Emotion as Vital Information

Emotions are more than a reaction to an experience; they are an experience in themselves.

They are also a source of vital information about you and the world around you. To build resiliency in your worklife, it is important to make the most of the available information. In a world of frantically busy people flooded with data, the capacity to extract vital information from the flow can make a difference in your capacity to thrive.

The key is introducing a moment of reflection.

A moment of reflection is a challenge. Emotions are compelling. You are going through your day on a fairly even keel, and someone’s inconsiderate behavior sparks feelings of anger or resentment. This emotional reaction was not part of your game plan for the day. It just happened.

Sometimes emotions prompt a quick reaction: expressing your anger towards the other person. Sometimes people repress showing a reaction, keeping it contained to internal tension. With either reaction, emotions have a certain resonance. The encounter can stay on one’s mind for a while to come.

A reflective moment brings a mindfulness principle into play. Rather than express or repress an emotion, you pay attention to the experience. It means looking at your emotional reaction as information about you, the people around you and the way you relate to one another.

Positive emotions are just as informative as unpleasant emotions. The warmth you feel after someone has complimented your work or given you a hand in a complicated task is worthy of reflection as well. The full range of experience makes a contribution to resiliency at work.

Developing a mindful approach to emotions is a worthwhile investment.

Subsequent posts will explore ways of introducing that reflective moment.

What works for you?

3 Comments

  1. Dear Dr. Leiter
    I totally agreein this point.My experience with directive staff is that they have few opportunities to reveal their emotions to their subordinates.

    One session of refection excercises was a succesfull event for them and they still recall that sesion seven years after.

    The main point was to consider them as persons with the right to feel and be a little bit vulnerable in a safe situation where emotions could be expresed.

  2. Thank you Heriberto
    It’s great that you’ve had some experience with reflective events. Busy people do get caught up in their work day, especially when it involves responding to other people. It helps them to have a structured method for reflection.

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