Enrolling Now for 2024! Unlock your potential and accelerate your career while maintaining balance with our exclusive online membership.
#56 Managing Your Emotions at Work with Jay Fields
The 360 Leadhership Podcast, Episode 56, 18 January 2023 by Lucy Gernon
Would you like to learn how to better handle your emotions in work?
You are a leader. You manage a team. You not only have to deal with other people’s problems everyday, but you often put your own issues aside in order to make sure everyone else has what they need for the business or project to run smoothly.
KPI’s and hitting those career goals are always on your mind – but no time for that! Because there’s a new fire to put out everyday, never mind the back to back meetings you find yourself in so you are unable to actually get your own work done. You have requests from senior management, stakeholders, your team and even your own mother all coming at once.
And then “Susan”, that one coworker you just don’t click with, passes a comment on one of your projects and you might just want to snap. Or you have a conversation with your boss and you feel yourself welling up with tears or boiling with frustration.
Women in leadership sometimes find it difficult to manage stress, and hormones in your body play a big part in that as well.
Sometimes we can get triggered when we’re told we’re too emotional. Because of your position, you want to be seen as strong and resilient. Not weak or too sensitive. And maybe you have tried to compensate by changing how you come across to people by being hard and edgy.
This episode of The Powerhouse Revolution podcast has a special guest. Jay Fields is an embodiment coach, and she really helps people tune into their body so that they can love who they are and become the best version of themselves for both themselves and their relationships.
Today we will be discussing how to handle your emotions at work.
Here’s the episode at a glance:
[06:06] What is the difference between your emotions running you and you running them?
[09:42] How emotions are a powerful force for creating trust
[13:06] How to deal with your inner critic when you’re feeling stressed
[23:13] 3 practical tips for managing your emotions
[25:17] What role do hormones play when it comes to menopause?
Prefer to read?
You’re very welcome back to the Powerhouse Revolution Podcast. Today, I have a very interesting guests that I am so intrigued to learn from. My guest today is Jay fields, who is a specialist in her field of all things, I suppose body and nervous system. And it’s and she’s going to explain a lot better than I am, she’s an embodiment coach, and she really helps people to, I suppose, tune into their body so that they can kind of love who they are and become the best version of themselves in themselves and their relationships. So I thought it’d be a great topic to kind of talk about today, because I know as women in leadership that sometimes you find it very difficult to manage stress, and, you know, hormones in your body play a big part in that as well. So I thought I would ask Jay to come on the podcast and share her knowledge. So, Jay, you’re super, super welcome. Today. How are you?
Oh, my gosh, thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here. And I’m, I have morning voice because it’s early where I am. So sounds like a deep voice. That’s why but I’m great.
Good. Good. So I suppose Look, I just jump right into it. So a lot of the work that I do with my clients, you know, as women and leadership, I think sometimes women or a lot of my clients get triggered when they’re told they’re too emotional. It’s like a trigger words. So sometimes, you know, they women can get very passionate, or sometimes we can get upset and stressed and we sometimes can find it quite difficult to regulate our emotions. So I’d love to hear I suppose your thoughts on that piece first?
Well, that is something that our clients have in common, then because my clients have often been told you’re too sensitive. You’re sensitive to emotional. And they have tried to compensate by being smart and hard and edgy. And that doesn’t work for them, it creates this tension in their own body, that then kind of influences how they show up in a way that feels off to them. So in my my first thought about what you said is you said that we’re they get triggered. And when there’s a trigger, there’s a physical response, right? Someone says something, whether they say you’re too emotional, or they say, you know, that’s not going to work for me or whatever it is, and your body has a has a tensing usually, or some or maybe heat, there’s always some kind of physical response when there’s a trigger or an emotion. And when we think of emotions as something that is happening only in our head, or something that’s only happening in a way that other people see it, but we don’t necessarily feel like we have any control over it, then that’s when they become really problematic. When you could think of emotion as a sensation that’s happening in your body. That then translates into your brain thinking, I’m triggered or I’m scared or I’m sad, then you have some anchor, and you have some ability to be with yourself in it so that it doesn’t impact your behaviour.
Okay, so you mentioned the word anchored. I love that whole concept of anchoring. So do you want to explain a little bit about what you mean by that?
Yeah, so in the world of embodiment, and that’s what I call myself a somatic coach or embodied coach. So somatic means of the body. We talk about having resources, and resources are things that anchor you in the present moment in your body in a way that is either pleasant or neutral. Because when you’re triggered, or when you’re emotional about something, people usually describe that as unpleasant. It’s an unpleasant sensation and we do wacky things to try and get out of that sensation, or to try to pretend it’s not there. So an anchor or resource is something that you can do that is really small. That helps you have some experience in your body that isn’t unpleasant. So things like wiggling your toes in your shoes. For most people, that’s a neutral experience. Or patting your leg under the desk. So you have some sensation of this is my hand touching my own leg. And it’s totally benign and neutral. But if you imagine, say, having tears starting to well up, because you feel you feel misunderstood or you feel hurt, if you can get that sensation of like the tingling and the burning, and you know, the tears are coming, if you also can feel your toes wiggling in your shoes, it’s that that sensation of Tears are coming is not your entire universe, if that makes sense. Like if I say it makes sense. I mean, like, Can you feel that, that you yourself something else to go, this is true that I’m I feel like I’m about to cry. It’s also true that I can feel my toes or I can feel my feet on the ground. And there’s something about that, that gives you a brain and your nervous system, the information that it’s not all bad. It’s not going going down the toilet. And that’s, you know,
yeah. Oh, my God, that is so powerful. Because I think you’re so right. I think, you know, I often talk about obviously, the power of presence, but I’ve never thought about it the way you just said it in the sense that you’re, you’re in any just distracting your brain from the fact that actually there’s something else going on here. And you can kind of control you are in more maybe in more control than you kind of think, right?
Yeah, there’s layers to our experience. And I think that’s the thing that goes out the window when we feel emotions, because we either try to suppress them and pretend like they’re not there. Or we like over overly focus on what’s around us to try and manage and control. And in both of those situations, we disconnect from ourselves. And when we disconnect from ourselves, we disconnect from the resources we have, we disconnect from the other parts of our experience that are just working fine. And that can be that container for us. And I’m
curious to understand them. Because I’m a big fan of I think owning your emotions. It’s something that I kind of preach, I think it’s really important to own your emotions, and you know this better than anyone but you know, emotions are energy in motion. So like, I believe you don’t express them. At some point, they do get stored in your body, and they do manifest and they do stay. So what do you think about that
part? about expressing or? Yeah, but
about expressing? Like, do you think it’s important to express or to try to dilute?
Oh, gosh, yeah, don’t try to dilute. I think it’s, I think it’s important to express and I think, why that seems like I’m imagining your listeners going, Ah, no, I wish you didn’t say that. Because I think we again, because we disconnect from our emotions most of the time, what usually happens is we, they overcome us at some point, the way that I’ve had, that I’ve explained it in the past is the difference between your emotions running you and you running them. Like, if I stay in my body, I can run an emotion through my body. Like, for example, if I’m angry, I can shake my hands. Like when I get angry, I get hot, and I feel like I want to punch something, right. So like, if I move my arms, or even just like, open and close my fists a little bit just to kind of discharge some of that. There’s a sense that I’m running that energy in motion in my body, and it dissipates it a little bit so that I could express it in a way that’s more metered not like the black, you know. So I’m all for expressing emotions in the sense that that’s what creates connection. Yeah, that’s what creates realness between two people. And if, if we learn how to do it in a way that isn’t that like, oh my gosh, all, oh my gosh, all of a sudden, I’m overcome by the emotion that’s coming out at me. It can be really a strong connecting force and a really strong force for creating trust. Yeah, I think peace and leadership, when we don’t show our emotions, when we’re trying to manage and keep everything bottled up. Our nervous system then is reading that as like, emotions must be bad, I’ve got it. I’ve got to have a stress response, if I feel any kind of emotion, and then our tone in our voice changes, that, you know, the tension in our body creates some a different kind of communication to the person around and we lose trust.
Yeah, well, 100% I think I’d love to hear you know exactly what you just said there. But a lot of leaders sometimes feel like they need to have it all together and that they are the you know, they’re the leaders, so they need to be the strong one. Whereas, you know, there’s a huge shift in the last definitely in the last 10 years towards obviously this whole buzzword of authentically To share funds, all of that and being more real and authentic. So how do emotions play a part in that?
Well, I mean, every human being has emotions throughout the day, every day. And there’s no way that you don’t when you’re at work. So if you try to ignore that you come across as robotic or stilted or disconnected. And that is not what most leaders are trying the messages are trying to convey. But again, coming back to, first, you have to be able to have your own relationship with your emotions before you’re going to feel comfortable showing them to other people. So, you know, just starting by having some check ins throughout the day with what is the sensation I’m feeling in my body right now? What are the primary sensations? Do I feel tightness in my chest? Do I feel a heaviness in my gut? Am I hot? Am I cold? Am I hyper kind of feeling? Is my energy high? Is my energy low? Because that’s what’s going to then let you clue into what am I feeling? Like? What are the sensations I’m having? And what are those sensations telling me about what the emotion is that I’m feeling? Because you don’t know it will kind of come underneath everything you’re saying thinking doing every interaction you have. But if you have a sense of, Well, gosh, today, I’m kind of sad, it has absolutely nothing to do with what’s happening at work. But I’m carrying sadness. And I can tell because I feel heavy. Because there’s a dullness to me. And then you can, you can attend to that and yourself, if you know it’s there. I think most people because we go into work, thinking I will, I have a job to perform, I have a role to play, I’ve got to come across as smart. And together, we stay in our head. And it’s what makes it so that you know how many people I talk to my clients say, you know, I can go a whole day without going to the bathroom. Because I just don’t even notice I have to pee. And that’s totally indicative of you are not in your body at all. In your body, starting to create little check ins with yourself that after every meeting, you just do a scan, what do I feel in my body? What does that tell me about what I’m feeling? And what does it tell me about what I need right now, doing these
shapes? I’d love to understand that piece a little bit more, right? Because, you know, I worked in the corporate world myself for almost two decades. And I’m quite an emotional person in the sense that I’m quite self aware as a coach, obviously we are. But I do remember back Well, before I would have been, you know, you’re so busy. You really are you’re a lot of my clients. And you know, this too, will be bouncing from meeting to meeting back to back and they don’t have that time. And even if they do a check in with themselves, which I fully support, I think it’s so necessary. I do it all the time myself. But say for example, if somebody does a check in, and they go, Okay, I’m feeling stressed, then what?
Good question. This is, this is where the rubber hits the road, right? Well, there’s kind of two different directions. One is to offer yourself some empathy. So there is this great hack, but that I learned from a woman named Sarah Payton. And she says the two words of course, of course, I feel this way. And like, I always imagine hand on heart, of course. Okay, so you check in, you’re stressed, you’re scared, you’re mad. Most of the time, what we do with that is some kind of internal voice that says, suck it up too bad. Keep going, not the time. And like, Can you feel how that just adds to that stress? But if you say you just saw, I saw you take a deep breath. If you
say like, oh, you’re making me feel relaxed.
You can say of course you’re stressed. Of course, you’re scared it. It like drops you back into your body in a way that can be more common because you’re making yourself makes sense to yourself.
Yeah. Oh, you’ve just hit something there with me today. I think that is. That’s super. Guys, if you’re multitasking. Come back. I want I want you to say that again. Jay. Right. That because I think that’s really powerful.
Yeah, what one of the things that helps us keep our emotions managed is when we make them make sense to ourselves. If we try to talk ourselves out of them or tell ourselves we’re stupid or too sensitive for having them, they will only feel more intense. If you say, of course you feel that way. There’s like a think of as like, a little kid, little kid comes in and they’ve scraped their knee and it hurts and they’re crying and you say of course you’re crying that hurts. If you say oh, it’s not that bad. Then there’s This dissonance of like, well, gosh, what’s wrong with me? Because I’m, it feels pretty bad to me, you know? So yeah, just the two words. Of course, if you can do nothing else, at least that’s engaging with your emotional self in a way that is kind of crappy.
Well, you know what, I don’t know who else needed to hear that today, but I definitely did. Because at the moment, I’m like, super, like, there’s so much going on. I’m kind of like, why are you feeling this way? You should be able to handle this. But now just hearing you say that. I’m like, of course, I’m feeling the way I’m feeling because there is a lot going on. And that’s okay.
Yeah, and what so with you, what do you notice with the when you switch into a course? What does it feel like in your body? It definitely,
it’s definitely more acceptance of not kind of feeling like I should have it all together. It’s definitely making me go. Yeah, like you said, it’s makes sense. Of course, it makes sense. I’m like, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. Because it’s coming up to Christmas, as we’re recording it like everyone else. And there’s so many balls in the air, and there’s so much to do. But yes, you know, even though I’m a coach, and I help people with all this inner critic work, my inner critic, is there going, you should be able to handle this, like, just suck it up. You know, but when I say of course, you’re you’re feeling this way. It just makes me go. Yeah, that’s okay. Yeah, and
it looks like in sitting here with you, it looks like it just opens like the tiniest bit more space, where you could make a different decision for yourself where you could go, You know what, I’m gonna stop and have a cup of tea, because I just need that, as opposed to, I’m going to send six more emails, because there’s not enough time. And it’s, so then that takes me back to you said, what do you do when you check in with yourself and you feel an emotion, one thing is off yourself empathy, of course, the other thing is do something for your physical body. So remembering that your body is what kind of sends the message to your brain and your nervous system, what’s going on? So let’s say you check in and you feel you’re really tense. And you read that, as I’m stressed or I’m anxious. Understand that, you know, our nervous system is the part of our body that is constantly reading for Am I safe? Am I safe? Am I safe, it is not interested in personal growth, development, intimacy, any of these things, it is interested in self preservation and safety. So if if your nervous system is reading that your muscles are tense, it’s gonna think something’s up. Something’s dangerous, something’s threatening, we got to stay in fight flight freeze. So even just shaking your body, like shake your arm, shake your legs, you know, do one of those where you’re trying to dissipate the tension in the muscles. If you get your muscles softer, your nervous system will go. Okay, so I guess there’s not as much of a threat going on here, we can stand down, we’re not in a bad situation. And that starts to create a healthier feedback loop for your emotions, as opposed to ramping it up even more and more and more and more, you know,
that’s so powerful. And I’m just what that’s so powerful about moving your body and I know obviously, is a huge relationship that our body talks to our mind and vice versa. But I’m just again from for the my listeners to say for example, we go back to that stress example in a meeting, okay, they identify they’re feeling stressed after they’re really pissed off and annoyed at somebody said something and feeling all this tension. So what’s the best thing they can do in that moment? So is it? Is it go for a walk? Is it do some shaking? Or does it depend on the individual?
depends on the individual? And yeah, I tell people to like try out different things and see what works. Some people don’t like shaking, because it feels like it’s too much jiggling. Yeah. That gets them into their head, and then they start getting down on themselves about their body. So shaking might be a huge trigger for somebody, whereas for someone else, shaking might feel great. Another thing that you can do is splash cold water in your face, go into the bathroom, and put cold water in your face because that’s a way of activating the, it’s called the mammalian dive response and it helps you to like take a deep breath and exhale. And that can help you reset for your nervous system. Understanding that your your vagus nerve is part of what helps you to regulate your nervous system and emotions and that the part that really helps with social engagement and feeling engaged, feeling regulated is in your lower face, neck and chest. So things like massaging your face, stretching your jaw, because I’m definitely a jaw puncher. So like coming out of a meeting and just going Haha, you know, stretch your jaw, also humming something that creates vibration. So you can walk down the hall and hum a little bit because if you’re creating a in your throat, you’re helping to stimulate the vagus nerve, which is helping to give your nervous system a reset. So there’s all kinds of great little things that you can do that nobody’s gonna know what you’re doing. But you know that what you’re doing is trying to make contact with your, your sweet body and your nervous system and be like, I’m here, we’re good. I don’t need you to put me into that fight mode, or that shutdown mode.
This is so powerful. I’m like, obsessed, I need to like, talk to you for like hours. So tell me then, like, I suppose, you know, we’ve talked about the nervous system. And we’ve talked about, I’ll actually maybe explain a little bit more about the vagus nerve and its role in this whole piece.
Yeah. So there’s a theory called polyvagal theory, which basically states that we have this vagus nerve that is in charge of different operations for our nervous system. And we used to understand that there was kind of two functions, we either mobilise in response to a threat, you know, that’s the fight flight or thing, or we immobilise in response to, like real danger. That’s the play dead, you know, it’s the possum, it’s the turtle in the shell, I’m just like, things are so bad, I’m going to retreat. But polyvagal theory says there’s a third function of the nervous system. And that’s social engagement. And social engagement is the state of our nervous system, when we feel safe. When we’re talking with a friend, when we’re at home, relaxing. And in that state, we’re not looking for survival. We’re looking for connection, we’re looking for growth, we’re looking for learning. So that’s the state our nervous system, we want our nervous system being most of the time at work, and with our loved ones. And that what I love about the vagus nerve and understanding polyvagal theory is if you understand the nervous system state that you’re in, it does it makes your behaviour makes sense. Mm hmm. Is personality. Literally driven by an unconscious force in your body, that same fight? Mm hmm.
And how much of that is is genetic? How our animal activity is conditioning?
Conditioning? Yeah. So those things like humming, or splashing water on your face, or shaking, those are called vagal, conditioning, your, it’s like you’re conditioning your vagus nerve to go, it’s cool. We don’t have to always freak out at things because I am in control of my body, I’m present, I’m aware we’re not unsafe, that I don’t need self preservation here, I actually want to step into this meeting and push, push my comfort zone, I actually want to have a conversation with someone that feels vulnerable. Because that’s the thing that the nervous system doesn’t care. You kind of have to come in and make it conscious and say I want these things in my life. I want connection. And so I’m going to condition my vagus nerve to be able to support that.
Okay, so I suppose if we were to think about some I know you’ve given so much, there’s so much so many different golden nuggets in there. But if you were to maybe summarise maybe your top three to five practical tips that my listeners can kind of take away in terms of managing their emotions.
Well, one I already mentioned, which is start to have some kind of practice where you connect to your body throughout the day, set a timer on your phone, and every time it goes off, that’s a reminder, just look at what’s the sensation and feeling. And what does that tell me about what I need to do for myself? Do I need to go pee? Do I need to get a drink? Do I need to go have a snack, right? Do I need to go take a walk out to the mailbox, whatever just check in with your body. The other thing that of course, start to have at least one little sweet thing you can say to yourself in your head to replace the critic or the like the the just the mean boss inside that says go harder, keep going. The other thing I would say is to understand that your behaviour when you’re like when you can catch yourself and you’re going oh my god, what has gotten into me? I am so much snappier than I’d like to be or I’m so much more of a like sloth. I just don’t feel like doing anything to understand that that’s your nervous system influencing that. That’s not your lazy person. That’s not your jerky person. That is there’s something going under going on underneath the level of your conscious awareness that is influencing you to one Want to behave that way? Do something again in your body to to either wake up or calm down.
Okay. And so I was just thinking sorry to lose my I lost my train of thought what was it going to ask you there? Yeah. So you mentioned obviously about this as being so conscious, and it’s in your, you know, it’s all kind of subconsciously kind of happening. But what role does do hormones play in in this piece when it comes to women?
That is a great question. And I don’t know that I can actually answer that. I haven’t really studied that. But I do know that hormones do impact things like the heat in your body, or the the way that you’re experiencing, like the physiology of your body. And so that would then be come into sensation, again, you would do things that are like, out of the normal for you, that would then set off your brain and your nervous system and try and read that as like, Is this is this bad? Do we need to do something about this? Is this something I need to tense up around? Is this something you know? And so this is just my my guess at this? I’m sure there’s somebody out there going, Oh, this is not the right answer. No, it’s okay. Knowing that, you know, the hormonal changes influence the the way we experience ourselves in our body. And that then influences the way we read our, our, again, unconsciously read what’s influencing us, it’s like, to the extent that you can know yourself from your neck down, it becomes it’s like, it’s like turning the lights on in a room. Now, all of a sudden, you can see what’s going on, you can choose what do you want to pick up what he wants to set down, as opposed to operating in a room with the lights off all the time? You’re going to constantly stubbing your toes, you’re going to be missing things. That’s the difference between having embodied self awareness and not.
Okay, cool. No, I love that. They just the reason I asked what the hormones piece is, because I think I’m personally doing a lot of research at the moment with the whole, perimenopause on the way and all of that, and just so many factors, I think, when it comes to women on menopause in particular, that, you know, it does change how we feel in our physique in our physical body. And then you throw in, you know, work stress and family stress on top of all of that, and then you have all these limiting beliefs about emotions, and all of that. So I think it’s all kind of a big combined kind of pressure. I think that women we put on ourselves, right?
Absolutely. Well, yeah. And it’s such a it’s such a mysterious kind of time in the sense that menopause, perimenopause will affect your body differently than affects mine. And it can be hard to know, is this, is this that is this, I’m sick is this, I’m just going crazy, because I’m so busy. Um, and I, so I think with that, again, my, my, my answer, because of my background is always to state stay with yourself, like, stay with, stay with yourself with that level of sensation. And don’t get, you know, feeling isn’t fact, necessarily, yeah, would mean that it isn’t your experience. And if it’s your experience, and you’re trying to ignore it, it will influence how you behave. If it’s your experience, and you are aware of it, you can then choose, what do I want to do with this? So I think, you know, coming back to women in leadership and being in the boardroom and being in office, it’s like, start to have let me say it differently. If you’re only operating from the intelligence of your mind, you are leaving a lot of your intelligence on the table. Yes. You have to start tapping into the intelligence of your body, because it is sending messages to your mind all the time. That if you’re not aware of, it’s impacting how you’re thinking and how you’re behaving. Yeah,
absolutely, you know, leads to burnout and stuff as well doesn’t I think when people ignore their body and a lot of my, my clients have been there, too. Okay, this is such a fascinating topic, but I’m conscious we are coming up on it. So I always asked my guests two things. I would love to know the best piece of advice that you have ever received. It doesn’t have to be body related or anything like that. That we know.
Automatically then comes to my mind is if it’s not a Hell, yes, it’s a no. I’ve,
oh, not a hell yes. It’s a no, I love that. That’s again, that’s tracking your body. Right?
Exactly, exactly. So it is kind of related to your body for sure. That’s my favourite and I use it all the time. It’s hard to trust, you know, like to give myself that permission, but it’s, it’s so dang true. It’s not Oh, yes, it’s no. And what’s a piece of advice I always give to other people? Well, I actually just kind of said it. And I would say it’s stay with yourself. I’ve actually had a client tattoo that on her arm, says stay with yourself. And what I mean by that is like, out of your head, in your body stay. That’s where your whole experience of being a human is. That’s where your ability to connect with other people are. That’s where your ability to be in touch with your your knowing and your gut and all the you know, the things that make you uniquely you. That’s, that’s in your body. So stay creative relationship.