The Quick Path from Negative to Positive Emotion for Leaders and Teams
Our granddaughter and her friends feel sad and stressed these days. Who could blame them? She’s sixteen.
Dahlia happily told us about her new job while we ate lunch. She waits tables at a local restaurant. She’s making money. More importantly, she’s not sitting around the house. She’s doing something.
“It’s interesting how doing something can make us feel better,” I said. “We can feel our way into action, or we can act our way into feelings.” Her eyes went bright.
“I notice when I feel blue, if I take a walk, I feel better,” she said.
Emotion and action:
What comes first, emotion or action?
Do feelings govern behaviors? People who feel good at work do good work, for example.
You might think action follows feeling, but there’s more to it. If you don’t believe me, put a big smile on your face right now. Show your teeth and wrinkle the corners of your eyes.
You have to be committed to sadness to feel sad and smile at the same time, even if the smile is fake.
Research shows that smiling elevates happiness, frowning makes you sad, and scowling makes you feel anger.
Amy Cuddy explains that body language may shape who you are. Two minutes of standing like Wonder Woman, for example, increases feelings of confidence.
Feeling follows action.
You don’t do angry things because you’re angry. You feel anger because you do angry things.
We are able to act our way into feelings. Put succinctly.
Action creates emotion.
Emotion is a feedback system that allows learning from behavior.
Answer negative emotion:
Thinking about doing something is more stressful than doing something. Yes, plan that tough conversation, but for goodness’s sake, have it!
Meaningful action enables leaders to get a grip on negative emotion.
Which actions produce positive emotion in you?
What actions might produce positive emotion on your team today?
Action Creates Emotion | Psychology Today
NOTE: Not all action produces positive emotion. I am not a psychologist. This post is not intended to address mental illness.
Something big for me is making sure that I am doing things that bring life to me (gives me energy). As most know, running your own business can be filled with many tasks that don’t exactly inspire you; however, when doing that which we love, typically it brings a surge of joy! Also when it comes to those things we are absolutely dreading, I like to take the smallest step possible towards completing it. One step turns into another step, momentum is built, and a sense of accomplishment follows which can help finish the task.
Great post Dan!
Thanks, I needed this encouragement this morning after a hard phone conversation last night.
Long story short, nearly thirty years ago a young supervisor I was mentoring came to me with the plea, “I’m not feeling very confident in this job. I don’t feel like the officers I supervise have confidence in me.” This young man had been an excellent sergeant for a few years, and based on his performance had been promoted to lieutenant, but moved to another team (agency policy at the time). The new group he had joined was not as familiar with his track record.
I told him,” To earn confidence, you need to act confidently. I know you can do this job, and more importantly, deep down YOU know you can do it. Just square your shoulders and do the job in the way you know it should be done, and pretty soon, the team will know it as well.” He soon won the trust of his new team and became a very effective leader in that role, among several others during his career, and retired a few years after I did.
Acting like a confident leader, combined with the skills he had, produced the confidence he needed.
I feel like this ties back to your old adage of ‘choosing how you show up’. Making a conscious effort to shift energy to the positive. Thank you for the timely reminder.
The old addage ” Actions speak louder than words”, surely the smile escalates the feel better felt moments we have. We are only as good as we make ourselves feel. As Jim Comments”Just square your shoulders and do the job in the way you know it should be done, and pretty soon, the team will know it as well.” Believe in you and soon others will too.
Great reminder! I have learned that for me, when I’m overwhelmed with the amount of work that I have to accomplish, actually taking the time to organize my workspace, while not making progress on moving any of the projects forward, always makes me feel better and less overwhelmed, and ready to accomplish something.
Just what I needed today. Thank you!
This was great timing for me today, feeling down and anxious, and a great reminder!
My mother once told me, “Look in the mirror and lie to yourself until the lie becomes real” but that’s really hard sometimes. You feel like a “Polyanna” but your subconscious will believe what you tell it — why would you lie to you?
Retraining that self-talk and self-action seems simple, and can feel awful, but really works. I’m trying to teach my kids (who always think the worst so they are happy with the outcome) to be kinder to themselves with their self-talk. Even just telling yourself “it’s going to be great” means you will either live up to that expectation or at least not hurt your feelings before it’s begun:)