When things get challenging, your most empowering emotional state is what will help you move forward.
In the category of, practice what you preach, I completed my year in review framework for myself and discovered that my core positive emotion for 2023 was “relief.”
Relief! Really? That kind of feels gross.
Let me back up and share with you my reflections on my core emotional states in 2023, to demonstrate why self-awareness is essential to self-care and well-being.
In my article, “A 5-Month Journey of Disruption and Rediscovery: Navigating Major Life Stressors,” I shared events that happened in the second half of my year. While the individual stresses themselves may have been something I could've better handled one at a time, the accumulation of multiples stresses over time completely overwhelmed me.
Overwhelmed was my core negative emotional experience of this past year.
According to Brené Brown in her wonderful book, “Atlas of the Heart,”
“Overwhelm means an extreme level of stress, and emotional, and/or cognitive intensity to the point of feeling unable to function.”
That description encapsulates perfectly what I felt. In particular, being unable to be creative, and unable to decide to take care of myself. I could not think clearly or logically without immediately going into a stress response, and experiencing yet another undesirable emotion.
When I reviewed my notes for my year-in-review, my core positive emotion was clearly relief.
When I look back to the period before July, there were several events that were also extremely stressful and were taking an emotional toll on my mental and physiological well-being. Again, I went to “Atlas of the Heart” to find the words to describe what it was I experienced. Brown describes relief as,
“The feeling of tension, leaving the body and being able to breathe more easily, thoughts of the worst, being over, and being safe for the moment, resting, and wanting to get onto something else.”
To quote Brown again in the book’s introduction,
“My hope for this book is that together we can learn more about the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human — including the language that allows us to make sense of what we experience.” (Emphasis mine)
Over the last few weeks this December, I have been in emotional and physical recovery mode. I feel like I could sleep 10 hours a day. Often, I crawl into bed after 7 PM, snuggle with our dog Scooby, and get lost in a movie, or a book before falling asleep at 9 PM.
While the worst of my stress is over, there is still the physical and cognitive memory or impact of that experience from which I need to fully recover.
Why does this matter to you?
It's vital for us to recognize that we don't have to be held back by past experiences. With careful introspection, we can make healthier choices about how we want to feel now, and going forward.
My reflection tells me how heavy and uncomfortably enduring my overwhelm was — such that relief was the only antidote.
Going into 2024, my self-mastery and self-care necessitates slowing things down so that I can pay more attention to how I am feeling and being proactive in case I'm sliding towards the inability to function. Self-care must be my priority, and first in my day, so I can experience more of the core emotional states that motivate and excite me to do what I most enjoy.
This is the lesson I want to share with you.
Whatever has happened in your life or is currently going on, when you explore the factors that are creating those experiences, you will have the awareness to make choices to experience life in an empowering way.
Certainly, I don't want relief to be my positive emotion going into 2024.
Instead, I want to experience happiness, joy, and satisfaction from taking good care of myself, being a better person, a loving partner, and a caring do parent for Scooby. Contentment and financial security will come from my making a creative and impactful difference in other peoples lives.
I invite you to consider the emotional states you want to experience in 2024.
When things get challenging or stressful in life, what will help you move forward is your motivation, which is 100% connected with your most empowering emotional states.
Motivation is the key to success, even when it’s something as basic as completing a work project quickly, efficiently, and with minimal friction. If you’ve ever said, “I’m just not feeling it,” that’s a powerful sign that you are not emotionally aligned with what you love doing or are highly skilled at.
Conversely, when you do something you enjoy (notice that word, “en-joy”) and are emotionally compelled to do (motivation), you may find yourself often and easily sliding into a flow state.
Flow is described as,
“Flow in positive psychology, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time.” — Wikipedia
Think back over 2023 and other times in your life when you have experienced flow.
What were you feeling emotionally at the time?
"What can I do to remind myself of that state, to elevate and empower my creative difference-making, and experience frequent joy and peace of mind in 2024?"
“Creating what we want comes from difference-making.” — Steve Chandler
P.S. Next week, I’ll publish my entire 8-step 2023 Year-In-Review Framework as a single article, which you can work through at your leisure. If you're a subscriber, it will be delivered directly to your email inbox.
P.P.S. What to explore what getting what you want in 2023 could look like from difference-making? Let's connect for a conversation. Send me a message using the form at the bottom of my Coaching page.