Experience Puts Emotions into Context

Whenever I see someone do something that looks difficult or near impossible, I always wonder what their emotions are like. When Barack Obama gives a speech seen by millions or when an NBA player shoots a buzzer beating shot in a playoff game. What are they thinking? How are they not crushed by the weight of the moment? Are they unaware of the pressure or do they not feel fear?

Well, I can’t answer how they feel. However, I can reflect on my own emotions as they relate to difficult situations. The first time I did public speaking, it was stressful. So stressful, I wondered if I was too stressed to perform well. After the first few times, I built confidence and was able to perform. Sometimes better than others, but I rarely failed because my emotions overcame me.

I’ve never stopped feeling some fear before public speaking. It is part of the cadence. The fear never proves founded. It’s just an emotion. Over time, it fades into the background. My experience having that emotion and not having it be predictive has put it into context for me.

I was recently talking with someone who’s job has become much more stressful the last few months. He said that he’s just adjusted to swimming in warmer waters. Emotions are like water temperature. As long as it’s not lethal, you’ll eventually get used to swimming in it.

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