We have thoughts, feelings and emotions, but we are not our thoughts, feelings or emotions.” - Frances Vaughn

Anabolic leaders are aware of their own and others’ emotions, and are able to step back and recognize that their emotions are not automatic. Let’s take a closer look at emotions.

First, let’s clear up a common misperception. The words “feelings” and “emotions” are not interchangeable, although most people use them that way. Feelings are physical – for example, a pit in your stomach, tightness in your throat, or simply a sensation of warmth. Emotions are actually just responses to those feelings.

Emotions FEEL good or bad, but in reality, they are neither good nor bad. They just are – and one of the best ways to grow as a person, and as a leader of yourself and others, is to listen to and understand your emotional responses and know that emotions are part of a process, they are not automatic.

People usually react to their emotions instead. They judge their emotions as “good” or “bad” instead of listening to the emotion and figuring out what it’s trying to tell them.

Emotions are related to how we interpret events and situations. Look at emotions as tools to help you understand what is going on for you in any particular situation, and ask questions such as “Why did I have this response?”, and “What can I learn from this?” These questions allow you to observe what’s going on and to pay attention to what’s happening, instead of just reacting to life’s circumstances.

This week, pay attention to your feelings – and your emotions – and pause to figure out what you can learn in the process. Journal your observations to notice patterns in your responses.

With this collected data ask yourself, "Is this how I want to respond?"


E Factor Newsletter February 2009 – Understanding Emotions