Cassandra Worthy, the author of Change Enthusiasm: How to Harness the Power of Emotion for Leadership and Success, believes that emotions can have a uniquely strong influence on our personal and professional lives.
According to Worthy, emotions don’t turn off when we walk into a business setting or turn on our laptops, and we can catch the emotions of those around us, both positive and negative. This phenomenon is called emotional contagion, and it can have a significant impact on our mood and productivity.
Worthy suggests that suppressing emotions can lead to physical ailments and that it’s important to acknowledge and transform them instead of ignoring them. Emotions can be transferred, transformed, or conserved, and by becoming more self-aware of our emotions, we can transform negative thoughts into positive ones. This transformation can help us reach our goals and fuel our personal evolution.
CASSANDRA WORTHY: We are emotional beings. Emotions don't turn off just because I walk through the door of work or because I've turned my laptop on and I'm in a business setting. There's a phenomenon that I write about in my book called Emotional Contagion. We can literally catch the emotions of those around us, and I'm sure you probably have experienced something like this. You're connecting with a peer or colleague who's feeling down. And before you know it, you start feeling that same emotion. And the same can happen for someone who's really upbeat, really positive. After you finish engaging with them, you just feel high. And maybe you can't explain it. We literally can catch the emotional energy of another. I'm Cassandra Worthy. I'm a speaker and founder and CEO of Change Enthusiasm Global, and I'm the author of Change Enthusiasm How to Harness the Power of Emotion for Leadership and Success.
Emotion actually travels faster than rational thought. And so when you're experiencing seeing a big change, like being given a new manager, like your business being acquired by another company, there's actually an emotional response that happens first. And the first things that we typically face are what I call the signal emotions of change. And those are fear, frustration, anger, anxiety and grief. And I feel too often we are taught or we have learned to suppress those emotions, to ignore them, especially in the business world and the professional setting, because the change has to happen. You got to get through it. So let go of those emotions and just grit your teeth and bear it. And so what's so important that we are in tune to recognize those emotions because they're very powerful when we're fueled purely by those single emotions we do and we say things that we often regret.
And I know that either you yourself or you've experienced folks around you who have acted in anger, who have acted in rage, and that can take you into that mental downward spiral. So as I think about the power of choice and I think about our emotional energy, the geek in me always comes out and I think about the first law of thermodynamics, and it talks about energy that it can either be created nor destroyed. Rather, it can either be transferred, transformed or conserved. So if you apply that to our emotional energy, with us being the closed system, we can conserve our energy, holding it in, suppressing it, and then it manifesting in all types of other physical ailments like higher blood pressure, inability to sleep, like driving us to the bar and wanting to drink all night. All the things that stress can bring about.
We also have the choice of transferring that energy, which is like emoting, venting to another. And honestly, this is where most of us go at the very beginning of a change announcement because it's kind of our natural tendency. We want to vent. We want to talk about how terrible this is. Did you hear about this announcement? Can you believe this? And so it's moving that energy. But if you're only venting, if you're only transferring the emotional energy from one individual to another, it's like playing this game of hot potato, right? You're just moving that same energy all around. And it's not just one individual churning and moving into a downward spiral. It's the entire organization. The other choice that we can make is to transform that energy. That's like transforming anxiety into anticipation. It's the same energy, but it carries a different signature. It becomes fuel.
The more that we can be self aware of these emotions, self-aware of the data, we can use it to inform us in a way that can be productive, to help us evolve and to grow. And so as an individual, when you can become empowered to recognize those emotions, of course, allowing them to exist, but then knowing that you were in the seed of choice, you have the power to transform it. You're literally rewiring the chemistry of your brain. So I think about our negative thoughts or the thoughts that inspire or nurture negative emotion as weeds that need to be plucked and the soil that the weeds are in as our mental state farmers remove weeds from soil and it can actually inform them on what that soil is deficient of what that soil needs more of. It's a really compelling analogy for me because it teaches me that if we can remove the negative thought from our mind and then explore it, understand it, it can inform us of our mental state. And then the more that we're informed of our mental state, what's lacking? What's deficient? What do we need to be nurturing? What should we be thinking? It can help us reach our intended crop or the way that we wish to experience that change. You're going to face an infinite amount of change in both your personal and your professional career. We can be empowered for that change to happen for us and not against us.
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