on and to focus in this particular exercise, on how that was making them feel.
Frustrated. Worried. Stressed. Cross. Inadequate. Uncertain. These were some of the words coming up and as the facilitator, they were exactly what I was looking for. The aim of the exercise was to enable the group to dig a little deeper – (something we are really big on at 3B) in order to begin to understand the forces at play within their own situation. Identifying a way to overcome their challenge was the objective and throughout the day, we began to explore what was really happening – the factors influencing and driving these issues, the people involved and how participants felt about the whole thing.
The reason for this? Well, we can’t truly begin to deal with anything in our work and indeed in the rest of our lives until we know what it is we are dealing with. Once we’ve done this, understanding how we feel plays a huge part in how we might then start to work through it. How we feel can determine the course of action we may take and more importantly, influence how effectively we approach things.
What was interesting to me about the ‘negative’ interpretation from that participant was that they used the word ‘excited’ to describe how their challenge made them feel. “Well, you’ve got to be positive haven’t you? It’s important to put a positive slant on things.” This was how they explained it. And yet, by the end of the day, there had been no movement for them in terms of being able to feel differently about their challenge. And they had no clear idea of what they might do next in order to move things forward. When asked to state how they felt at the end of the session, the frustrated, worried, stressed and inadequate were transformed into hopeful, optimistic, motivated and confident. However, excited was still excited. And perhaps that was really true for them – and that’s certainly more than ok. Yet I couldn’t help wondering about how it all related to this idea of being positive. It’s a subject that comes up frequently and there’s lots of interesting research emerging to say that accepting our negative emotions actually increases our ability to deal with issues. Whereas, constantly trying to be positive can actually create added pressure and feelings of anxiety.
“We are wired to feel negative at times. It’s simply a part of the human condition. Too much stress on being positive is just one more way our culture figuratively overmedicates the normal fluctuations of our emotions.” Susan David
In order to find the positive, we must first accept feelings of negativity – not brush over them or stick a big plaster over the top and hope that our positive attitude will prevent anything from poking through. To name the feeling, state what’s crappy and identify our fear and uncertainty helps us explore what’s really at the core of our experience. It provides an honest starting point and enables us to dig that little bit deeper so we know ourselves a little better for next time.
And the great thing is, this is just the beginning. From here, we can release our frustrations, understand our blocks and barriers and transform our thinking to find a meaningful solution that is true to ourselves and to the situation. Each time we do this, we build up our ability to do it some more. We create ways to be more resilient, to develop understanding and awareness. To know ourselves and others a little better and to draw on our own resources in order to transform to the positive.
If you have a challenge you’d like to focus on or if you are feeling stuck or blocked and would like some time to find some meaningful movement – maybe we can help? Get in touch to find out more about 1-1 coaching, find us on Facebook or check out our events section for details of our next meet up.