Purging: Negative Emotions

Have you ever felt that your emotions were out-of-control and they just got the best of you? Instead of managing them in a healthy way, you paraded them on the front porch and gave them sweet tea. I know I have. Ugh.

There have been many “learning opportunities” in my leadership where I have let my emotions get comfortable “on my front porch” and rule my thoughts and behaviors. It always left me with an emotional hangover full of regret, wishing I had responded better. It is especially easy to let our emotions guide us in situations involving conflict, stress or tension. If we can learn to acknowledge our emotions, where they come from and prevent them from negatively guiding our actions and words, we can really start to flourish as a leader and be an established resource for others.

A team is only as good as its leadership. This often requires us – as leaders – to pave the way by setting an example for how we would want our team members to respond in situations, how we want them to approach their work and how invested they are in their personal growth and the growth of the organization. We lead by example in every conversation, in our daily routines, what we tolerate in our workplace, holding others accountable and by our own daily behaviors. If we think no one is paying attention to these details of good leadership, we are wrong. If we want better teams, it starts with us developing our own emotional intelligence and bettering our emotional health.

We know we need an emotional health checkup when:

  • We compare our work ethic and behaviors to the standard of others. This is reactive leadership that will only stunt our personal growth, the growth of our ministry or team and God’s plan for our life. It sounds like this, “I will only do a good job, if they do a good job” or “My manager doesn’t communicate thoroughly so why should I?” Our behavior and work ethic is a standard set between God and us. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing.
  • We are jealous of position, possessions or opportunities of others. An organization with healthy leadership celebrates the progression and wins of others, even when it has nothing to do with the organization itself. What God is doing in an individual’s life should be celebrated. If it is a struggle to give acknowledgment, personal praise and public recognition to people being taken to new levels – its time for a checkup. Celebrating when one person wins, means everybody wins!
  • It’s hard to admit our mistakes. Exemplifying a certain level of transparency in leadership is critical in how we influence those around us. It shows that we are self-aware, not perfect and therefore approachable. Our team will be more honest with us if we are with them. Mistakes are learning opportunities. There is a balance to this that a lot of leaders miss- the importance of sharing what we learned from those mistakes and how we are applying it today in effort to better ourselves. If we miss this key component to being honest with our mistakes, it will encourage complacency and mediocrity in our teams and those we are leading. We must be careful with the message we are sending in our verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • We neglect our own needs to attend to others. I have seen this a lot in underdeveloped leaders who struggle to see the big picture of how they are most effective and influential. These leaders often neglect themselves because they feel the need to save everyone else and typically struggle with time management, prioritization, delegation and are tired… most of the time. They will also burn out quickly and it can affect their physical health. We want to come alongside and support these leaders in developing a confident relationship with Christ. Like Christine says, it is a bit narcissistic if you think about it… Jesus is the only savior. Let’s let Him do his job and Him take care of us!
  • We put people down to make ourselves feel better. This is unacceptable in leadership. This toxicity will plague a team of individuals and that leader will eventually lose influence and members.
  • We are possessive. This is one of the most destructive behaviors to the growth of a ministry or organization. It is revealed when a leader is unwilling to give a person their place or space. This is also incredibly dangerous in the workplace, in building healthy friendships, in sustaining a marriage, and in genuine relationships. As a leader, we must be willing to delegate and personally invest in raising up others to be leaders. If we are doing that effectively, those individuals should prosper and need to move into new positions at higher levels. If we refuse to give this to them because of our insecure leadership, how can we expect things to grow?
  • We bully by demanding our own way. People just want to be heard. They will follow someone that makes them feel heard and therefore valued. That doesn’t mean that we always follow what they are saying, but we should listen and provide feedback. To dismiss someone’s input or feelings would be ineffective and shows insecurity in leadership. As the leader, it is our responsibility to acknowledge someone’s input, give them feedback and if their input cannot be used, explain why it is best for the organization at the time. We need to be confident in our ability to do this tactfully to not create conflict and tension within the team. On the flipside, we do need to consider the truth behind the feedback we receive from others, it could be an opportunity for personal growth in an area we have been blinded to.
  • A new opportunity makes us feel inadequate or insecure. We want embrace growth and new opportunity. God is progressive and wants us to be continual students. Leaders want to approach new opportunities with, “Wow, this is a great opportunity to grow and get more experience” instead of “Whoa, I feel small. I’m not good enough to do this job”.
  • We are unable to accept compliments and say thank you. We do want to give credit to God for the gifts and talents He has given us but we should be able to acknowledge their impact by accepting praise.

“Emotions are good servants but terrible masters.” -Christine Caine

We have the power to regain control over our life, manage our emotions well and rise above. Stay emotionally healthy, my friends!

Go Digging!

How often do I compare myself to others?

Is my first response to celebrate other’s success or feel envious?

Can I honestly admit my mistakes?

Am I trying to save other’s or empower them to grow independently?

How do I receive feedback or criticism? Do I crave it or fear it?

Do I jump into new opportunities?

Do I minimize compliments from others?

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