What To Do When There’s No Time For Your Emotions
You’ve just turned in a big project with an urgent deadline. You’ve worked really hard on it, and feel good about the work you turned in.
Your boss calls you into their office after reviewing it and says: This wasn’t good enough, you’re going to need to try again.
Immediately, you begin to feel a sinking in your chest. Your mind starts swelling with some pretty turbulent emotions – shame, anger, frustration. Here at Stress Reset, we call that entering the Red Zone.
You think to yourself: What do they mean it wasn’t good enough?! I worked so hard on that!
But you can’t do anything about those feelings in that moment. The deadline is still looming, and you need to deliver the revisions right away.
In that moment, you do not have time to really feel those turbulent emotions. You cannot effectively process what you’re feeling, allowing you to exit the Red Zone.
You have to put aside those feelings, sit down at your desk, and try again.
Oftentimes, this is the reality we face in the workplace. We don’t always have the space to feel the big feelings that show up.
So what do we do in this kind of moment? When there’s no time to feel, only time to act?
You’ve got two paths forward to choose from:
You could go home, try to forget about it, and go about your evening.
You could just not do anything about it, and hope for them to go away.
But, despite your best efforts, they will not go away.
Those feelings will sit inside of you, waiting for you to pay attention to them. They will fester, and worsen, and eventually begin to affect you in a much more negative way. They may cause you to shut down, over-indulge in food or alcohol, and even experience painful physical symptoms.
We’ve all found ourselves using this option before – sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. There’s no shame in it!
But there’s a better alternative…
It’s important to recognize that this isn’t going to feel good at first.
You’re going to feel guilty about putting your needs above all else on your list. You might feel selfish, or ashamed. This is inevitable.
But this means you’re doing it right!
In this practice, guilt is GOOD. It’s a sign you’re on the right path. It means you’re changing a behavior that does not serve you anymore.
The alternative – what you’re probably feeling right now – would be burnout, anxiety, and chronic overwhelm. You deserve to feel better than that!
But if you feel yourself struggling to push through the guilt of putting yourself first, seek support.
Find someone who will remind you that you’ve put yourself on your list. Someone who will celebrate you for doing so, and push you to follow through.
Think about this option like pressing pause on the emotions.
You’re not stopping them completely… You’re simply making the conscious decision to return to them later.
Consciously pausing these emotions isn’t inherently a bad thing – it’s a great tool for being able to experience a big moment without letting it derail you – but you cannot forget to circle back to those feelings later.
Because they will not forget about you!
So what does that look like?
For some, it might be simply sitting down on the couch and closing your eyes. Letting the emotions move through you.
For others, it might involve journaling. Working out. Or talking about it with a loved one.
Whatever the feel-good action might be, the intent is to consciously metabolize the experience that you had and move on with your life.
Here at the Stress Reset, we create an empowering space for you to process your emotions in a healthy way – promoting emotional health, emotional regulation, and emotional intelligence. This, in turn, creates the space for you to better honor yourself, others, and the situation at hand.