Emotions are your inner compass; they ground you in reality and help you empathize with others.
In this crisis, a lot of things are going to trigger you. But, now is the time to be triggered. I believe we need to take advantage of this moment of being emotionally challenged. We need to expand our collective leadership resilience by increasing our level of tolerance. How might we not only manage our energy, but also stay in this level of intolerance and uneasiness? Perhaps experiencing this uneasiness will raise our “emotional bars,” allowing us to withstand more because we don’t know if this is the beginning, middle, or end.
This crisis is also going to bring up our past – and if you didn’t have the resilience to cope with what happened then, you’re going to be triggered again and make a lot of decisions based on fear and your unexplored past.
The pandemic is bringing up one particular story in my past: In 2005, I traveled to Asia in the aftermath of the tsunami to provide support. When I arrived, I didn’t know what to do. I was working on an island in India, with parents and families who had lost their children. In an effort to get their kids off the island, they tied a rope from the island to the mainland and put their children on a boat. As the children pulled along the rope to get to the other side, a huge wave came and wiped them out. They all died.
It was my job to support the mothers of all these children; I have never experienced such pure grief. Many of these mothers had lost three, five, maybe seven, kids at once. I was not prepared for this amount of grief and shock. Even though I was in a mode of fear, I had to move beyond that fear and start to work with everybody. What I’m seeing during this pandemic is people going into this same mode of fear and grief.
If we can increase our tolerance for being on the edge of our emotions, then we will be able to act in a collaborative mode instead of turning and fighting against each other.