Shawn Johal is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member and former chapter president in Montreal, where he is actively involved in mentoring young entrepreneurs. He is a business growth coach, leadership speaker and co-founder of DALS Lighting, Inc. Amid today's frustrating economic conditions due to the Covid-19 crisis, we asked Shawn about the paradox of emotions and what tips he's learned for managing them. Here's what he shared:
I come from a long line of angry men. My family tells stories of physical fights, tension and aggression. There are legendary tales of my grandfather taking on men twice his size in the streets of Derby, England. Fighting was part of his culture, and he passed it down to my father. I saw my grandfather once a year when I would visit overseas. He was indeed a hard man, full of powerful, uncontrolled emotions.
Although I get my demeanor from my mother's side--a much calmer bunch, I sometimes feel an internal explosiveness that could be unleashed if I let it. That trait reared its ugly head when I played competitive sports: As my aggression soared, I would become an entirely different person. It helped me win a national championship, but it also caused frustration for those around me.
Instinctively, I made genuine efforts to eliminate such feelings. Sometimes I pushed them (deep) down; other times, I ignored them. Over time, by learning from incredible leaders, my perspective has changed--completely.
I now understand that emotions play a significant role in life. Even when emotions seem complex and difficult, internalizing, accepting and addressing them is the ultimate solution--and is far more effective than attempting to squash them.
Knowing I couldn't avoid or evade emotions, I had to find the best strategy to deal with them. I came up with the following four methods.
1. Master the Time-Anger Gap
Let's face it: The world is full of frustrating situations. Our emotions will boil over--and anger is the result.
You get a nasty email out of the blue. A jerk cuts you off in traffic. Your child "borrows" money from your wallet to buy a video game without your consent. Now what?
The time it will take you to calm down is where the magic exists. Think about it: Whether you take months, weeks, days, hours or minutes to move on is a choice. Your choice. The longer you take, the more useless suffering you cause yourself.
Mastering what I call the "Time-Anger Gap" empowers you to take back your life. When an unfortunate, anger-inducing event occurs, ask yourself: "What if I only take 10 minutes to get this out of my system?" Imagine the benefit of being able to regain joy that quickly!
It's possible: It is in your hands. Life is too short to stay mad; make a decision to reduce the space between anger and composure.
2. Write it down
Earlier in life, I didn't take writing or journaling very seriously. With experience, I've realized that writing is the path to emotional freedom. Whenever I find that my emotions are difficult to deal with, I write about the specific situation in an effort to understand precisely why it's causing me pain. I take the time to describe my state of mind, acknowledging that I am allowed to feel this way.
It doesn't have to be 10 pages of well-crafted prose; simply jotting words on paper can be enough to take the edge off. One advantage of journaling is the ability to go back and read what you wrote weeks or months earlier.
This can serve as a powerful lesson: The ability to see your past thoughts, identify patterns, and find solutions accordingly. Use this simple tool to improve your mental well-being. Maybe one day you'll even have the basis for an article or book!
3. Don't worry
A powerful video that I enjoy showing friends, family and clients is called Then Why Worry?. In less than one minute, it illuminates the ideal way to view any issue. In a nutshell, it explains that no matter what happens, there isn't any real reason to worry:
- If all is good, then why worry?
- If something bad happens, and we can fix it, then why worry?
- If something frustrating occurs, and we cannot fix it, then why worry?
So simple, yet genius.
Of course, it's a simplistic view of the world and many challenging issues go far beyond that solution. But the video and the concept remind us of one critical thing: It all comes back to mindset.
Every day we have the opportunity to choose how we feel. No one can force us to feel a specific way; the choice is entirely ours to make. Ultimately, that's what makes human beings so beautiful. We have flaws, but we also have immense power to control our emotions. Know this, and use this power as often as possible.
4. Don't watch life pass you by
If you're like most people, you spend the majority of your time regretting the past or planning the future. How often do you actually enjoy the present moment? It's a flaw in human behavior. I am as guilty of it as the next person, and it can be dangerous for those around us. We often watch life pass us by. Given how little time we have, relatively speaking, it explains why many people later in life tell the younger generation to appreciate every moment.
Please don't wait until then. Start now; start today. Learn to acknowledge and accept the emotions that will inevitably surface. Embrace anger and intentionally reduce the time it takes to regain your happiness. You'll stop hurting yourself and those around you--and you'll gain valuable time back in the process. Why worry?