Women are often negatively labeled as emotional so it is not uncommon for women leaders to buy into the belief that emotions are bad. Without realizing it, in your attempts to “be a better leader”, you may suppress your emotions believing you are doing a good thing.
However, I believe this is harming to the soul of women leaders. Your emotions play an important role in shaping who you become. Denying any of them is a mistake that has profound implications for how you show up in the world.
It’s no surprise then that I fell in love with the new Pixar movie Inside Out. I’ve seen it twice already and I believe it should be required viewing for parents and for leaders.
The movie calls into question some of our ideas around emotions and shows us that, if we are willing, there is room for all emotions to find expression.
Here are 6 myths challenged by Inside Out:
Myth #1 – Fear is intimidating
Fear feels like such a powerful emotion. It seems like this force you constantly have to fight against in order to do anything in life.
In the movie, however, fear is not nearly as intimidating. Represented as a shy, cowering skittish character, fear is more afraid than he is fearful.
If you look your fear in the eye, you too may discover that it’s not as intimidating as you might think.
Myth #2 – Getting angry is wrong
Anger is often seen as a negative emotion and truthfully if not checked, anger can be destructive.
But anger is also an invitation to action. When something makes you mad, it moves you to do something about it.
In the movie, anger is given free reign with no positive outcome. But when tempered in a specific direction, it proves helpful in achieving a goal (figuratively and literally J).
Myth #3 – Avoiding disgust is a good thing
This was probably my favorite character in the movie – she was green, my favorite color AND she was played by my favorite actress Mindy Kaling.
But beyond those things, what I appreciated most about this character is she reveals that disgust is not just a bad thing.
We’ve been trained that the polite thing to do is to avoid showing any disgust. Yet disgust was ultimately the one who found the solution needed to get the two missing emotions back into headquarters.
Channeled the right way, disgust can be used to bring about solutions to issues of injustice and inequality. For me that makes disgust not such a bad thing after all.
Myth # 4 – Joy is always the right response
Joy is the positive emotion, the thing everyone wants to feel all the time.
But constantly forcing or trying to manufacture joy denies the other parts of you. When you buy into this myth, you wear a happy face all the time but you slowly diminish into a lesser version of yourself.
Joy is good but sometimes it’s okay to have a different response too.
Myth #5 – Feeling sad is bad
In a culture that doesn’t know what to do with grief, sadness is often equated with weakness.
Yet the most powerful lesson of this movie is that without sadness you become lost.
Denying your grief does not serve you. Sadness has to be felt otherwise you risk getting stuck. If you are going to move forward past a loss or a change then you owe it to yourself to feel your sadness.
Myth #6 – You can selectively numb emotions
Joy is the lead emotion in this movie (and in our lives). She wants Riley to always be happy and she takes charge to make sure none of the other emotions are felt for too long because they are not productive.
But selectively numbing emotions isn’t an option. You numb one, you numb them all and you run the risk of losing the ability to feel anything at all.
Your emotions are not bad.
No one emotion should be in control all the time or else you lose yourself. And if you notice yourself trying to suppress any of them, get curious about what’s driving that for you.
In the end, the five emotions in Inside Out learned to work together to help Riley succeed. If you let them, all of your emotions can also be used to help you succeed in the work you are called to do.
Here’s to you rising into your greatness.
From my heart to yours,
If you are struggling with the pressure to suppress your emotions for the sake of being a better leader let’s chat to see how I might be able to support you. Click here to schedule a complimentary call with me today.