Taking control of my emotional set point was the most powerful thing I’ve ever done. It’s taken me to a new level of happiness and made me a much better operator.
I hate to admit it but I used to be a sulker – it was my go to response when things didn’t work out my way.
My set point was established pretty early, my brother would eat his cornflakes too loud, I’d complain to mum she tell me to get over it and I’d go all grumpy and resentful. It got a run at school when I found myself not picked for the netball team even though I never even liked netball. I seemed to have honed my sulking skills by the time I started work too, I recall not getting an opportunity to travel for a conference and I walked around with my bottom lip dragging along the floor for a week. Don’t even ask what happened when a boyfriend forgot my birthday!
I did my best to hide the fact that I was sulking because I really disliked that I was a sulker and one day I stumbled across some information that told me that I didn’t have to react like this anymore.
Everyone has an emotional go-to place to when they are under stress. Most people are unaware of their emotional set point and don’t know that they can change it.
Where do you go emotionally when you are in a position of stress?
Before I try anything on anyone else I like to test things on myself. Learning to change from an unhelpful set point to a happier more empowered one is something I did and it’s what I want to share with you today.
1. Become aware of your emotional set point
We can live our lives on autopilot or we can become curious about why we do, say and feel the things we do. When we examine ourselves (always without judgement or it wont work) our patterns reveal themselves.
Becoming aware of ourselves takes a staged approach, at first didn’t even know I was sulking it was an automatic response, then I started to see it and call it sulking – I couldn’t stop it but I could feel it, then I started to notice what triggered the sulk and then I could see the trigger go of and decide if I really wanted to respond by sulking.
2. Understand what that emotional set point is costing you
There are as many emotional set points as there are people. It might be playing the victim, sulking or even feeling justified in using aggression. In the moment we believe that these response will make us feel better but while it’s an automatic negative response it clouds our judgement and makes us powerless.
At work, I find that when others or I respond with strong negative emotion the thinking brain seems to shut down. The reality of the situation is clouded and objectivity is lost.
3. The golden rule of impact and effectiveness
This is my people management mantra.
When you are going to do or say something I suggest you stop and think through the impact you will have and then make the most effective choice.
If you get aggressive with me there will be an impact on me, on you and on the relationship.
If you get aggressive with me I’ll most likely, walk off or shut you down, hardly a constructive place to be. Imagine that you get angry and decide to yell at staff member there will be an impact – most likely not to you directly, but their performance might drop off or they’ll take extra sick days.
To limit the possibility of a negative impact, we simply need ask ourselves if there is a more effective choice for us to make.
For me the impact of my sulking was quite personal, it kept me way from the one of the things I most value in life and that is being happy, so I decided to make a more effective choice and learn not to sulk.
Being able to change is an amazing power to have. As a younger person I didn’t know that I could turn my happiness on and off like a tap by managing my own emotional life. Now when I respond to a stressful situation I ask myself what’s the impact and what is the most effective choice I can make. I make sure that I respond from my new emotional set point of feeling happier and more empowered.