My amazing client Denise Hamilton www.watchherwork.com shared a great story about setting her intention to get tickets to see the show Hamilton in New York. She didn’t listen to her friends’ warnings that there were no tickets available and if she happened to get a cancelled reservation it would be $800 per ticket or more.
Denise decided that she would make someone else tell her “No” rather than telling herself “No”. She showed up at the box office and asked about cancellations. Denise needed two tickets and only one was available, so she asked again. The agent checked the reservations, moved some things around and gave her two tickets together in the fifth row – for $229 each!
After she took a few minutes to process what happened, Denise realized that her positive intention is what created a positive outcome. She practiced what Deepak Chopra advises in Setting Powerful Intentions.
What intention would be most powerful for you today?
Do you remember Grover on Sesame Street teaching kids about Over, Under, Around and Through? Check it out: Grover on YouTube. Grover’s lesson is useful in understanding how we respond to negative emotions like sadness, guilt, anger or jealousy. Most of us do whatever we can to go over, under or around those emotions.
Research shows, however, that we need to go through the experience of feeling uncomfortable emotions so we can learn how to accept and deal with them. Like Grover, we can’t just do it once. Experiencing these emotions throughout our lives can make us more resilient and able to bounce back sooner. We can also develop more empathy for others who are dealing with difficult situations.
If you find yourself trying to go over, under or around something, I invite you to consider what benefits might be on the other side if you let yourself go through it.
During his three terms as the mayor of New York Ed Koch asked everyone he met, “How’m I doin’?” He didn’t want to wait for an election to find out. How did you do last year? Did you ask?
The more senior your role, the less likely you are to have a formal discussion about how you’re doing. Many companies have moved away from formal evaluations completely. Whether you get formal feedback or not, you may be reluctant to ask your boss for informal feedback because:
- You don’t want to be micromanaged
- No news is good news
- It’s the boss’s job to initiate these conversations
- You might have to make some changes
If it is important to you to know what you’re doing well and how you could improve, and you work for someone who isn’t good at giving feedback, you owe it to your boss and yourself to find an approach that works well for both of you.
Real time feedback is best but not everyone is comfortable with that. Ask your boss what she or he prefers. You might get the best feedback during conversations over coffee. If more structure appeals to you, you could suggest regularly scheduled discussions focused on one or two key areas.
If you don’t ask, then how will you know how you’re doing?
Are you the person everyone comes to see when they need to vent? Do you spend a lot of time comforting colleagues, friends and family members and then find yourself depressed and exhausted?
We are told that empathy is important in understanding how others feel, and yet it can drain us if we take on too many of someone else’s negative emotions. Practicing compassion along with empathy enables us to relate to others who are suffering without becoming too distressed. Taking actions such as avoiding blame, encouraging cooperation and giving to charitable causes helps us feel that we can make a difference and gives us strength to resist the temptation to wallow in someone else’s misery.
If you are a naturally empathetic person, I invite you to consider approaching the other person’s pain from your point of view rather than trying to mirror their feelings, and notice the impact on your mental health.