When Your Emotions Get In Your Way
By Connie Mish
BOSTON, July 26, 2012
No matter what you are tending to, your garden, career, or relationships, having a plan helps you achieve your desired result. Without a plan you are in an emotionally charged abyss that can leave you feeling as though you are lost at sea. The most important things I tend to in my life are my family relationships, my career, my home, and my garden. Each one of them require a long term goal with a plan for success. The one thing I have noticed about people throughout my life is that family relationships usually aren’t planned for, they become a side affect of life and are cared for utilizing raw emotion. Even a garden needs tending to and some studying must be done in order to care for certain plants correctly. You would not simply plant basil and walk away because they require a specific amount of sun, pruning, proper soil, and watering in order to be healthy. What do you do when you run into a situation regarding your career or your family relationships? Do you take a step back and think about what your goal or purpose is with your boss, child, husband, etc. or do you respond with what comes to your mind at the moment? Below are two true stories (names changed for anonymity) of how emotional decision making can result in potentially serious and life altering negative consequences.
The Consummate Professional
Growing up Corrine had plenty of dreams. She wanted to be a successful actress, singer, model, or all the above, overall, a talented individual who was also recognized for her talent. She never achieved those childhood dreams and, in fact, never took a step past dreaming in an effort to achieve them. When she was 30 she had goals more so than dreams. Dreams have a connotation of being unattainable whereas goals are generally attainable and usually have a path by which to achieve them.
Her goals, I imagine, were much the same as the majority of Americans at 30yrs old, a career that she could be proud of and would allow her to achieve her personal goals; a comfortable home and vehicle, etc. According to just about any standard she achieved each of her goals in a very short period of time. She had a great career with a company that she was proud to be associated with, a comfortable home and vehicle, and financial stability. Something was still missing. The people surrounding her were self proclaimed more successful than she, yet by all appearances they were miserable and appeared to enjoy making others miserable. The harder she worked toward achieving their level, the more she began to take on their behaviors of looking down upon others and using creative words to put others in their place. She stopped looking outside her office to collaborate with others in her industry in an effort to be innovative and add value. She had become exactly like those around her. In essence she had stifled all of her creativity and natural strengths to fit into their mold and still was not considered good enough in spite of having exceeded all performance goals.
Then came the negative emotion. It is in this moment where we have a choice to make: be who we want to be or get sucked in and lose track of our goals and who we are. Looking back, she lost sight of her goals when she decided to follow her superiors designed path to achieve the title that encompassed her actual job duties. By her own admission she should have continued to be genuine and innovative, because that is what motivated her and allowed her to excel in the first place. She achieved the top level of her career (minus the title) in spite of not having an equal opportunity at higher education when she young. That’s a huge accomplishment overlooked by those around her, including herself at times. Her superiors’ emotion got in the way as they continued to stifle a high performer. This typically occurs due to a combination of lack of communication and the viewpoint from which they are able to see the situation. As a result the employer lost a dedicated and innovative high performer and Corrine lost her motivation, drive, and the career path she had worked so hard to achieve.
The Parental Unit
I haven’t spoken to many people in my life who have described their childhood as being optimal without negative experiences. Sandra is a young mother in her 20’s who has made plenty of emotional decisions in her life leading to her subconscious decision to parent emotionally as opposed to logically. For example, her young children saw the risky sexual behavior she displayed as a young adult. She allows them to try marijuana and alcohol, and continually speaks negatively about others in front of her children. Her eldest is now in her early teens and her behavior is startlingly negative. She expresses that she “hates her mother” and that her mother is consistently looking for minor things that she says or does wrong and makes fun of her and/or yells at her for each of her mistakes. This young lady sits silently for half hour intervals staring into space with a scowl and pent up anger that can be felt by all in her presence. She appears to have lost all ability to see the beauty in nature and expresses no hope for living a happy life. She expressed to me recently that she doesn’t know how to be around people who do not fight or have constant conflict, that it simply doesn’t feel normal. A product she states stems from her mother’s ways and being brought up living in motels and vehicles.
There is a saying by Carl Jung, “children are educated by what the grown up is and not by his talk.” When a parent lives a life based upon emotional decision-making they educate their children in ways they cannot influence with their talk.
The mother recently told me that she teaches her children that there are consequences to every action. Yet, instead of thinking about how to educate the child in a way that would result in the desired behavior, she manipulates and does something she knows will cause emotional pain. Often times her consequences are simply acts of anger, leveraging control with no correlation between the unwanted behavior and the consequence she decides upon. As a result, her child becomes more angry and rebellious further perpetuating the circle of abuse. According to Dr. Richard Grossman “the critical questions are: ‘Did my parent respect and value what I said, see myself as independent from them in a positive way, and feel that my thoughts and feelings were as important as theirs.’ In other words, did my parent allow me “voice?” No adult child of a narcissistic parent can answer these questions in the affirmative.”
What We Learn
These two stories are examples of how utilizing emotional decision-making when logical decision-making should be used can have a negative impact on your long-term goals and the lives of others. If we want to build a happier world/life, according to Deepak Chopra, we need to “be happy and make other people happy”. That’s not that difficult to figure out, after all, plenty of the catch phrases we quote each day revolve around happiness and how to attract it. The next time you make a decision ask yourself your motivation, if its in line with your long term goals, and if the consequence will positively reflect the person you are and the legacy you wish to leave behind.