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Power and Emotion – When We Choose Wrong 

When we buy feelings of power by exercising our freedoms in an unhelpful way, we tend to become more self-conscious, and more orientated to ourselves than others.   

Let’s unpack this just a little more, with a practical example. If you happen to be in a meeting where you are the most senior – that is, you have rank – it’s likely you will feel a certain freedom to speak your thoughts in that meeting. Is this not true? Many of us might have experienced this. If you exercise that freedom by speaking often and long in that meeting, it is likely to cause you to feel temporarily good or at least betterActually, when I say good, I mean feelings of powerlessness like anxiety or frustration might be temporarily eased. You’ll feel better for a while. In fact, you might even feel knowledgeable, capable, and useful! Option 1 is about exercising that freedom in order to feel better, and possibly gain some relief from feeling bad, anxious, or some other kind of powerlessness.  

Now, in practice, these choices are made frequently throughout our day, however, because we make such fast choices we might barely notice that we are utilising the freedom to speak provided by our rank, to help us feel better.  

What is the problem with this? Is it really problematic for bosses to speak their mind in meetings, and feel good doing it?  

These feelings are not bad in themselves, indeed feeling powerful can enable us to do things we might never do if we did not feel this way. Making tough decisions, taking risks and making bold steps all probably rely on feeling powerful.  

The problem with this is that when we repeatedly take this option, we tend to become more focussed on ourselves, since we are reliant on our continued exercising of the freedoms provided us by our rank, to feel good. Our attention is therefore on our own behaviour, and our ability to continue to behave in these powerful ways, since feeling good depends on it. AND, while we become increasingly attached to that freedom, say of hearing our own voice in meetings, others become disengaged, or even unsafe.  

Wondering which freedoms are available for you to access? Here’s a list of the 7 freedoms available to you.

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