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Knowing yourself is not egoism - it is a first step to leading others

Shutting off is a normal emotional reaction to dramatic and disturbing events. Many of us do it when witnessing natural or man-made disasters, such as we now see the tragic fall of Afghanistan. It is difficult to witness without feeling helpless - so we would rather not.

Shutting off is also what we do to ourselves when facing an employee who is unhappy (with us), a boss who is challenging our boundaries - or a spouse who is angry with us. Shutting down may make the immediate situation less challenging - but it also is an unconscious lesson to ourselves that our emotions should not be trusted. That they should be controlled as it would be dangerous to listen to what they are telling us. But shutting off unfortunately also makes us feel disconnected and lessens our general happiness - with ourselves, our work, colleagues, families.

It takes courage and commitment to listen to our own emotions in a way that does not make us feel bowled over. You can start by watching the news while being conscious of what is going on inside with curiosity and kindness. Knowing yourself is a first step to leading others.

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