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Find Your Feelings

A work meeting charged me with the idea of ‘gratitude’ but in this context, the idea of gratitude, like the initial conversation about words, refracted itself through a glass half empty. I could shake my head and attempt to clear my view. Except, the fuzziness, brokenness, overall distortion remained. I could only hear an ask to lower my expectations.


I couldn’t help but share this reaction with a colleague in a separate chat. “It’s almost eval time,” I joked. “Maybe I should make one of my goals a gratitude journal. That would really show my growth.” I laughed to myself and attempted to amuse her a second time with the proposal of a ‘feelings journal’.



My coworker responded by uploading a document: a word search entitled, “Find My Feelings”.


I opened the document. I printed it. Afterall, I liked puzzles, especially word games. Off and on throughout the afternoon, I glanced at the jumble of letters.


Lonely


Sad


Anxious


Confused


Finally, I messaged my coworker, “Why are they all so negative?”


“It’s our state of being,” she responded flatly though through the interpretation of text, more sadly.


Last week I wrote about the opportunity of words as a ‘good problem to have’. It seemed the universe and I were not done with this conversation.


The next day I let my eyes linger and skim across the expanse of letters.


Overwhelmed


Angry


Apparently, the situation had not improved. I examined the three vertical columns of words at the bottom of the page. I began to count the number of negative ones. Some could perhaps be both, but even so, they appeared unbalanced.


Numb


The universe could be reflecting what I was projecting. But, there could be another option. Was I embodying the context around me? More practice listing negative than positive? I read all the words again and again.


Lonely


Sad


Anxious


Confused


Overwhelmed


Angry


Numb


Sometime later, after enjoying a brownie and coffee shared by a coworker, I looked again.


Happy.


I put my pencil down. I turned away from the word search. There was no point continuing my search, at least for now.


Instead, I took on a different kind of search: Why do we notice more negative than positive emotions? I looked for the answer to this question under the assumption that the negative emotions were problematic and that their overabundance, especially in my own identification, was problematic. This was not, in fact, the case.



In a snapshot, When we experience negative emotions, we generally are not engaging in actions that align with our values, and our experience is not meeting our needs. When this happens, we must take a step back, pause, and find ways to attend to this depleted need. Contrastingly, when we experience positive emotions, it signals that we engage in actions or activities that align with our values. They also suggest that the experience is meeting our needs.



In work situations, when I confronted the application of the paragraph above, my negative emotions compelled me to be deeply engaged in finding new solutions, roads that led to positive outcomes until I was judged not for the work I contributed but for the feelings that brought me there.


These articles shared how the feelings themselves are less important than the way we manage them. In other words, even negative emotions are a good problem to have: specifically, how we feel about the words and how the words make us feel.


The returned to the word search, unfinished. “Find My Feelings”. . . I would do just that, without any feeling about which ones they were. The words we know are good problems to have.



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