One thing I admire about Americans is how in touch they seem to be with their feelings. It seems that you can go up to a random stranger in the street, ask them about how they feel about something, and they take less than a second to respond with an articulate summary of their considered feelings on the matter.
Me, I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum. It usually takes me a few days to work out how I ‘feel about something’.
Typical example, in a business related meeting a month or so ago, I could tell that the person I was meeting with was lying to me. I was kinda quiet the rest of the day, and it wasn’t until the following week that I finally realised how I felt about it (in that case: anger, and then disappointment, and then disrespected, and finally a realisation that I was now much more accurately aware of where the relationship stood).
It’s happened enough now that when asked how I feel about something, I usually reply with a ‘I’ll let you know in a few days’.
This can make things difficult – because even though your conscious brain may not know how it feels about something, the sub-conscious usually does, and if you don’t keep it in check you may act out strangely. It’s why, for example, I can find myself disagreeing with a colleague but only later realise it’s due to something they said last week. Or perhaps it wasn’t even them, perhaps it’s because I’m tired. Or burnt out. Or fearful.
Which means my only guidance is a few signs that I try to notice and act on. Here’s the main two:
1. Long showers
This usually means I’m fearful of making a change in my business, or challenged about moving out of my comfort zone in some business matter.
Whenever this happens I now take time out to think through what the particular challenge is – it’s usually hiding there somewhere in my to-do list, most likely having been there a while, carefully avoided.
2. Mental arguments with clients
This one troubled me for a while. Why would I mentally fantasise about having arguments with clients?
I’ve realised now it usually means I’m burnt out and need a break. So I down tools immediately, and therefore avoid any confrontations with clients (that would have perhaps resulted in me having less work on my plate after the confrontation…).
If you ever receive an unexpected Out of Office email reply from me – chances are I’ve just managed to catch myself before the burn out hit.