How Emotions Can Serve Us During Times Of Upheaval

As a society, we are often taught to keep our emotions “in check”, or to not display our emotions because they may indicate weakness.

Disruptions Or Transitions In Our Lives:

Rather, especially during times of upheaval or disruption in our lives, emotions can. According to Linda Rossetti, “Serve as an oracle, not an obstacle, to our success”.

I have been fascinated by how major disruptions or transitions in our lives can affect us so differently. We can look at disruptions, such as a divorce, job loss, or health scare for example, as negative and self-limiting, or we can change our perspective. What if we viewed upheaval in our lives as a signal or an invitation for transformational growth instead?

“I have been fascinated by how major disruptions or transitions in our lives can affect us so differently.”

As I experienced a major shift in my career many years ago, I decided that rather than view it as self-limiting or negative, I would shift my thinking about my sense of self – who was I, really, and what did I really want?

Are you going through such a transition in your life? Have you perhaps taken steps to change the circumstances hoping it would “fix” things? I certainly did. When I became unfulfilled in my long-term career, I thought I could “fix” everything by pursuing roles within my company which would help me climb the corporate ladder. However, I quickly realized that this would not solve the root of the problem.

Ignoring Our Emotions:

By pursuing change – we alter particulars of our experience – like changing jobs, a hairstyle, a new city in which we live. These changes involve known outcomes. If, on the other hand, we welcome transition into our lives – we actually begin to “re-examine our assumptions about who we are and how we make meaning in this world. It is always a choice.”1

As Linda describes in her new book, Dancing With Disruption, you can think of the analogy of a mountain trail. There are horizontal trails which encircle the mountain but gain no elevation. This is much like change, where we opt for another go-around on our horizontal loop. But it is those vertical trails that lead us to a higher elevation. If we choose transition, we ascend higher up the mountain like those vertical trails – and we can achieve transformative growth in the process.

I have been trained in a powerful emotional reframing technique called HAIL™, which empowers us to respond differently in the face of transition in our lives. Rather than ignoring our emotions – what if we honored them, and asked ourselves questions which would give us new meaning to these emotions, and help us grow instead?

This technique is best served with an example. When I thought I’d pursue other roles in my same industry believing I would be more fulfilled, I applied for a senior position in my same company. Fully expecting to get the job after being told I was perfect for it; you can imagine my shock when I was told I didn’t land the “job of my dreams”. Of course, many emotions came up for me as a result.

“If I was to name the emotion which was most prevalent to me at the time, it would be Shock.”

Reframing Technique Called HAIL:

If I was to name the emotion which was most prevalent to me at the time, it would be Shock. By Honoring its presence and naming it, I can begin to understand why the emotion of shock was there. The next step is to Ask – why did I experience this emotion at the time? What did this emotion mean to me?

I realized that shock was present because I fully expected and believed that the job was mine and didn’t even entertain the belief that I wouldn’t get it. The next step is to ask, how does this emotion Influence me? The initial shock turned to questions such as, “did I do something wrong?”, “was it my fault?”, “maybe I’m not good enough for this role – maybe they were right”. Thoughts of self-doubt and loss of confidence can set in as we reflect on how emotions influence us.

Finally, we can ask ourselves, what might this emotion be trying to teach us? What can we Learn from the presence of this emotion? When I asked myself this, the initial shock turned to questioning – why did this happen? Did I actually truly want this job, or was it just expected of me? This questioning led me to realize that indeed, this was not what I wanted.

So Much More Fulfilled:

This disruption in my life actually led me to re-examine who I was. As a result, I transitioned to my current career, in which I am so much more fulfilled, and which aligns so much more fully with my truth. If I look back at it now – that moment of disruption was a gift given to me!

Disruptions are normal in our lives. What is important is how we respond to them. We can choose Change, which involves known outcomes, or we can choose Transition, which can form the basis of transformational growth. Along the way it is important to acknowledge our emotions – as they serve as important guides on our path towards true fulfillment.


  1. Women In Transition , Linda Rossetti, 2015
  2. Dancing With Disruption, Linda Rossetti, 2023

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