Be Emotional, Don’t be Dramatic

Almost every project I have worked on needs more emotion. We’re a culture deprived of healthy emotional expression and connection. Much of what we produce is flat and devoid of true passion and colour. People are hungry for it, our work is hungry for it.

Let me make a distinction: Emotional expression is the healthy and natural feeling of anger, sadness, happiness, fear, and flavours in-between, and the constructive communication of, or creation from, those feelings. Drama is the internalized and impotent outcry of those emotions where we act out how we feel to destruct or cry out “pay attention to me!”.

Anger at its finest fuels determination, helps us feel and right injustice, calls forth the sleeping spirit of the self and others.

Sadness draws us closer to one another, calls for genuine connection, produces works that truly touch our soul.

Joy at its most passionate lets us take risks, fuels inspiration, and pushes teams forward toward the possible.

Fear left hidden eats away at us at the core, undermines projects, and self-worth. Fear in the open gives us warning, asks for caution, and calls on wisdom. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is taking wise action while feeling fear.

We all need to be more at home with emotion. We need to invite it into our endeavours both in ourselves and from those around us.

Accept and explore how you feel. If you have a hard time knowing how you feel or you feel ‘too emotional’ or let your feelings run away with you. You need to spend more time with your feelings. Routinely pause and check-in. How am I feeling right now? How does this make me feel? Then practice putting your feelings into words as part of your internal dialog. Don’t judge your feelings, just explore them.

Start talking about how you feel. This takes practice. Make it an explicit part of your communication tools with your family, partners, and team. At Academie Duello our management team starts each meeting by explicitly checking in with our feelings.

Acknowledge but don’t act on the feelings of others. Our feelings are powerful indicators of our deepest needs, and our most soulful expressions of creativity but we still want the world to be touched by our choices. Allow others room to feel as big as they can and then to choose responsibly how they want to act on those feelings and for others to interact with them. In our meetings after someone has expressed how they feel we simply say “Welcome” — meaning I heard you.

Forge your feelings into creativity and action. Questions I like to ask myself: “I’m angry about this — what do I want to *do* about it?”, “I’m deeply sad about this, what do I want to create? How can I connect?”, “How can I share my joy in the most profound way?”.

Get Help. It’s as vulnerable as expressing your feelings and just as powerful. If you don’t know what to do with how you feel or are afraid that you’re going to act dramatically or destructively, ask someone you trust for help with how you feel.

This is a journey I’ve been on for a long time and I think my personal challenge is not with expressing how I feel but with truly allowing myself to feel as big as I can. Some feelings can be so powerful in me that they scare me and I tamp them down. Yet I want to touch this power. When I have allowed myself to go there and have been able to responsibly express and explore the fullness of what I can feel, the impact on me and those around me has been tremendously positive.

I’m interested to hear about the emotional journeys of others. Please share them.